1. Fresh and unprocessed foods; like fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and fibre essential to the digestive system. They also provide vitamins and minerals essential for the chemical reactions necessary for absorption and assimilation of your foods into your body. Nutrients like Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin A, C and E are all needed for protection, healing and function of the digestive system. Foods like chia, oats and flax are mucilaginous, so gentle on the digestive tract but allow bulk stool and help to balance sugar levels. Lastly the fibre is food for the beneficial bacteria
2. Bacteria; Bacteria are at the centre of this. Not only do they help provide us with Vitamin B12, K, bile salts for fat metabolism and also helps digest carbohydrates. Bacteria outnumber our cells by almost 10:1 and every strain (‘bad’ or ‘good’) has a role within the body. They have been seen to suppress growth and over proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria, particularly those that ‘stick’ to the inside of the digestive lining. They support the immune system, reduce inflammation, reduce IBS and IBD symptoms, digest carbohydrates into short-chain fatty acids and proteins, support leaky gut healing and reduce prolonged diarrhea. Use multi-strain and high levels of probiotic (see here) or use an alive source by consuming fermented foods like Kefir and Kombucha (More information in my book Culture Your Life)
3. Protein; Especially Glutamine which is an amino acid essential in digestive (especially mucosal lining) repair. All cells in the body are made from a protein and fat molecules (phospholipids). In a weakened digestive system protein can be difficult to break down and actually cause issues by becoming fetid in the gut especially if the protein is from an animal source that has been exposed to antibiotics or synthetic hormones. The nutrient in protein necessary for repair and healing are the short-chain peptides. A good way to get these is by consuming white fish, processed vegan protein with digestive support (like here) or fermented products like tempeh or beans. Animal protein is still highly beneficial. Ensure you slow cook,you chew well, take your time with your meal, be adequately hydrated, have good stomach acid production (use lemon water, bitter food or apple cider vinegar daily) and plenty of fibre (see above) to ensure movement of food through the bowel. Eggs are also a great source.
4. Fats; such as Coconut, Omega 3 (fish oils), flax and fermented cod liver oil. Fats, together with protein make up every cell wall (see above) and provide healthy cells by promoting growth and repair. Another crucial role in digestive health is that they may also reduce inflammation, often seen in digestive weakness and especially leaky gut and irritated situations. Coconut oil also contains anti-microbial properties which help to support a balanced bacterial environment.
5. Water; essential for life, a liquid state is necessary for all absorption and assimilation in the digestive system. Water is necessary for chemical reactions, saliva production, stomach acid production, pancreatic juice and bile production plus cleaning out the digestive system and supporting the movement of the food. Water is essential to create energy within the cells and promotes the integrity of the shape of the cell. Filtered water is the best form as any chemical included in the water may further irritate the digestive lining.
Thanks to Paul for the Water Image courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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