Our lives are a collection of experiences. Some days are fulfilling while others are difficult…
- The stomach has a very thick mucous lining that protects it from corrosive digestive juices. Without this lining, the stomach would digest itself.
- The small intestine of an average adult is about 22 feet long. the entire length of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus is about 30 ft long.
- The human mouth secretes about 1 liter of saliva in a day
The ability of the body to properly take in food, digest it, extract nutrients, and expel what is not needed is often underrated and underplayed. The digestive tract is like a huge factory with machinery continuously working automatically.
However, complications are bound to occur once in a while, and that may affect the efficiency of the system. There is a wide variety of digestive problems out there, from constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal pain, and others.
All these are mainly caused by some of the things we eat and/or fail to eat. Fortunately for us, most of the digestive conditions can be easily rectified by a little alteration of the diet.
Below are some of the foods that you need to eat to improve your digestion.
Water constitutes 70% of the human body, that is not an accident. Every function in the body runs on water, from the movement of blood and nutrients around the body to the regulation of body temperature on the skin surface.
Digestion cannot occur without water either.
Water keeps constipation at bay and it can be taken in through many ways. You can choose to directly drink water in which case 2 liters a day will work just fine. You can also choose to eat fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelons, cucumbers, or zucchini. The bottom line is, stay hydrated as much as you can.
An apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away.
Apples contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which once broken down by bacteria in the small intestine, is able to increase stool bulk – an effective counter to constipation and diarrhea.
Pectin also regulates the pace of digestion by forming a gel that makes you feel fuller a little longer. This helps you space out your meals which allows more time for digestion of your last meal to take place efficiently.
This is one of the most versatile fruits on the planet.
Avocados are a rich source of dietary fiber; the insoluble fiber absorbs water as it moves down the digestive tract softening stool along the way, the perfect solution for constipation issues.
On top of this, the fiber in avocado significantly lowers the risks of diverticular disease – a condition where little pocket growths develop in the large intestines.
Bone broth is a highly nutritious fluid made by brewing bones and their connective tissues – parts that are otherwise hard to chew through.
Bone broth contains an amino acid called glutamine. This fortifies the intestinal wall mucous lining that protects the intestines from corrosive digestive enzymes and at the same time helps in the repair of breaches and tears.
Glutamine also plays a vital role in fighting inflammatory diseases of the bowel.
The digestive tract is home to over 100 million bacteria, both good and bad. The good bacteria help in the process of digestion in various ways.
Yogurt is the sole source of one of the most important bacteria called Lactobacillus bulgaricus which helps to accelerate bowel movement.
Moreover, when taken, antibiotics have the tendency to wipe out bacteria from the body; some of the good bacteria get destroyed in the process. Taking yogurt is the safest way to repopulate them for a healthier gut.
Diarrhea is a common digestive complication that leads to loss of body fluids very quickly. On top of taking water as a re-hydration measure, bananas should also feature prominently in what you eat afterward.
Bananas are rich sources of electrolytes and potassium, two things that get lost when you experience diarrhea. They are also sources of fibers like pectin and resistant starch. Resistant starch usually ends up as food for the good bacteria in the large intestine.
Lean Meat and Fish
Wolfing down a piece of juicy red meat is a satisfying experience, but it becomes a problem once the meat reaches the digestion area. The digestive system finds it hard to deal with red meat. Lean meat on the other hand is easier to handle.
Lean meat from chicken and fish contain less fat than red meat. The fats found in red meat slow down digestion and have also been linked to increased risks of colon cancer.
Salmon ranks highly in the seafood category as it contains substantial amounts of Omega-3 which reduces gut inflammation.
Lemongrass has been used by humans for ages, dating back to ancient China. Known for its wonderful taste, lemongrass is best ingested into the body as tea. Lemongrass tea has soothing effects on the stomach keeping mild pains at bay.
Furthermore, lemongrass contains two vital compounds geranial and citral that have anti-inflammatory properties.
The herb also helps with constipation and bloating as well as lowering the risk of gastric ulcers. So next time you feel any discomfort in the stomach, try a cup of lemongrass tea first.
Kefir is a probiotic agent that is made up of cultured dairy products. The fermented milk drink is a thinner version of yogurt and is very popular in Asia.
Some variations of Kefir have been found to house over 30 different strains of beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus included. A single glass can repopulate your gut with bacteria that will boost your overall digestion.
The fermentation process and the thinning involved in the creation of kefir also makes it palatable to lactose-intolerant people.
As much as fiber-rich foods have been touted as the go-to options when it comes to boosting digestion, sometimes eating too much of them may lead to complications. To counter this, Papayas come into play.
Papayas contain an enzyme called papain which helps in the breaking down of insoluble protein fibers.
Papain has also been found to be effective against constipation and bloating as well as easing of irritable bowel syndrome.
Nausea can be an irritable condition that can rob you of your appetite. Ginger prevents nausea and has been used for ages by pregnant women to keep morning sickness at bay.
Ginger also accelerates gastric emptying, this reduces complications brought about by slow digestion. By expediting the movement of food along the digestive tract, ginger reduces the risk of heartburn and other gut discomforts.
Spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other common leafy greens like kales are rich in fiber. These foods bulk up your stool hence accelerating their movement along the tract.
Most green vegetables are also rich in magnesium, which improves gastrointestinal muscle contractions that keep constipation in check.
Leafy vegetables also contain natural sugars that end up as food for beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
The digestive tract is a tough system that can withstand a lot. However, this does not mean that it is invincible. A lot of foreign materials pass through the whole length of it and therefore the risk of something going awry is never far away.
To make things easier for your stomach, try as much as you can to eat at least one of the aforementioned foods once a day.
It may look like a lot of work but it will save you an expensive trip to the hospital someday.