Relieve Symptoms and Improve Gut Health
Digestion is a complex process in which the body extracts vital nutrients from the food we eat. However, poor digestion can lead to host of uncomfortable symptoms and health issues. As a pharmacist and functional medicine nutritionist, I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact that impaired digestion has on our overall well-being. In this article, we’ll explore what digestion is, symptoms of poor digestion, factors that can negatively impact it, and natural ways to improve digestion.
Digestion is the process by which our bodies break down food into smaller components that can be absorbed and utilized, while also eliminating waste. It starts in the mouth, where the mechanical action of chewing (or even just the thought of eating) initiates the breakdown of food, and continues through the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. This intricate process involves the secretion of digestive enzymes, acid, and the coordination and action of various organs.
Symptoms of Poor Digestion
Digestive issues can manifest in a variety of ways, including:
- Bloating and gas
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nutrient deficiencies, and
- Low energy levels.
These symptoms can significantly impact quality of life, mental health, and overall well-being. Recognizing and addressing them is crucial for digestive health.
Factors That Negatively Impact Digestion
Several factors can negatively affect digestion. Understanding these factors empowers us to make positive changes and support our digestive health.
- Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt digestion by diverting blood flow away from the digestive system
- Diet: Highly processed foods, excessive sugar and unhealthy fats, and lack of dietary fiber can hinder digestion
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can lead to sluggish digestion
- Medications: Antibiotics, acid-reducing drugs, opioid pain medicines, and many other medications can disrupt digestion or cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome
Natural Ways to Improve Digestion
- Increase Dietary Fiber: Including fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
- Increase Hydration: Staying well-hydrated helps keep stools soft and easy to pass.
- Get Moving: Regular physical activity stimulates bowel movements and reduces stress, benefiting digestion.
- Embrace Bitter Foods: Discover the power of bitter foods like arugula, dandelion greens and artichokes, which stimulate the production of digestive juices and aid in effective food breakdown.
- Digestive Enzyme Supplements: Consider using high-quality supplements containing digestive enzymes to assist your body in breaking down food effectively.
- Stress Management: Adopt stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or emotional freedom tapping to support a healthy digestive system and promote a healthy gut-brain connection.
- Mindful Eating and Thorough Chewing: Slow down and savor your meals, chewing thoroughly to ease the digestive process and enhance nutrient absorption..
When to Consult a Doctor
While natural remedies and lifestyle changes can often improve digestion, certain situations require medical attention. If you experience persistent and severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloody stools, weight loss, difficulty swallowing, or fever, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional promptly.
A Digestive Success Story
A client of mine struggled with chronic bloating, irregular bowel movements, and low energy levels for years, despite taking many OTC and prescription medications. By increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly, she improved her digestion. Her symptoms improved and she was able to enhance her overall health and well-being, and reduce the need for medications.
Incorporating natural ways to improve digestion can positively impact our health and quality of life. By increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, exercising, consuming bitter foods, managing stress, practicing mindful eating, and seeking medical attention when necessary, we can nurture our digestion naturally.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. May your digestive health flourish and your well-being thrive as you nurture digestion naturally.
Looking for one-on-one, personalized support to relieve your symptoms and improve gut health, book a free discovery call to see how I might help.
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The information contained in this article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not to be construed as personalized nutritional advice nor intended to be a substitute for proper health and medical care. Please consult your physician or a qualified health care professional for support with your digestive health.