The key to healthy digestion is to keep the gut and immune system healthy by eating the right foods, which can be broken down and absorbed properly, and by avoiding foods that are difficult to digest.
How efficiently we digest food makes the difference between feeling healthy and full of energy, or feeling rundown and tired. This is because we derive energy from food, and one of the main purposes of digestion is to turn the food we eat into fuel for body cells, and to break down food proteins into amino acids, from which the body makes new cells. These cells make up the first layer of the digestive tract and have a short life of about 4 days. Therefore, simply by taking in the right food and nutrients, you can rapidly build a healthy digestive tract.
All the nutrients we need to stay in perfect health are extracted from foods and drinks absorbed through the digestive tract. This inner tube is only the quarter the thickness of a sheet of paper and can easily be damaged by an unhealthy diet. Good nutrition as well as healthy immune cells and beneficial bacteria are all needed to keep the digestive system in good working order.
The Best Foods for digestion
The largest ever health-and-diet survey carried out in Britain by Patrick Holford (100% health Survey) found that those people who ate fresh fruit, seeds, nuts, fish and vegetables reported the healthiest digestion.
These foods contain enzymes that help them to be digested, but this only happens if the food is eaten raw or lightly cooked, and it must be chewed well. Therefore, eat fruits and vegetables as close to raw as possible, and if they are cooked then steam them lightly.
Chewing food well also makes a big difference. Enzymes in saliva help to break down carbohydrates, so chew food until the particles are well broken down.
Some foods that are beneficial for health can be hard for many people to digest. These include beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli. This is because the body is lacking an enzyme that helps it to digest these foods.
Fermenting these foods, as well as cooking beans and lentils in the correct way, rinsing them once or twice during the cooking process, helps to break down their digestion inhibitors. Sprouting seeds and grains or grinding them also makes them digestible.
The Worst Foods for digestion
The 100% health Survey found that the five foods most strongly linked to digestive problems were sugar, salt, meat, wheat and refined foods, which are mainly made of wheat. fish, on the other hand, was not linked to poor digestion.
Wheat contains a protein called gliadin (a type of gluten), which can aggravate many peoples' guts. A large number of people's immune systems react to this protein when it enters the bloodstream, so the less of it is eaten, the better digestion is.
Heal Your Digestive Tract
The digestive tract works hard to deal with the food we pile into it, and as consequence, gets easily damaged. antibiotics, caffeinated drinks and fried foods were found to be the worst culprits in the survey conducted. Over-indulgence in these foods results in the digestive tract becoming more permeable. Normally, protein is broken down into amino acids before it is passed to the bloodstream, but if the digestive tract becomes more permeable, undigested food proteins get through as well. The immune system then attacks them, and that is the basis of most food allergies.
glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It is essential for a healthy digestive tract and is also beneficial for the immune system and brain. This amino acid powers the gut and also heals it.
Glutamine is found abundantly in raw fruits and vegetables, and is also available in supplement form.
The body contains more bacteria that living cells. They flourish in a healthy digestive tract and die off in an unhealthy one. Therefore providing your digestive tract with the right strains of bacteria makes a big difference to digestion. These are the 'human strain' acidophilus and bifidus bacteria.
These probiotics have been found to produce a whole range of positive biochemical effects not only in the gut but also in the liver and blood. Animal studies have also found that they reduce the toxic elements in the guts of rats and stave off colon cancer.
These beneficial bacteria need the right foods to help maintain a correct balance in the gut. This is a diet rich in fiber found only in fresh, unprocessed fruit, vegetables and grains, as well as in pulses and seeds. They are known as prebiotics and foods rich in prebiotics include most fruits, chicory and soya beans.