Boost the power of your digestion
Are you getting all the benefits from the food you eat?
If your digestion is not working well, then you are not. Your food is passing through – and taking many of the valuable minerals, vitamins, and other nutritious goodies with it.
If you are over 35 years old – the efficiency of your digestion will be reducing every year. But you can stop this deterioration – or even reverse it; that is what this article is about.
Improve your digestion
If you improve your digestion you will better absorb the vital food components which keep you healthy. Otherwise, the organs of your body will slow down and become inefficient. You can then start to get more tired, and aches and pains will start to appear in different parts of your body.
You may start to say – “I’m getting older – it’s inevitable.” But I disagree; many ‘niggles’ such as these are avoidable or even reversible. As a practitioner, I have seen it happen many times.
That is not to say you can easily and quickly cure a serious health condition; of course not. If you are unwell, you should see a doctor and other health practitioners (preferably in the complementary health field), and get lots of information before deciding what you need to do.
But the tiredness and aches and pains of the type described above can often – even usually – be improved, or reversed. And, an important part of improving any health condition is – to improve your digestion
It will get good nutrition into your blood stream. This means that the body will have the ingredients it needs to keep the organs in good repair, and keep everything working well.
It really does make sense to boost the power of your digestion!
The three main parts of the digestion
First, a bit of biology. If you can get the following organs and areas working well, you will have great digestion.
- The mouth and teeth
- The stomach
- The small intestine – helped by the liver and pancreas
The mouth and teeth
Two things happen in the mouth:
A. The teeth crush the food to tiny fragments, these fragments are more easily digested, because the digestive enzymes can get to more of the surface area of the food.
B. Saliva mixes with the food particles. Enzymes in the saliva start the digestion of starches in the food.
Chewing is vital to good digestion. It is no good ‘inhaling’ your food – in other words, hardly chewing it. For the best digestion, the food swallowed should be a near liquid consistency. Take time to chew.
The food is then swallowed and passed to:
Here, digestive juices, including hydrochloric acid, are mixed with the food, starches are further digested, and the breakdown of protein begins.
If too much hydrochloric acid is produced – that can, eventually, eat away the protective mucous covering of the stomach, and eat a wound in the surface – an ulcer. After a long, long time, this wound can become so deep, that the stomach wall is pierced – this is a ‘perforated ulcer’. Acid can then get through to the abdominal cavity itself – a life-threatening situation, as it quickly leads to serious inflammation and infection.
The main factor identified as causing stomach ulcers is the presence of bacterium helicobactor pylori (H. pylori), which burrows into the stomach mucosa of susceptible people. This bacterium is estimated to be a major factor in 80-90% of stomach ulcers. It is known that H. pylori is not responsible alone for
causing the ulcer because there are many people in whom the bacterium is present but who do not develop stomach ulcers. However, the additional factor(s) necessary are at present unknown.
Other causes of a stomach ulcer in the remaining 10-20% of cases include use of certain pharmaceuticals (including the anti-inflammatory ‘NSAID’ type as well as excessive use of aspirin and ibuprofen). Stress has an influence, but probably as an aggravating, rather than causative, factor.
A doctor can test whether H. Pylori is responsible for an ulcer by testing the blood for ‘antibodies’ to H. Pylori.
No doubt herbal and other methods can kill H pylori but there are no well-known reliable methods which work quickly. If readers know of any, please let us know at AHZ. Although we are against the use of antibiotics, it seems that this is one option to be very seriously considered in the case of stomach ulcers. This is especially because:
- Antibiotics work quickly and reliably against H. pylori for most people – 4-6 weeks or so
- They are effective – though the course sometimes has to be repeated a second time; once eradicated, the ulcer does not return – at least for a long period of time
- The major disadvantages of antibiotic use is probably outweighed, for most people, by the avoidance of the discomfort and dangers of a stomach ulcer (the danger of anaemia and perforation)
The antibiotic use is probably enhanced (studies show) by the use of a good quality pro-biotic (supplementation with acidophilus and other friendly bacteria) during treatment. You should also definitely continue the same supplementation after any antibiotic treatment for a long time – perhaps 3 months. This helps to restore the natural friendly bacteria in the gut which, unfortunately, antibiotics kill.
If you cannot, or will not, take antibiotics, contact trusted alternative therapy practitioners in your area to identify who has actually had success in treating H. pylori. It cannot be emphasised enough that your chances of success in treating this bacterium without antibiotics is much more likely if you can find someone who has treated it successfully in a number of patients already.
