It's the holiday season, and rich foods are in abundance. But how is this time of year taking its toll on your digestion? A diet of the wrong foods (processed, refined, low-fiber) prepared the wrong way (too much fat and salt), eaten too quickly, and in too large portions is a recipe for intestinal distress. In fact, most digestive disorders – from heartburn, bloating, constipation and indigestion to ulcers, reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome – can be traced to poor eating habits and improper nutrition.
There are actually four primary principles involved in good digestion, most easily remembered by the acronym DEAN:
D: Digesting food
E: Eliminating waste
A: Absorbing nutrients
N: Normalizing the bacteria
There are a number of natural substances that assist in performing these functions, helping you to overcome intestinal or digestive problems.
The first step in the digestive process is breaking down food nutrients into a simple sugar form that can be absorbed and used by the body. The primary enzyme groups amylase, protease, and lipase, as well as lactase and cellulase, enable the body to digest the four major food groups by breaking down fats, carbohydrates and protein.
While the previous enzymes are produced by our bodies – primarily the pancreas – other enzymes are found in plant foods. Papain, found in papaya, and bromelain, from pineapples, help digest the proteins in food.
Ginger has long been used as an aid for gastrointestinal distress and as a tonic for the digestive tract.
The key to helping your intestines and colon stay healthy is fiber, but most people are fiber deficient.
Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol and delays glucose absorption, while insoluble fiber speeds the transit time of food passing through the GI tract. A combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber from sources such as fruits and whole grains as well as beans and some vegetables provides both benefits.
Glucomannan is a very unique source of water soluble fiber, able to absorb 200 times its weight in water. Because it is so powerful, a much smaller amount is needed than of other soluble fibers such as psyllium or bran to achieve the same results.
More natural tips for better digestion
Even if we eat the foods our body needs, it won’t do any good unless the food is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, allowing the nutrients to be distributed to the cells throughout the body.
Hawthorn, long used as a digestive aid, can be an important supplement for those concerned about absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
Normalizing the bacteria
God designed the digestive tract to selectively absorb the things that are beneficial to us and to eliminate those things that are bad for us. The first line of defense against unwelcome foreign invaders of the body are the 400 species of good bacteria, or probiotics, that live in the colon.
Bifodobacteria bifidum and lactobacillus acidophilus are two of the main strains of these good bacteria. They help balance the intestinal microflora by stopping or slowing the growth of harmful bacteria, promoting good digestion, boosting immune function and increasing resistance to infection.
Fructooligosaccharides are naturally occurring carbohydrates that cannot be digested or absorbed by humans but can support the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Arabinogalactan is an excellent source of dietary fiber that enhances beneficial gut flora and appears to act as a balancer in the immune system.
Putting it all together
All of these natural substances have been combined in our Digestion Support to support the four primary principles of good digestion – DEAN – and put you on the pathway to healing.