Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Preventing or Combatting Digestive Disturbances

A digestive disturbance is the inability to break down food in the stomach and intestines causing un-metabolised food retention, malnutrition and possible disease. Digestive disturbances can, in severe cases, be very restrictive of a person’s ability to carry out his or her daily work.

The causes of digestive disturbances are as follows: food allergies; food not properly broken down by chewing; a slowdown in the production and potency of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid in the stomach as people age; the pancreas is malfunctioning and not braking down fats, proteins and carbohydrates; the liver’s production of bile, which breaks down fats, is lessened; the muscular action of the stomach and intestines needed to transport food is weakened as a result of undernourishment; stress causing the overproduction of hormones which interfere with digestion; the eating of spicy type foods which require higher amounts of  enzymes to be broken down; the natural enzymes present in food is destroyed by overcooking;  processed foods laden with chemical additives and preservatives being more difficult to break down; fatty foods using a higher amount of hydrochloric acid from the stomach and thereby causing heartburn; disruption to the normal digestive process through eating sugar-laden foods requiring the body to respond with a high amount of insulin; and lack of sufficient amounts of fibre in the diet.   
Conventional medicine has responded to digestive disturbances with prescription drugs in the form of antacids and antispasmodics. These drugs can have some serious side effects such as brain cell deterioration, blurring of vision and difficulty urinating. Their use should therefore be avoided if at all possible.
It is best to prevent a digestive disturbance from occurring in the first instance by paying attention to the following:
·        Avoid any foods to which you are allergic.
·        Eat slowly and chew food well.
·        Avoid discussing stressful topics while eating.
      ·    Avoid spicy foods.
·        In so far as it is possible, avoid processed foods.
·        Avoid foods containing a lot of fat.
·        Avoid sugar- laden foods and drinks.
·        Do not drink liquids within 30 minutes of meal times.
·        Avoid poor food combining such as starchy foods and proteins at the same meal; and eat fruits separately from main meals
·        Drink water regularly between meals.   
In general, it is best to increase your dietary fibre intake, eat lots of fruits with their skins, and eat lots of fresh vegetables either raw or lightly cooked. Foods good for digestion are wholegrain cereals, wholegrain bread, apples, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, rhubarb, celery, cabbage, fennel, sorrel, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, chick peas, meat, black radish, horseradish, low-fat yogurt with live cultures, bananas, raspberries and gooseberries. Foods bad for digestion are processed meats, meats derived from game (deer, boar etc.) chocolate, biscuits  (cookies), lard, oysters and sugar-laden soft drinks (sodas).  
The following supplements can help with digestive problems: 1 or 2 digestive enzymes taken with each meal; peppermint oil to be taken as the directions on the label, vitamin B complex, 50 mg twice daily, to aid digestion and break down carbohydrates; psyllium husks as directed on the label to make up for any deficiency in dietary fibre.
The following herbs, for the reasons stated, can be employed to alleviate problems with digestion: parsley acts as a diuretic eliminating toxins from the body; wormwood helps maintain proper stomach acidity; chicory stimulates bile secretions; lemongrass helps to improve the digestive system; papaya has natural digestive enzymes; peppermint is a good stomach sedative; thyme is a general tonic with healing powers; and ginger alleviates nausea.
The reasons for digestive disturbances are so varied that you will need to give careful consideration to identifying the cause (or causes) of any one occurrence before pursuing a remedy in accordance with the guidelines outlined above.