The digestive system is made up of a group of organs that break down food and convert them into sugar and energy for the whole body to use. The digestive system is also known as the gastrointestinal tract.
This system is made up of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestines and the large intestines. It is also made up of accessory organs like the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver.
The main function of this system is to break the foods we eat into absorbable forms of energy that the body can easily use. When the digestive system has problems; digestion is affected and this can affect the whole body and cause lots of health problems.
Some of the problems caused are indigestion, malnutrition, intestinal cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, leaky gut, and a sluggish digestive system. A healthy digestive system protects the defense system of the body thereby boosting the immune system.
Healthy lifestyles that support a healthy digestive system
Our lifestyles and daily habits can affect how our digestive systems function; making healthy changes and dropping bad habits will go a long way in helping us have healthy digestion of foods.
Eat healthy foods: The type of food eaten on a regular base can affect our digestive system; it can either improve its function or slow it down. Junk foods and highly processed foods that have been stripped of its nutrients and fibers are dangerous to the digestive system.
This leads to indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome; the chemicals or preservatives added to these foods are toxins and they are poisonous to the body. To make your digestive system healthy; take more of organic and whole foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds should be in your diet daily, you also need to include herbs and herbal teas in your diet. Do not overcook your vegetables.
Don’t eat fruits with other foods; this is because fruits are easily digested than other foods, so when you mix them, they will stay in the stomach longer and this will lead to bloating. Fruits are best taken on an empty stomach and in-between meals; wait at least 30 minutes after meals to eat fruits.
Increase your intake of probiotics: Probiotics are known as healthy bacteria or friendly bacteria; they don’t harm the body but rather help digestion and boost the immune system by fighting harmful and dangerous bacteria.
They are microscopic and they make the intestines their habitat; they also help in the synthesis of vitamins and short-chain fatty acids, they help in the breakdown of foods, they prevent infection and inflammation.
Fermented foods and drinks like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and Kombucha are good sources of probiotics; you can also take a good probiotic supplement.
Eat fiber-rich foods: Fibers boost healthy digestion and they prevent constipation; they also serve as foods for the friendly bacteria in the gut. Fiber-rich foods are fruits and vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, ginger, and turmeric.
Improve your stomach acid: Weak concentration of hydrochloric acid also known as stomach acid cause lots of digestive problems; weak stomach acid makes the stomach work harder for foods to be properly digested.
Most times due to poor digestion caused by weak stomach acid; the food stays longer in the stomach and this leads to fermentation and pressure starts to build.
This leads to gas, bloating, heartburn and other discomfort. Increase the strength of your stomach acid by taking lemon water and apple cider vinegar daily.
Drink lots of water: Enough water is needed in the body for proper digestion to take place; water is needed for the production of gastric juices, stomach acids, digestive enzymes and other important liquids that aids digestion like bile. Dehydration can lead to serious and painful constipation.
Don’t take cold water when eating, and it shouldn’t be taken before meals either. It dilutes stomach acids and digestive juices; it also slows down digestion by solidifying oill2s. If you must, take cold water 30 minutes before meals and do not take it after meals until your foods have been properly digested.
Regular exercise: Regular and moderate exercise keep the digestive system healthy and keeps problems like constipation, indigestion, and obesity at bay. 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is enough to maintain proper functions of the digestive system.
Quit smoking and don’t drink excessively: Smoking affects every system of the body and the digestive is not left out; this unhealthy habit destroys the lining of the GIT and it causes irritation and stomach ulcers. Even secondhand smoke can cause digestive problems; tobacco smoke, in general, has been linked with colon cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, indigestion, and heartburn.
Excessive intake of alcohol affects the liver and its functions, and this organ helps in digestion by producing bile which helps the body digest fats. Excess alcohol leads to the toxicity of the liver, fatty liver, liver cancer, alcohol-induced hepatitis and many liver problems.it also increases the concentration of stomach acid and this is not healthy.
Avoid stress: Chronic stress can impair the functions of the digestive system; the brain and gut are connected, so excess stress can make the digestive system overwork. Stress also increases the levels of adrenaline in the body; this can lead to diarrhea and frequent movement of bowels because digestion time is shortened.
Avoid excessive use of medications: Both prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause digestive problems as side effects; they can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bleeding sores, constipation and abdominal pain. Use natural remedies in place of these drugs except in serious conditions where quick relief are needed.
Don’t overeat and don’t rush your food: overeating puts more pressure and strain on the digestive system; it overburdens it and can lead to a lot of problems. Also, don’t rush your food; eat slowly and chew your food properly before swallowing it. When you chew your foods properly before swallowing it; you will not gulp air which can later cause bloating, indigestion, gas and constipation. It will even make digestion easier and quicker.
Make sure you don’t eat while you are being distracted; eat with full concentration if not you will suffer indigestion. Find time to relax after eating; do not rush straight to work or bed. It can cause indigestion, bloating, weight gain, abdominal fat and other digestive disorder.
Don’t eat late at night; once its 7 pm, all forms of food intake should stop except water. This can lead to weight gain, it can disrupt the levels of hormones, especially melatonin and this can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders. There should be a three hours period between your dinner and bedtime.
When you eat and immediately you go to sleep or have a nap; you are causing problems as this will slow digestion, it will also increase the chances of having heartburn because stomach acid can move up into the esophagus.
Wash your hands regularly: This will prevent invasion of germs and pathogens that can cause digestive problems in the body; we can use our hand to touch contaminated things and surfaces without us knowing; so to guard against this, we need to wash our hands regularly especially after using the toilet, before eating and when preparing meals.
Know your triggers: Know foods that you are allergic to and try to avoid them; read the packs of pre-packaged foods to see if they wanted what you are allergic to. The best way to avoid food allergies to prepare your foods yourself so that you know what you are eaten but in situations where you can’t do that, properly read the labels before consumption.
Do not hold it in: Do not hold wastes in; whenever nature calls, always answer promptly, if not, it can lead to constipation and injury. Waste products are toxic and when left in the intestines for longer than usual, they can damage the intestine and cause other problems.