Digestion has been the hot topic this month for me with regards to my studies.
I covered some digestion tips, perfect for preventing/easing discomfort and showing your digestive system some love! Hopefully they prove useful. Some are quite obvious but it’s only when you sit back and consider the impact that small changes and fluctuations in patterns, routines and behaviours can make that it really hits home!
There were quite a few facts which I discovered the weekend of lectures and during my reading over the course of the week which proved particularly interesting with regards to the digestive system.
They may or may not prove interesting to you, but I certainly like finding out more about how my body is working its magic!
Here’s a few “Did you knows?”…
- The wall of the stomach secretes 400-800ml of gastric juice at each meal.
- The intrinsic factor, produced by the parietal cells in the stomach is required to absorb vitamin B12; it effectively protects vitamin B12 from digestion so it can be later absorbed in the small intestine. People who lack the intrinsic factor therefore have to get vitamin B12 injections to ensure they maintain adequate levels! (I had one once when I was about 12 or 13….though I can’t really remember what led to the event, I do remember having to get the shot in my ass, I guess it’s just one of those things you never forget!)
- Alcohol and certain drugs like aspirin are absorbed in the stomach hence the rapid appearance of alcohol in the blood after drinking it and the quick relief of headaches once you take aspirin; I stay clear of both but it’s interesting to know!
- Carbohydrates tend to stay in the stomach for about 30 minutes as opposed to protein which lingers there for the best part of 2 -3 hours. Therefore it’s best to avoid eating them together as the carbohydrates will ferment in the stomach if held there for longer than is necessary can lead to bloating, wind, gas, cramping and malabsorption of micro nutrients.
- An ideal transit time…i.e. from ingestion to excretion, is between 18 – 24hours. People have different perceptions of what’s “normal” but in reality anything more than three days without a bowel movement is considered constipation.
- 70% of the bodies immune system dwells in the digestive tract owing to the impact of undigested food molecules causing autoimmune reactions and consequential diseases.
- The average adult is host to 1-2kg of friendly gut bacteria; the bacteria out number the total number of cells in the entire human body many times over!
- Vitamin A helps maintain the integrity of the digestive tract; Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Cantaloupe Melon and Dried Apricots are good sources of Vitamin A!
- Diets high in saturated or hydrogenated fats suppress immunity and clog up the lymphatic vessels.
- Peppermint tea will actually irritate digestive problems that are occurring in the stomach; though they will ease those experienced in the small intestine so it’s important to consider where in the body and how long after you’ve eaten you are experiencing discomfort before brewing a cuppa!
- Eating fermented foods will help feed the good bacteria in your gut improving digestion and preventing infection. Foods to eat include miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and kombucha! Sugar actually feeds the bad bacteria, like adding fuel to a flame so a reduction in intake is best advised!
- Taking supplements is unlikely to be the answer to your problems; the digestive system and whole process is complex and taking a supplement, particularly in tablet form is unlikely to be absorbed in same manner as nutrients found in your food.
- Strong correlations have been and continue to be made between mental health and the digestive system. The most shocking of which to me was Autism. Dr.Natasha Campbell McBride is at the forefront of the research and through her own experience and findings has developed the GAPS Diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet). Here is a link to a fantastic article. It deserves a whole post of it’s own! It’s based on the premise that disease begins in the digestive system and their fruition is an autoimmune response due to undigested large food molecules passing in to the gut. Very interesting stuff!
You really are what you eat! We have the ability to control the way our body behaves, responds, fights, and functions through what we choose to eat. It’s the same message that keeps be reiterated over and over for me and underpins the philosophy of nutritional therapy. Loving every minute of the learning; having my eyes well and truly pinned open to the potential and dynamic capabilities of the nutrients we supply our body with is proving altogether inspiring!