Digestion… the road to health or disease?

Article by Emma Mansfield

We know that digestion is an essential process to unlock the nutrients and energy from the food we eat. However, incomplete digestion of foods can lead to putrefaction and fermentation of foods within the gut, which can literally poison our body from within. Poor digestion can also result in inflammation, allergy, dysbiosis and increased toxic load, none of which are beneficial to our health.  The toxic metabolites produced by dysbiosis impacts our cellular signalling mechanisms and may be in part responsible for the ‘systemic’ symptoms associated with food intolerances.

Digestive problems impact the day-to-day lives of 1 in 2 adults! So what simple solutions can we offer patients to improve their digestive system function and therefore improve their health and well-being?

• Eat smaller, more frequent meals. This will reduce the demand on the digestive system and allow better digestion by our enzymes

• Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Not only will you allow time for the ‘I’m full’ message to reach your brain, you also increase the surface area of the food available to enzymatic digestion

• Eliminate or minimize common reactive foods from the diet eg. wheat/dairy. These cause inflammation in the gut mucosa which reduce enzyme production

• Avoid drinking excessively during a meal as this can reduce enzyme activity. One glass of fluid is adequate. Drink at least 2 litres (8 glasses) of water between meals each day. This can include herbal teas as well as diluted fruit juices.

• Shop for fresh food regularly and keep your pantry stocked with good staples to make it easier to eat a healthy diet. Whenever you cook or prepare food, make double and freeze in individual containers for future meals. When preparing dinner make lunch at the same time. The best preparation is knowledge about healthy food options – a well informed choice will be the healthiest choice.

• Good habits can easily be established with a little effort and a positive frame of mind. A balanced healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring, bland, time consuming or expensive. Take back the control of your diet and health by making your own choices and stop allowing industry to dictate what you eat. And remember, food should be prepared, and eaten, with joy!

• And finally digestive function can be supported with lifestyle and dietary techniques, along with an arrange of supplementation/ herbal options.