Digestive Health – How to keep your digestive tract working effectively
In its simplest form, the role of digestion is to break down food, to absorb the nutrients for energy, growth and repair, and to eliminate waste. Another crucial role of the gut is for the immune system to promote 'tolerance' (to accept food as a ‘friend’ and not ‘foe’). Thereby reducing the likelihood of allergic reactions, something which is on the increase. The gut flora (also known as probiotics) play a vital role in this.
If any part of this process is not working effectively, the health of other parts of the body may be compromised. So, how do we keep our digestive system working effectively?
Maximise your vegetable intake. Research consistently shows that most people do not eat the recommended 5 portions of vegetables and fruit a day. Why is this so important? Firstly, the fibre in fruit and vegetables provide ‘fuel’ for the healthy gut flora, which in turn reduce the pathogenic (or bad) gut flora. Secondly, vegetables, in particular, are a rich source of minerals. Some of which are hard to obtain elsewhere, such as magnesium, which is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Roughly speaking 3 tablespoons is 1 portion of vegetables, so make sure that at least half of your plate is covered with vegetables.
Remove anything that may be contributing or causing your digestive problem (this could be wheat and/or diary for example), alcohol (to allow your digestive system to repair).
Repopulate your digestive tract, by choosing a high quality pro-biotic or prebiotic (that can support healthy gut flora).
Repair. This could include a number of different supplements, such as a short term course of L-glutamine. Or a number of different supplements which are also vital to the integrity of the gut, such as Zinc, Vitamins A, C and D. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral may help keep your digestive tract working effectively.
Exercise. Your gut is a muscle, so exercise will help keep it toned and help to supply it with the nutrients it needs to keep it healthy and to remove toxins.