Written by USANA Health Sciences NOVEMBER 23, 2015 in Dr. Oz, Health & Fitness
This time of year we tend to focus more attention on holiday entertaining and indulging in calorie-dense foods and beverages and less on healthy eating and exercise.
Have you ever given much thought to how your body digests food? Do you have a well-functioning digestive system?
With the holidays fast approaching, this may be a good time to assess your digestive health so you can maintain a healthy gut.
Here are the basics—the food you eat is a diverse mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats as well as vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. The function of your digestive system is to break down this diverse combination so the nutrients can provide nourishment and energy throughout your body.
Since you need a variety of nutrients, your digestive system takes these whole foods and breaks them down into small molecules, using a variety of mechanical methods and enzyme-containing digestive juices. You absorb these molecules through the walls of your small intestine and into the bloodstream where they are transported throughout your body to be used for energy, growth, and tissue repair.
Unfortunately, as we age, the digestive process may become less efficient, leading to potential nutrient deficiencies. Maintaining health depends in part on a well-functioning digestive system.
5 Tips to Help Support Healthy Digestion
1: Chew your food thoroughly. Saliva moistens food particles and provides enzymes to start the process of starch and fat digestion. Chewing also signals the production of stomach acid and sets the pancreas and other support organs in motion to prepare to secrete enzymes into the small intestine.
2: An adequate amount of stomach acid is required to break down proteins. A decrease in stomach acid production can become more common as we age, and a variety of diseases and certain medications may also inhibit sufficient stomach acid production, including the overuse of antacids. Use antacids as directed and only when needed.
3: Some studies have shown that the production of pancreatic enzymes may decrease as you get older. Fortunately there are comprehensive enzyme supplements available to help with an age-related decline. However, do not kid yourself—supplementing with digestive enzymes will not make up for overindulging in unhealthy foods. Try starting your meal with fresh fruit or a salad, as fiber is also important for digestive health.
4: Eliminate foods you are allergic or sensitive to. Allergens can cause an immune response that triggers inflammation in the intestinal tract, which may interrupt the digestive process. Getting rid of these foods will help maintain a healthy environment in your GI tract.
5: And finally, especially during this time of year, commit to managing stress effectively. Research has shown that the intestines respond negatively to stress, which may impact the digestive process. Participating in regular exercise and eating meals at regular times in a relaxed environment may help decrease stress levels.
Understanding causes of digestive issues, how to reduce symptoms, and supplementing with a comprehensive digestive enzyme product as appropriate, will help most people enjoy this wonderful holiday season.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.