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How to Improve Digestion and Eliminate Digestive System Disorders

Updated on July 12, 2018
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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Live yogurt is great for digestive system health
Live yogurt is great for digestive system health | Source

Improve Your Digestive System

The human digestive tract is a tube about 30 feet (9 meters) in length, stretching from the mouth at one end to the anus at the other. Its function is to break down food, absorb the nutrients, and then eliminate the waste. Good health starts with good digestion, and if your digestive system is not working properly this will impact upon the health of your entire body. So if you want to know how to improve digestion and eliminate all your intestinal problems read on…

We in the Western world tend to have poor digestion, and we suffer from a whole range of digestive system disorders including flatulence, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, ulcers, hemorrhoids, gall stones, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, colitis, Celiac disease and outright cancer. And whilst the specific causes of each of these conditions may vary somewhat, we can improve our overall digestive system health and reduce or even eliminate most of these problems if we do the following…

Eat The Right Foods

The chief reason for the abundance of digestive system disorders in this country is eating the wrong foods. If you eat a lot of processed or refined foods, or foods full of sugar, synthetic colorings, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives, your digestion will suffer as a result of this. So keep your consumption of these types of foods to a minimum.

Instead, you can improve the function of your digestive system by eating mostly natural, unpackaged foods. Specifically this would include foods that are rich in fiber, such as whole grain products, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Beans are good too, but if you are not used to them, introduce them gradually. You could also sprinkle a little ginger on them, as this will aid their digestion as well as reducing gas formation.

You also need protein from such sources as meat, poultry, fish and eggs. And foods containing good fats are essential too. These include oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil etc. These good fats help to repair damaged cells and restore intestinal health.

Fermented foods (such as live yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut etc.) are also excellent for improving digestive system health, and they have many other health benefits too. So try to include some of these in your diet on a regular basis as well.

Reduce Bad Habits

Smoking causes damage to the intestinal tract, as does excessive alcohol consumption and drugs of any kind. For example, NSAIDs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) damage the stomach lining and antibiotics disrupt the entire ecological balance of the intestines by killing off the good bacteria as well as the bad. So only take them if you really need to.

Chew Your Food Properly

Digestion starts in the mouth, as the enzyme amylase begins to break down the starches in your food into glucose. If you chew your food well it will be easier to digest, and you'll be able to absorb the nutrients more effectively too.

Fast One Day Per Week

By going without food for 24 hours once per week you’ll be giving your digestive system a rest so it will be more efficient when you do eat. Fasting also exerts a very powerful healing effect on the body as a whole, so any stomach or intestinal problems you may have will begin to clear up during a fast. The benefits of regular intermittent fasting are cumulative – the longer you do it for the more you will benefit. Just drink water from dinner one day until dinner the next day once each week.

Use The Right Supplements

As always, supplements are secondary to a good diet, but there are a number of them that can help to improve digestion, as well as soothe and heal the entire intestinal tract, so helping you to overcome all manner of digestive system complaints. Four in particular are worth noting:

First is a good probiotic supplement. Probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to proper intestinal health. They keep the bad bacteria and yeasts in check, they help with the absorption of certain nutrients, and they synthesize short chain fatty acids from fiber. These short chain fatty acids aid in the repair of damaged intestinal cells.

Choose one from a reputable manufacturer (such as Garden of Life), as not all probiotics are created equal. It should contain at least 5 billion colony forming units (CFU) per capsule, and several different strains, including Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Take at least two capsules per day for 6 - 12 months if you have intestinal problems. Then reduce it to one capsule per day for the rest of your life.

Next is a prebiotic. Prebiotics are fibers that are fermentable by probiotics (such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides), and so they act as food for them. Prebiotics therefore encourage the growth and activity of probiotics.

Then there is aloe vera. This helps to soothe and heal the intestinal walls, so helping to alleviate all kinds of intestinal problems. If you have any digestive system disorders take double the recommended dosage for 6 - 12 months. Then stop taking it for a while, as aloe vera (in common with most medicinal plants) will only work for about this length of time before your body gets used to it.

Once again, make sure you choose a good quality brand that is made from the inner gel of the leaf (not the whole leaf, as the outer skin of the leaf is toxic).

And finally there is L-glutamine. This is an amino acid that helps to strengthen and repair the intestines. Take about 10 grams of the powder three times per day for a week if you have weak intestines. Then reduce it to a maintenance dose of 5 grams twice per day. Glutamine also causes a spike in human growth hormone, which can give additional health benefits.

Apart from these, certain herbs and spices such as peppermint, fennel and ginger help to improve digestion and soothe the stomach. Ginger also helps relieve nausea and motion sickness. And cider vinegar is great to take before meals as it is rich in digestive enzymes and helps to balance stomach acid too.

What about enemas and colonics? I do not recommend them, as they flush out all the good bacteria. If you eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fiber, and drink plenty of water, the colon is self cleansing and does not require such measures.

So now you know how to improve digestion and eliminate any digestive system disorders you may have. Improving your digestion will have a marked benefit on the health of your body as a whole, and will help to improve your quality of life well into old age. So do follow the advice given here, and your digestive problems should soon be a thing of the past.

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