How to Maintain Healthy Digestion

How to Maintain Healthy Digestion

Oral and digestive problems are becoming very common and are affecting increasing numbers of people today due to our fast-paced and modern lifestyles. Indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), lethargy and bad breath are typical signs and symptoms of a poor digestion.

Indigestion also refers to as abdominal pain, bloating, or heartburn. It is a very common sign of digestive complication but it is often ignored. Although indigestion itself is not a life-threatening illness, it can have a long-term impact on health if not rectified.

For example, poor digestion can weaken one’s immunity as the nutrients from food are not well absorbed. You may also be surprised to learn that a sluggish digestion can affect your social and professional life! Chronic bad breath is a common and alarming signal of digestive disorder, however, many individuals are completely unaware of it.

Apart from a stressful lifestyle, other factors which can have a negative impact on our digestion are long-term medication, irregular meals, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, caffeine, dairy products, carbonated beverages, and a poor diet.

Know Your Gut - The Powerful Inside

Digestion begins from the mouth where foods are being broken down into smaller pieces. Food then travels through the esophagus into the stomach. Highly acidic gastric juices in the stomach further assist in breaking down the food and also kills most of the bacteria present in the food (first line defense of the immune system). The partly digested food then enters the small intestine where they are further broken down.

Nutrients and energy are released when food is broken down by the action of different enzymes. Energy sustains our daily activities while the nutrients ensure our body functions at its optimum level. Any unabsorbed food materials will continue the journey into the large intestine. The large intestine is responsible for flushing out all the unwanted (unabsorbed) food materials and toxins.

The body benefits by receiving the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. But in reality, hectic lifestyles today can affect one or more steps of the digestion process and compromise the integrity of other systems in the body.

The table below lists the causes of some of the common digestive problems faced as a result of our modernized lifestyles:

Digestive Organs Digestive Problems & Possible Causes:
Mouth Tooth Decay
  • Poor diet - i.e. high in refined carbohydrates
  • The refluxed acid eroding tooth enamel
Mouth Ulcers
  • Bad bacteria accumulates in the mouth
Esophagus Heartburn
  • Overeating
  • Increased pressure due to obesity or pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of caffeinated, acidic or spicy foods
Stomach Ulcers
  • Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) bacteria infection and/or low gastric acid secretion
Indigestion / Bloating
  • High-fat and/or low fiber diets
  • Stress & anxiety
  • Food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance)
Intestines Constipation / Diarrhea
  • Poor eating habits
  • Tension or anxiety

The Essentials for Healthy Digestion

Nutrients Importance for Maintaining Healthy Digestion
Probiotics (aka Friendly Bacteria)
  • Useful in helping to relieve indigestion and/or constipation
  • It is also crucial to take a probiotic supplement if one recently completed an antibiotic course as antibiotics kill off both the good and bad bacteria in the gut.
  • Some people who are lactose-intolerant may also find probiotics useful in helping relieve their symptoms.
  • Look for probiotics containing Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium bacteria as these bacteria normally colonize the human digestive tract. If one frequently experiences oral problems, try looking for a formula with Lactobacillus salivarius, which supports oral health.
Digestive Enzymes
  • Assist in the proper breakdown of food so nutrients are properly absorbed.
  • There are special formulations for those with lactose or gluten intolerance.
Prebiotics (e.g. inulin)
  • Prebiotics are special dietary fibers that may have been shown to support the growth of good bacteria already present in the colon.
  • Is an amino acid, supports digestive healthy by aiding in the maintenance of the intestinal lining, promoting repair of the gut wall, and potentially reducing intestinal permeability or "leaky gut".
Dietary Fiber
  • May help to regulate bowel movement. Aim to consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
Chamomile Tea, Peppermint Tea
  • Peppermint tea is an excellent stomach soother.
  • However, some individuals may find that peppermint tea worsens their acid reflux symptoms. Hence, for this group of individuals, chamomile tea is an ideal alternative choice.
  • Ginger may be effective in reducing stomach gas, bloating, diarrhea and nausea symptoms.
Aloe Vera, Licorice
  • May soothe heartburn and assist in healing the gastrointestinal lining.
Zinc (with L-carnosine)
  • Helps in healing of stomach ulcers, reducing inflammations and improving digestion.

VitaKids Recommends

For Adults

  • A good strength of multi-strain probiotics
  • A multi-digestive enzyme complex
  • Zinc (with L-carnosine)
  • Aloe Vera
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Licorice
  • A good source of Fiber
  • L-Glutamine (leaky gut)

For Children

  • A good strength of multi-strain probiotics
  • A multi-digestive enzyme complex
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • A good source of Fiber

Other Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Digestion

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber-rich foods, e.g. fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • Chew your food thoroughly. Digestion starts in the mouth and chewing alerts the rest of the digestive system.
  • Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods.
  • Engage in a regular detoxification program.
  • Eat in a relaxed environment, one that is without distraction from TV, books, etc.
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