The recent World Digestive Health Day trained the spotlight on the digestive system, which many poorly understand and often ignore. It also emphasized the importance of keeping this bodily part healthy.
The digestive system includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, colon and rectum, and is responsible for breaking down food into nutrients. To provide energy and nutrients to the body, it performs six major functions: ingestion, secretion, mixing and movement, digestion, absorption and excretion. It also maintains a bacterial balance within the digestive tract. A healthy balance helps protect the immune system by boosting the body’s natural defenses.
Thus, keeping tab on your digestive tract is necessary. Otherwise, the body can have problems absorbing nutrients. Poor digestion, fatty liver and gastrointestinal diseases like constipation and chronic inflammation are all signs of an unhealthy digestive system. Having an unhealthy digestive system can lead to various health issues, including liver cirrhosis, diabetes, thyroid and colon problems, among many others.
Here are tips to keep the digestive system healthy:
• Avoid heavily processed carbohydrates, like white rice and white bread, which can cause inflammation. Go for whole grains like oats and quinoa.
• Try to remove refined sugar from your diet. Use a sugar substitute instead. Refined sugar is believed to cause constipation and slow down food transit time in the digestive system.
• Snack on raw almonds instead of chips. Nuts, along with vegetables, seeds and beans, are healthy, natural sources of fiber.
• Instead of getting coffee or bubble tea (both of which contain caffeine), drink more water. Water helps keep your intestines smooth and flexible, so that your stools will be soft and easy to pass.
• Natural sources of probiotics like cultured foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and atchara, are all rich in organic acids, which support the growth of good bacteria. Miso, which is used for soups and sauces, is very rich in probiotics. Yogurt, of course, is the most popular source of probiotics.
• Instead of steaks and fried chicken, opt for salmon, which is rich in good fats to skip on the bad fats that can lead to having too much fat stored in the liver. A fatty liver is a sign of an unhealthy digestive system and will affect your entire health.
• Your gut is filled with good and bad bacteria. However, poor food and beverage choices, antibiotics and stress are killing off good bacteria, which you need to stay healthy. Instead of your daily fix of flavored fries, which is full of carbohydrates, fats and sodium, take a daily probiotic supplement, which can help with digestion and stimulate the immune system. If you have kids, make sure their digestive systems are in tiptop shape. Experts say probiotics may help ease your child’s digestive disorders and make potty training more manageable.
• Consult your doctor to learn more about probiotics.
• Consume aloe vera, olive oil, coconut water, figs, prunes and dates, which are laxative-rich foods.
Two digestive health products—Dulcolax and Essentiale Forte P—are on an awareness campaign on digestive system healthy, particularly on World Digestive Health Day.
Essentiale Forte P is for the liver and is said to contain phospholipids that repair damaged liver cell membrane, to help regenerate lost phospholipids and to restore normal functions of the liver. If the liver is damaged due to unhealthy lifestyle and diet, it affects the entire body, including the digestive health.
On the other hand, the laxative Dulcolax stimulates bowel movement and helps treat constipation and other bowel irregularities.
It is always best to foster healthy habits such as eating well and regularly consulting your doctor. Digestive health is associated with lifestyle and diet choices.