Guess what? You are not alone! Did you know that according to the CDC, 51 million Americans seek medical help (from doctor visits to the ER) for digestive issues each year? And those are just the people who actually get help. Many people simple suffer through those occasional digestive issues rather than seeking medical attention.
What Digestive Issues Mean
These digestive issues are flags that your digestive system is not always working as well as it could. Possibilities include:
Need for digestive enzymes
Without enzymes, your body cannot convert the food you eat into usable fats, starches, and proteins. As you age, the number of enzymes your body produces decreases, increasing the need for supplemental enzymes. Lack of enzymes is the reason you might feel tired after eating a particularly large meal: your body doesn't have enough enzymes to digest the meal, and consequently spends a lot of energy on digestion!
Imbalance of bacteria in intestines
Stress, antibiotics, alcohol, tobacco, and drinking chlorinated water are all lifestyle factors that can cause an imbalance of the bacteria that live in your gut. When the non-beneficial bacteria, such as Candida, overtake the gut, the result can range from heartburn and gas to nasal congestion and heart palpitations.
Lack of probiotics in the gut
Imbalances of bacteria in the gut can also mean a lack of probiotics (or beneficial bacteria) in the gut. Such probiotics include acidophilus, bifidus, and numerous other friendly bacteria. Luckily, if you have a lifestyle that causes an imbalance in your gut between probiotics and non-beneficial bacteria, you can rebalance your gut by adding probiotic supplements to your daily regimen.
Insufficient nutrients for the gut
Like all organs in the body, your gut needs nutrients, including nutrients that soothe and heal the gut, plus nutrients that feed the probiotics in your gut. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients can lead to many symptoms of poor digestion.
Got Digestive Issues? Natural Solutions That Can Help!
If occasional digestive issues are really starting to bother you, you can make dietary and lifestyle changes to support your digestive system. Natural solutions for digestive support include:
- Enzyme supplements
- Probitoic supplements
- Small simple lifestyle changes
In a perfect world, our food should include all the enzymes necessary for full digestion. Unfortunately, because of trends such as over-farming, genetic modification of foods, the use of chemicals in food production, and food packaging and cooking, most foods that arrive on the table lack enzymes.
In addition, as we age our bodies all produce fewer and fewer enzymes. Conversely, the lack of enzymes can also contribute to the aging process. According to Dr. Edward Howell, known for his enzyme research: "Diets deficient in enzymes cause a 30% reduction in life-span." Yowza!
Luckily, there are many enzymes for digestion that you can easily add to your daily diet. Simply take enzymes with meals to support your body's digestion, and take enzymes between meals to help "clean up" any undigested food in your gut!
Adding probiotic supplements to your daily regimen is another simple way to improve digestion. The probiotics that live in your small and large intestines are integral to healthy digestion. In addition, many of these beneficial bacteria, such as acidophilus and bifidus, play other important roles in our health. For instance, these bacteria are responsible for producing B vitamins, which contribute to health factors such as good mood, hair and nail growth, and energy production! We suggest taking probiotics before breakfast or right before bed. This schedule allows the probiotics to reach their intended destination without having to make it past any food in the stomach.
In addition to adding supplements to your diet, making small incremental changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference to your digestion. To keep it simple, we have borrowed a list of lifestyle changes from one of America's most notable doctors--Doctor Oz. According to him, these lifestyle changes can really support your digestive health (read more at http://bit.ly/11DSrkG)
- Stay hydrated (we suggest non-chlorinated water)
- Physical activity to speed digestion
- Limit fats
- Eat more fiber
- Maintain healthy weight
- Eat slowly
- Dietary supplements (like probiotics and enzymes)
- Decrease bloating ingredients like sodium and artificial sweeteners
Nobody likes dealing with gas, heartburn, constipation, or other digestive issues--even if they are occasional. Luckily, the natural solutions that support healthy digestion are pretty simple. So follow these steps and you will actually be able to enjoy your favorite foods with fewer digestive issues!
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