If you are having digestive issues it could be due to any number of reasons, including the 5 explored below.
When we eat too much food at one meal sitting this can be quite taxing on the body. The body uses energy to digest foods and when we overeat the body uses even more energy. Sometimes other organs are deprived of the energy during this period, which is why we sometimes feel sleepy, lethargic and dizzy after a very large meal.
Listen to your body, it tells you when you are full. When you feel full or feel almost near to that point, stop eating, wait about an hour or two to resume eating again.
2. Improper chewing
Chewing is an important part of the digestive process. Digestion literally starts in the mouth. We chew the food to break it down into very small pieces so that it is easier to swallow and digest. When we chew our foods, it is mixed with the saliva in our mouths which helps to form a food bolus, which makes it easier for us to swallow the food. Our saliva is made up of 98% water and the other 2% include enzymes, electrolytes, antibacterial and other compounds. Starch based foods, for example, starts to breakdown in the mouth. The saliva contains an enzyme called amylase which helps to breakdown starches into dextrin and maltose before we swallow. We should chew our food until it is as liquid as possible to properly aid digestion.
Sometimes we are in situations where we are rushing about in a day and actually have very little time to eat. In situations such as these, do not try to consume protein and starches – eat foods that are easier to digest, such as a fruit. Maybe take some fruit juices, smoothie or fruits with you to have on the go. High water-content fruits in particular, you will find, are easier on the digestive system.
3. Food intolerances
Food intolerances involves the body’s inability to digest certain foods. Food intolerances could be caused from the lack of the enzyme needed to digest the food, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), stress, food poisoning and certain chemicals that have been added to foods, for example.
When people are intolerant to particular foods, eating them could result in diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and discomfort. It’s important to be in-tune with our bodies so we can easily identify when we do not feel ‘right’. If you feel lousy after eating and experience symptoms, including, but not limited to those listed above, take note. Get a food diary, note what you are eating each day and how you feel afterwards – maybe for the first half hour, two hours or even the following day. Once you have narrowed down the list of foods that could possibly causing your symptoms, remove them from your diet and see how you feel. If you feel the same way, maybe something else is causing your symptoms or you’re still eating the offending food(s). Try again, but make sure it is not any of the other possible issues mentioned in this article.
4. Poor quality foods
Poor quality foods include mostly junk and processed foods. If your diet consists of mainly these foods then this could be the cause of your indigestion. The further away a food is from its natural state, the harder it is for the body to breakdown and digest the food. In addition, many of these foods contain inorganic or synthetic flavours and additives used to excite the taste bud, to keep you addicted so you keep going back for more. Not only are these foods likely to be the cause of your indigestion, but especially processed meats are known carcinogens. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed sausages, hot dogs, ham and salami as class 1 carcinogens – meaning they are highly likely to cause cancer.
If you are consuming there foods, you could improve your digestion by including more fresh fruits, herbs, tender leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds in the diet. Drink more fresh home made juices and smoothies. Also, it is better to cook your food from scratch, that way you know what is going into it and it is also a way of excluding some of the excitotoxins found in processed foods.
5. Food combinations
Food combination is not given the priority it deserves. What you eat, when you eat it and in what combination can seriously affect your digestion. If you have not eaten for a long period of time, it is better to break that period of fast with a fruit, especially a high water content fruit, such as coconut, melon or grapes.
Sweet fruits (eg. banana, fig) should be eaten with sub-acid fruits (eg. pear, mango); sub-acid fruits should be eaten with acid fruits (lemon, orange); acid fruits with oils and fats (avocado, oil); protein with greens and non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, cucumber); starches (potatoes, rice) with non-starchy vegetables and fats and oils.
It is a common feature of most of our diets to consume starches with proteins. This is not advisable as the body’s approach to digesting each is practically opposite in nature. When we eat starches, the stomach secretes an enzyme called ptyalin in order to help to digest the starches, this creates an alkaline environment in order for the digestion to take place. However, when proteins are consumed, animal protein in particular, the body produces a highly acidic environment in order to break down this protein by secreting hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin. The alkaline and acidity will neutralise each other and thus hamper the digestion process.
If the body is unable to digest the foods, then it will not be able to assimilate and extract the nutrients it need from these foods. This of course negatively affects body functions since the nutrients received from foods also help the body to regulate itself and achieve optimal health.
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