Table of Contents:
- What is Digestion?
- Why is Digestion Important?
- How Does our Digestive System Work?
- Foods For Digestion
- Best & Worst Foods For Stomach
- What Happens if There is A Problem With Your Digestion?
- What’s in Health Total Digestion Plan?
What is Digestion?
Digestion is basically a process of breaking down big food particles into small or individual molecules, which are tiny enough to squeeze through our intestinal lining and further into our bloodstream.
There are various factors that influence our digestion, firstly it’s the quality of foods we eat, followed by our lifestyle and stress level. This article guides you through the importance of digestion, foods that help digestion or lead to indigestion, the various body parts of our digestive system and most importantly Health Total’s digestion plan.
Why is Digestion Important?
Digestion is important because, without it, we cannot get nourishment for our overall well-being. And the immediate effect is increased stress levels. Stress also affects our hormones, the liver and gall bladder, which in turn play a major role in digestive and hormonal health. However, consumption of Vitamin C reduces both physical and psychological effects of stress.
Digestion in humans is a complex process because it comes from the foods we eat, our sedentary lifestyle and not to forget, our emotional and stress levels. If not paid attention to, indigestion results in disorders such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, brain fog, and fatigue. In other words, ‘stay cool when under stress’ as when you let the stress get better of you, it can cause indigestion and immune disorders.
How does it work?
How Does our Digestive System Work?
The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the digestive tract. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long twisting tube, right from the mouth to anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are – the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines and anus. The liver, pancreas and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system. Besides this, parts of the nervous and circulatory systems also play a vital role in the digestive process.
The table below shows the parts of the digestive process performed by each digestive organ:
|Organ||Movement||Digestive juices used||Food particles broken down|
|Stomach||Upper muscle in stomach relaxes to let food enter and lower muscle mixes food with digestive juice||Stomach acid||Protein|
|Small intestine||Peristalsis||Small intestine digestive juice||Starches, Proteins and carbohydrates|
|Pancreas||None||Pancreatic juice||Starches, fats, and protein|
Foods for Digestion
It is said that you should be able to digest any type of food you put in your mouth. But changes in food processing, and the way it is prepared as well as one’s lifestyle means our stomach does not react well to everything we eat. So, it’s best to avoid certain foods — like fatty meats — to prevent tummy upset. Also, you can improve digestion by not skipping meals and eat only when you’re hungry.
Carbohydrates are called simple or complex depending on their chemical structure. Simple carbs include sugars found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, as well as sugar added during food processing. Whereas, complex carbohydrates are starches and fiber found in whole-grain bread, cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes.
Meat, eggs, and beans consist of large molecules of protein that the body digests into smaller molecules known as amino acids. The body absorbs amino acids through the small intestine into the blood, which then carries them throughout the body.
Fat molecules are not only a rich source of energy, but they also help absorb vitamins. Oils like safflower, soybean, corn, and sunflower are examples of healthy fats. Whereas, butter and snack foods are examples of less healthy fats.
Vitamins are classified by the fluid in which they dissolve. So, water-soluble vitamins include all the B vitamins and vitamin C. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. The body stores fat-soluble vitamins in the liver and fatty tissues, whereas it flushes out the water-soluble vitamins.
Best & Worst Foods
Best and Worst Foods for Stomach
- High fat and fried: Both can result in heartburn and acid reflux.
- Chilli peppers: This can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn pain. People with irritable bowel syndrome must stay away from this food item.
- Dairy: If you are lactose intolerant, stay away from dairy products, as these can cause diarrhea, gas problems, abdominal bloating and cramps.
- Alcohol: Though alcohol relaxes the body, it also relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which can lead to acid reflux or heartburn. But if you don’t have a gastrointestinal disorder, a moderate amount of alcohol shouldn’t trouble your digestive system.
- Coffee, tea and aerated drinks: These not only over-relax the esophageal sphincter, which keeps stomach acid confined to the stomach, but they also can act as diuretics, which can lead to diarrhea and cramping.
- Yogurt: There are trillions of bacteria in your gut that help digest food and yogurt contains some healthy bacteria. However, always check for “live and active cultures” on the label.
- Lean meat and fish: Chicken, fish and other lean meats go down a lot easier than a juicy steak. Also, red meats tend to be fattier. Plus, lean meats and fish have not been associated with an increased risk of colon cancer like high-fat red meats have.
