Our digestion doesn’t start from our mouth. It starts from our nose, eyes and brain. It’s when we sense food, smell it and look at it.
Why is our digestive/gut health so important?
It is for multiple reasons and starts with the most obvious one. It’s important for digestion of food we eat and assimilation/absorption of nutrients from the food (as food cannot be directly digested. It is broken down into components ie. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbs/glucose, protein/amino acids and fats/lipids).
After absorption of important nutrients, the ‘waste’ has to be removed from our body in form of feces.
Apart from that, 80% of our immune system is located just behind our gut and almost 80% of serotonin (neurotransmitter which makes us feel good) is created in the gut. Hindrance in any of these processes can wreak havoc on our health and well being
Now that we have established, that gut health is very important for our health, we talk about improving gut health and it has multiple fronts. One would be flourishing our body with adequate micronutrients, macronutrients, antioxidants and fibre, pre-biotics (fruits and vegetables)
Then, we would have to ensure that all phases of digestion are taken care of.
No, our digestion doesn’t start from our mouth. It starts from our nose, eyes and brain. It’s when we sense food, smell it and look at it. So, eating environment matters a lot. We need to get ample time to this phase.
Next comes chewing. Very important to break down food mechanically, hydrolysation and even for digestion of carbohydrates and fats to a certain extent. Chewing enough (22+ times) can also ensure that our hunger is managed optimally. We should give atleast 10 minutes to each meal for optimal digestion.
Also, we need to remember that our digestion is optimal only when we are eating in a calm and stress free environment also called parasympathetic nervous system mode. So, taking 6 deep breaths before each meal, not eating while stressed would help with this front. Apart from this, ensuring that we avoid food sources which do not suit us. This is highly individual, so might take a little bit of trial and error as food elimination is the last thing we should do unless it’s messing up our health.
Moderation is the key, for most. Common red flags for ‘some people’ can be gluten, dairy, fodmaps, nightshades, nuts or simply highly processed food sources. Also, in final hour of our wakefulness, stomach hcl production goes down by 37%-47%, so it’s a good idea not to eat too close to bed time, unless necessary.
Avoiding a lot of caffeine around meal times is also a good idea. Ensuring that we have enough fibre in our diet (soluble and insoluble) and ensuring we are not deficient of Zinc, Magnesium, B12 can help us regulate the defacation of feces/stool.
Our gut is also home to the gut microbiome, diversity of which is linked with enourmous positive health benefits, ranging from cravings of food to even mood and mental health. Optimal gut health, variety of food esp. fruits and vegetables, enough sleep, avoiding intoxicants such as alcohol can be amazing for the gut microbiome. Optimal health is very important and improving it is very simple for most of us, so let's get started with a healthier and happier gut routine.
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