One of the primary jobs of our digestive system is to breakdown the food we eat and to absorb the nutrients from it so that we can continue to thrive. To make this happen effectively, the body has a number physical and chemical mechanisms in place. When these are working well, digestion is a dream. However, sometimes things get out of balance and digestion can become a grumbling, bubbling, burping and uncomfortable affair.
When we are looking to tune up the digestive system there are some key areas we can look at and some easy tips to digesting with ease.
1.Super stomach acid
The stomach contains a pool of acid designed to kill any ingested bugs and to start breaking down our food; particularly our fats. Sometimes the pH balance in this area can change through factors like stress, ageing and poor diet. If it gets too acidic we can suffer uncomfortable burning and it is not acid enough we might find we struggle to digest fatty foods. To support healthy stomach acid levels try lemon juice in water in the mornings or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a little water before your main meal.
2.Switch on your liver
The liver is designed to help with the removal of toxins, but also produces a substance called bile that is released into the digestive system and helps with the breakdown of fats and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Again if this is not working well you might find fatty foods hard to digest. To support optimal bile release eating bitter tasting foods can help. This taste is mostly found though eating vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables and most herbs; for example parsley.
3. Aiding enzymes
The body releases digestive enzymes in different places and in different times during the digestive process. The first place is in the mouth in our saliva, which can be triggered by just the smell or sight of food. Further enzymes are the produced in the stomach and small intestines or by the pancreas. There are different kinds of enzymes to breakdown different foods. For example protease breaks down protein, amylase carbohydrates, lipase fats and cellulose plant matter. There are also enzymes to break down gluten and dairy, however some people can be naturally low in these, which means they struggle to break down these foods. This is described as a gluten or dairy intolerance.
As we age our ability to create these enzymes can decline, so we can support the digestive system by regularly eating enzyme rich foods kiwifruit, pineapples, mango, ginger, papaya and avocado. Fermented foods can help such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and pickles as they contain both digestive enzymes and beneficial gut bacteria.
Clinicians DigestEase supports the healthy digestion of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and plant fibre, and also contains Tolerase™ G, which has been scientifically researched to assist in the digestion of gluten.
Author: Jane Cronin, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist.
Jane is a qualified Naturopath and Medical Herbalist and is the senior product specialist with Clinicians.
Douglas Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Auckland. Always read the label and use only as directed. Vitamins and minerals are supplementary to and not a replacement for a balanced diet. Consult a health care professional if symptoms persist.