- Whole grains: Whole-wheat bread, oats, and brown rice are a good source of fiber, that help digestion. Our body needs 20-30 grams fiber every day, as it not only helps us feel full and lowers cholesterol levels but also improves our digestion.
- Bananas: They restore normal bowel function, especially if you have diarrhea, say after too much alcohol. Bananas have a lot of fiber to aid digestion.
Problem in Digestion
What Happens if There is a Problem with your Digestion?
Our digestive tract is about 30-foot long and is designed to turn the food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair. If a component of the digestive system malfunctions, it can cause a minor or serious “whole body” problem. Digestion problems can not only make you sick and fat but they can mean more than unwanted, embarrassing symptoms. Here is what can go wrong in the system and solutions for the same:
This is where the digestive process begins. Problem: swallowing foods that have been chewed very little can result in less nutrient absorption from the food. There can be difficulty in passage of food through the esophagus, resulting in choking and indigestion. Solution: Lifestyle changes such as chewing food slowly and eating small portions will lessen digestive discomfort.
The esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach. Separating esophagus from the stomach is esophageal sphincter, which keeps stomach acid and food from coming back up into the esophagus. Problem: Heartburn results when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. You will feel a burning sensation in your chest or a sour taste in the mouth. Some exercises can also trigger heartburn. Solution: eat more of fruits and vegetables and avoid alcohol, coffee, fried and spicy food. Swim instead of going for a run.
The stomach behaves like a washing machine, churning the digesting food into a mush known as chyme. Problem: ulcers occur when gastric juice burns a hole in the lining of your stomach.
- Animal proteins: Egg yolk – 30 minutes, whole egg – 45 minutes, fish – between 30 and 60 minutes. Chicken – 1 1/2 to 2 hours (without skin). Turkey – 2 to 2 1/4 hours (without skin). Beef, lamb – 3 to 4 hours and pork – 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
Health Total Plan
What’s in Health Total Digestion Plan?
A perfect diet should contain all the essential nutrients for the body’s overall well-being. Keeping this in mind, Health Total’s digestion plan commences with detoxification of the liver, kidneys, and intestines, followed by healthy diet and using Ayurvedic herbs. It includes:
What you eat can lead to digestive problems, therefore, it is important to eat healthy. People who suffer from indigestion often complain of acidity, gas, and constipation. Our digestion plan recommends consuming more of functional foods to calm down the digestive system and thus balance the system. So if you’re suffering from acidity, we suggest drinking more of buttermilk, lime water, coconut water and peppermint green tea.
Lemon-ginger juice, one cup of 30 ml daily after a meal, will keep gas problems at bay. If you are suffering from frequent constipation, include more of high-fiber food such as husk, chia and flax seeds. Fiber reduces appetite, improves digestion and lowers cholesterol. This apart, combinations of ginger-mint and amla-mint keep the body nourished. Other juices included in our plan include wheat grass juice and aloe vera juice.
Ayurveda says the root cause of all the diseases and disorders, especially lifestyle diseases like diabetes, is in the improper digestion of food. So at Health Total, we use different Ayurvedic herbs like Triphala (assists natural internal cleansing of the GI tract), avipatikar (classical formula for hyperacidity and heartburn) and livomyn (for liver disorders) that allow one to get the most nutrition from one’s dietary intake. The role of each herb is as follows:
Triphala: Triphala, a traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulation comprising three fruits – Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), is the most widely used Ayurveda formula because of its unique ability to detoxify and rejuvenate the body. Triphala is not only used as a gentle bowel tonic, but it also supports healthy respiratory and cardiovascular systems. For those with sluggish digestion and build-up of ama (toxins), Triphala is said to kindle the digestive fire and help improve digestion.
Avipatikar: It is a classical formula that works wonders for those suffering from hyperacidity and heartburn. Avipatikar is a Sanskrit term which means an eradicator of all kinds of problems. Ayurveda recommends Avipatikar Churna, that removes heat from the small intestine, providing an antidote to pungent foods. It also has antioxidant properties due to the presence of Vitamin C content that is contained in its constituent Amla.
Livomyn: Livomyn tablet is a combination of time-tested and well-documented herbs for liver disorders. It offers antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the liver cells from various toxins. The combination of these herbs — Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata) and Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri) — improves appetite, reduces gas and calms indigestion and hyperacidity.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes every day will help you regularize the flow of free fatty acids for burning. Walking and jogging make a big difference when you’re on our digestion plan. You can not only lose weight but also manage your digestion effectively.