We all know them, but nobody likes to talk about them – digestive problems. Yet they can be very restrictive to everyday life and sometimes quite painful. In most cases, they are functional complaints, i.e. no organic cause can be found. However, if warning symptoms such as blood in the stool, frequent alternation of constipation and diarrhea, and weight loss occur, it is advisable in any case to consult a doctor!
How does digestion actually occur?
Strictly speaking, digestion begins when food is eaten in the mouth. The enzyme amylase in saliva is already used to break down carbohydrates. That is why it is so important to chew well! After that, the food passes through the pharynx and the esophagus into the stomach. This is where the breakdown of the food by enzymes really begins. From there it continues, in portioned bites, into the small intestine. Here, the absorption of nutrients from the food begins. This also requires bile and pancreatic secretions. In addition, fluid is extracted, which moves into the bloodstream. In the colon, the food pulp is then further thickened and the unusable remainder is finally excreted.
As a rule, these intermediate steps take place unnoticed. However, if we have eaten something that is difficult for us to digest, something that has been prepared incorrectly or if we have not chewed well, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation can occur. But what can we do for good digestion?
Top tips for good digestion
- Take time to eat. While this is often not easy to do in everyday life, it should always be a top priority! And when you eat, focus on the food and chew well (see above). This will help you notice when you are full.
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet and avoid junk food that contains too many trans fats, flavor enhancers and sugar. Regularly eat raw vegetables, healthy fats, properly prepared cereals, and if possible always organic – then not so much can go wrong.
- Don’t walk while eating, but sit or stand. After all, when we are on the move, our bodies are not designed for digestion!
- Eat 3 decent meals and try to take about a 4 hour break between meals. This will make digestion easier.
- Move around (outside of meals, that is) ! Our bodies are not designed to sit or lie down for long periods of time. Through gentle movement in the endurance area, our digestive tract gets going, the intestinal peristalsis is stimulated, the food is processed faster. In addition, you prevent, among other things, the development of hemorrhoids. You can find out how to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine here. A bowel massage can also be beneficial! You can find out exactly how to do this here.
- Think about what your grandma used to cook for you. The food that our body knows and that we grew up with, it will in doubt digest better than something we have never eaten.
- Try new things in small amounts first! Just because your best friend eats 1kg of sauerkraut a day and raves about her great digestion. Just because she tolerates it well, doesn’t mean the same has to be true for you. The field of nutrigenetics deals precisely with these influences of genes on the digestibility of food. For example, coffee and salt can cause increased blood pressure in one person, but not affect another person at all.
- In general, you don’t need to consume much of probiotic, lactic acid foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kvass or sour milk to reap the benefits for intestinal health! In general, it is recommended to always take probiotics at the same time while taking antibiotics or in case of other diarrhea, e.g. in the form of omni-biotic powder*.
- Drink about 1.5l of water, unsweetened tea or home-made broth per day.
- Take time for your digestion! Schedule your time in the morning so that you can go to the bathroom at your leisure.
- Bitters promote the production of saliva, pancreatic secretions and bile, as well as intestinal transit. They are naturally found in chicory or radicchio lettuce, for example. In addition, I also find this bitter powder * recommendable.
If you suffer from acute digestive problems, the following tips (in addition to those mentioned above) might help:
- Increase the fiber content of your diet. 2-3EL of ground flaxseed or psyllium, swollen in a little water and drunk in small sips in the morning, can provide relief. The same applies to prunes. Here, too, it is advisable to soak them and drink the soaking water with them!
- Hot water with a little rock candy can also stimulate intestinal motility.
- A strong espresso can also be helpful.
- Moro’s carrot soup: for this, simply simmer carrots in water until done, add a little salt and puree.
- Black tea: so that it can develop its effect (tannins), it is best to steep for 15 minutes. Fennel, chamomile or peppermint tea also have a beneficial effect. It goes well with rusks!
- Grated apple, mashed banana and mashed potatoes (without milk and butter) are also very digestible.
If all the above tips fail, consider going to the doctor or pharmacy. Do you have any other tips that help you well with digestive problems? Feel free to write it in the comments!
I wish you a good rest of the week,