Digestion and digestive issues

The digestive system is vast, stretching from the mouth and ending at the anus. It is an intricate system that is vital to maintaining our health and well-being with thousands of processes and chemical reactions taking place every second without us having to give it any thought.

For most of us this carefully designed system causes us no problems at all, it simply does what it needs to do and gives us no real indication that it is undertaking the enormous task of breaking down every bit of food we eat and extracting the nutrients from it.

The only time we think about it is when we encounter issues like indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation, which the majority encounter only now and again, but for some of us, being aware of our digestion system is something that we encounter on a daily basis – this is when things are not working as they should.

It appears that more people are seeking help and support for these troubles and nutritionists are finding it more commonplace to have a client come to us with numerous digestive symptoms, some of which are beginning to plague their lives.

It isn’t surprising that given the size and intricate nature of the digestive system that it needs us to support it and there are many things that we can do that can help it work effectively and with minimum discomfort.

Choosing foods that are rich in insoluble fibre, such as wheat bran, celery, couscous and dark leafy vegetables are a great support to enabling us to maintain the regularity of our bowel. This type of fibre isn’t able to be digested and contributes to increase the bulk of our stool. This bulk supports the movement of the waste through the intestine and reducing the likelihood of constipation, which can make us feeling bloated and sluggish.

So what about bacteria?

Scientists have showed us that there are trillions of live bacteria that inhabit our digestive system and that these are vital to maintaining our digestive health. Sadly, the balance of these bacteria can be governed by many factors, some of which are out of our control.

There is growing evidence that supplementing with live bacteria shows positive effects on some people.

Research has shown that supplementing with live bacteria may provide some potential for health and that these live bacteria are not all the same, with many genus, species and strains having already been identified.

We are beginning to understand that the strains of the species have difference mechanism of action and some may be more appropriate to you.

So, it may not be useful to simply pick up a box of any ‘probiotics’ as it may not be the most useful one for you.

Another issue is how many live bacteria should there be in a good quality product. Many people still believe that more must mean better, but this may not be the case. In fact with the advances in capsulation technology it is no longer necessary to take billions and billions of live bacteria in the hope of getting some to reach the intestine alive.

Many of the new companies make their products which contain a few billion of a single or couple of strains encapsulated in a time release so they don’t come into contact with the harsh environment of the stomach.

When it comes to finding the right live bacteria, or “probiotic” as it is frequently called for you, it is always worth asking a nutritionist for their advice as they will be able to tailor the right prescription of you to meet your needs.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Ryton, Tyne And Wear, NE40
Written by Steven Pearson-Brown, RNutr. FRSPH. MRSB. MSc. PgCert. BSc. (HONS)
Ryton, Tyne And Wear, NE40

Steven is passionate about ensuring the public are able to access information about nutrition and its role in health and well-being that is accessible and based on solid facts. He feels strongly that as everyone is individual that information and advice should be tailored to that individual, addressing their personal needs and ambitions.

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