Why Digestion Plays An Essential Role In Our Health
Why Digestion Plays An Essential Role In Our Health
We all know that feeling of being stuffed after a big meal. Or the discomfort of indigestion and heartburn. But digestion is much more than enjoying a meal or occasional discomfort. In fact, it plays a vital role in our overall health.
The digestive process begins when we see and smell food. The brain signals glands to start releasing digestive enzymes. In the mouth, saliva starts breaking down food. It then moves into the stomach, where acids and enzymes help to break down the food further or cleave proteins into amino acids. From there, food enters the small intestine, where most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream after digestion. The remainder moves into the large intestine, where water is absorbed, and waste is eliminated.
Digestion helps to provide our bodies with the nutrients we need for energy, growth, and repair. The nutrients fuel all the organs of our body. It also helps to get rid of toxins and other harmful substances. That’s why it’s so important to keep your digestive system healthy. Suppose your digestive system is compromised, and you suffer from gas, bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, or constipation. You must look into the root causes and resolve them. Eating a balanced diet consisting of all the macro and micronutrients, fiber, drinking plenty of water, and regular exercise can help promote optimal digestion. Here are five reasons digestion plays an essential role in our health:
1. Crucial For Our Survival:
When we think of digestion, we usually think of our stomachs growling when we’re hungry or feeling relief after we’ve finally had a good bathroom break. However, digestion is a very complex process that starts when we take our first bite or even see food. According to this interesting article, the nutrient digestion and absorption process are crucial for living beings to survive, evolving into a complex task for the GI (gastrointestinal) system. Ultimately, this process is responsible for breaking down the food and absorption, transportation and delivery into the cells to be converted into energy and various other molecules. Roughly 20 to 30 percent of our daily calories are used to digest, transport nutrients, and make energy. So, the next time you feel run down or tired, remember that your digestive system is working hard to keep you going!
2. Excludes Toxins From Our Body:
Did you know that the gastrointestinal tract is one of our body’s ways of detoxing? That’s right, every time we eliminate waste through our feces, we are actually helping to get rid of toxins and other harmful substances from our bodies. This process is essential for good immune health, helping to prevent diseases. So, next time you take a trip to the bathroom, remember that you are actually helping to keep yourself healthy and free from disease! Remember, constipation will often result in dysfunctions in your body.
3. Strengthens Our Immune System:
Just as a city has a police department to protect residents from foreign invaders or antisocials, our bodies have a system to protect us from harmful microorganisms. This system is called the immune system. Its job is to keep us healthy by identifying and destroying dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. The digestive system plays a vital role in supporting the immune system. Surprisingly a significant percentage of the innate immune system is housed in our digestive tract. When we eat, the gut immune cells also come into contact with all sorts of bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Our immune system, on 24 hours surveillance, works to protect us from these invaders. The gastrointestinal tract plays an essential role in supporting this process. It provides a barrier between the outside world and our internal organs. Our large intestines house more symbiotic microorganisms than our own body cells. These friendly bacteria feed on fiber from our diet and, in return, train our immune cells and keep in touch with our adaptive immune cells via signaling molecules. The symbiotic bacteria also keep the pathogenic bacteria population of the gut in check and maintain our gut lining’s integrity. Like outsourced workers, they also produce vitamins and neutralize toxins. As a result, the digestive system plays an essential role in supporting our immune system. Therefore, the consumption of a high-fiber diet and/or natural enzyme extract supplements don’t only promote effective digestion in our body but also helps strengthen our immune system.
4. Promotes Regularity in Our Body:
Digestion is key to maintaining regularity and preventing constipation. When all is working correctly, digestion aids in moving matter through our intestines smoothly. However, various factors – such as certain medications, a lack of soluble and insoluble fiber in our diet, or even stress and inactivity can contribute to digestive issues. As a result, we may experience bloating, gas, abdominal pain, or constipation. While over-the-counter remedies can provide some relief when going through such health concerns, it is always best to speak with a Lifestyle Medicine healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions. In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re backed up – it could be the best decision you make that day.
5. Strengthens Our Mental Health:
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” and what we digest directly impacts our mental state. In fact, research suggests that there is a strong connection between gut health and mental health. This is because of the gut-brain axis, a communication pathway between the gut and the brain. When the gut is healthy, it houses abundant good bacteria that help to promote a healthy mind. However, when the gut is unhealthy, pathogenic bacteria can take over and lead to inflammation and mental health problems. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a healthy gut to promote a healthy mind. There are various ways to do this, such as eating probiotic-rich foods or taking probiotic supplements. Exercise and stress management are also crucial for maintaining a healthy gut-brain axis.
Digestion is one of our body’s most essential and underrated functions our body is performing. Without it, we would be unable to absorb the nutrients from our food, leading to deficiencies that cause health problems. By understanding how digestion works and taking steps to improve our digestive health, we can boost our overall well-being and be safeguarded from diseases like autoimmunity and cancer. Have you been neglecting your digestion? Are you suffering from symptoms of gas, bloating, acidity, constipation, allergies? The underlying reasons could be many; poor nutrition, food sensitivities, hypochloridria, enzyme deficiencies, SIBO, hyperactive gut immunity or intestinal permeability. It is important you consult a Lifestyle Functional Medicine practitioner to get at the root cause. Start making small changes today to see significant results in your overall health!