For both adults and children a healthy, balanced diet is only part of the story. Food needs to be digested successfully to allow nutrients to be absorbed.
What is digestion?
- Before we even eat anything, we see and smell food whilst it’s being prepared; this signals to the body that food is on its way and we begin to secrete saliva.
- We start breaking down food in the mouth, mechanically by chewing and beginning the chemical breakdown of some food by mixing it with saliva.
- Once food hits our tummies, stomach acid and enzymes continue to break the food down into small molecules in preparation for absorption for use around the body so that they can go and complete their job to provide you energy, build your muscles, feed your brain, and make your happy hormones.
- At this point, the acidity of the stomach acid protects us against any pathogens that should not be there.
- Food then enters the small intestine where it continues to be broken down by enzymes and is then absorbed.
- Further absorption occurs in the large intestine and then the body begins to package up what is no longer needed (we should poop at least once per day, preferably twice!)
What happens when we don’t go through this process?
Impaired digestion is at the root of many chronic diseases; unless we are getting the nutrients we need, things in our bodies can start to go wrong.
If we don’t chew our food, undigested food will potentially slow down digestion and come out in the stool. This is a double whammy as not only have you not extracted the nutrients from the food, you are also either becoming constipated, or in some cases your body decides to get rid of undigested food quickly causing diarrhoea.
What are some of the signs that this process may be not working as it should?
- Unexplained fatigue
- Feel extraordinarily full after meals
- Bloating (“baby belly”)
- Belching or flatulence
- Constipation (less than once per day) *
- Stomach cramping*
- Undigested food in stools and floating stools
- Poor quality hair and nails
*you should always consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
What can you do about this?
- Take time to relax and prepare food
- Eat slowly and without distractions – avoid eating in a hurry or when stressed.
- Avoid drinking too much fluid whilst eating as this may dilute the stomach acid and enzymes needed to chemically breakdown your food.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
If you would like to know more about digestive health, or have any concerns or queries, please visit www.gutwise.co.uk