To assist healing of the ulcer, accompany the pro biotic with plenty of slippery elm drink which will help the body to heal the mucosa.
Here, the digestion of protein is completed, with the help of enzymes from the pancreas. (This is the second function of the pancreas – its other one is the production of insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in the blood.)
In the small intestine fats are also digested. To help with this, bile – a liquid made in the liver, and stored in the gall bladder – is added to the food. The storage of bile is the only function of the gall bladder.
The bile emulsifies fats in the same way as washing-up-liquid emulsifies grease. The fats can then be absorbed and transported to where they are needed, for example to build the important covering of our nerves – the nerve sheaths.
As food is squeezed down the small intestine, the digestion releases more and more food particles from the food, which are absorbed. These particles pass into the blood stream, where they are distributed according to the body’s needs.
The colon, or large intestine, also has a role in digestion. It re-absorbs water back into the blood stream, and helps in the production of vitamin K.
We have had great success with the use of herbal products to help improve the digestion. They work quite gently, but over a course of treatment can produce a tremendous improvement in digestive function.
Herbs for the digestion include: gentian, rheum (‘turkey’ rhubarb), barberry, sweet flag, chamomile and peppermint.
‘Carminative’ herbs, which help to ‘calm’ digestion after a meal, and settle the digestion include many of the Eastern spices – for example cumin, cardamom, fennel and cinnamon.
Proprietary products for the digestion often include some of these herbs. Choose a good one, and stick with it for several months. If you can find a digestive tea too, so much the better.
You will probably benefit either from taking it half an hour before meals, or just Afterwards.
You may need to experiment with several products to find some which suit you. Don’t forget to keep a diary of how your symptoms vary while you are trying out a treatment course; otherwise, you don’t know what is working for you.
Quick help for the digestion
To calm the digestion temporarily – for indigestion, for example, many people find chamomile tea, peppermint tea or ginger tea helpful. The first two you can find in a supermarket or health food shop. Ginger tea you can make yourself:
Gently simmer a few slices of fresh ginger in a saucepan with a mugful of water for a few minutes, and sip. As well as the digestion, ginger has a particular affinity for the abdomen. It will often soothe discomfort, griping or tension in this area.
You may also find various spicy teas for use after meals at your health food shop. Any of these will be well worth using to help the digestion. They will contain some of the ‘carminative’ herbs mentioned above, such as cardamom, cumin, and aniseed. Try some of these teas, and use the ones which suit you best.
Take your time
Don’t forget – you’ll need to work consistently on your digestion for 3-4 months if you want to try and get it working well. Or continue for up to 6 months if you find you need to. You won’t get long-lasting results after just a couple of weeks.
After this, repeat the programme for 1-2 months each year.
Be patient – be persistent. It will be worth it.
If you have a health concern, I recommend that you consult your doctor for a diagnosis. I also recommend that you see a properly trained professional in complementary medicine. Insist that they tell you what they judge is happening. Get as much information as possible. They may be wrong, of course! Which is one reason I suggest *you* take responsibility for decisions made about your health, rather than leaving it completely up to a doctor. If this makes you uncomfortable – then you may be better leaving it up to the doctor 😉 But think about it yourself, too.
NB Don’t play around with your health
If you have a recognised illness, and especially if prescription pharmaceuticals, you definitely need assistance and advice from someone used to dealing with these situations. Seek the advice of a sympathetic doctor, and find an experienced naturopath to assist you to get well. Listen to the guidance and help offered, then make up your own mind what to do. Don’t be pushed into any decision you don’t really want to take. It’s the only way to learn about your health.
A few people experience ‘cleansing reactions’ as the body ‘throws off toxins’, when carrying out natural healthcare methods. Examples of these reactions include loose bowels, headaches and temporary tiredness. The general advice for such reactions is to ease off on the treatment until they calm down, then resume at a more gentle pace. If you are in good general health, you should cope easily with such reactions. Some people even feel good at this time – a sign that the body is happy to be getting rid of a burden.
However, it is always most helpful to have professionals on hand who you can turn to for support and advice when using natural healthcare methods. And, as mentioned above, if you have a recognised illness, it is essential for your safety and good health to have professionals – both in the alternative and regular medical fields – to whom you can turn for help.