CAN DIGESTION HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOUR HORMONE HEALTH AND VICE VERSA?!
During perimenopause and menopause, you could be feeling like you are having more digestion problems than before.
This is because your hormones are fluctuating and going on a rollercoaster ride, up and down.
Your stomach acid levels can be reduced because of the rollercoaster of hormones. It can also affect how fast the food that you eat travels through your digestive system causing some bloating or constipation.
HOW DOES THE DIGESTION WORK?
Digestion starts in your mouth with the digestion of carbohydrates.
Make sure that you are chewing your food really well before you swallow it, your stomach will thank you for it.
Now you have chewed your food and it has entered your stomach, what happens now?
The next part of digestion is when your stomach starts to pass the broken down food particles through to your small intestines to finish digestion and so your body can absorb the nutrients from the food. The small intestine has 3 parts to it, the duodenum, ileum and jejunum.
The pancreas plays a big role with digestion by secreting enzymes and the production of bile to finish digestion of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Your body can then absorb all the nutrients from your food.
The bacteria that live within your digestive tract are very beneficial in aiding in digestion and absorption of the food you eat too. They are lactobacilus and Bifidobacterium.
Food is absorbed through the lining of the small intestine through the finger like tentacles of your micro villi, with the help of your bacteria.
The last part of the digestion process is the large intestine. It is 1.5m long and it takes around 12 to 24 hours for elimination of waste via the rectum after you have eaten.
The colon absorbs water and minerals from indigestible fibre.
Bacteria in the large intestine feed on non digestible food by the human digestive tract and convert the food into poop ready for elimination.
Are you pooping at least once a day. Ideally it is best to go 2 or 3 times a day. The quicker you can get waste out of your body, the less toxins will be re-absorbed back into your body.
HOW TO CREATE A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
This may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, but more research shows that your digestive system can play a bigger role in many diseases than you might think.
Some problems that can arise in your digestive tract are – heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, IBS, IBD etc. These could lead to allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.
Your gut is the portal to the outside world and your digestive system can take in disease causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. You also take in nutrients and toxins through your gut. The nutrients that are ingested and absorbed are the building blocks of every single part of your body.
There is still so much to learn about the connections between your digestive tract and other areas of your body, like your brain known as the gut brain axis.
Your digestive tract houses tons of friendly microbes too. These have lots of roles to play in your digestive system health.
WHAT ROLES DO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM MICROBES PLAY IN YOUR OVERALL HEALTH?
Your digestive tract is your barrier, it lets things in your body that you want to get in, which are nutrients, and keeps things out that should be kept out such as waste to be eliminated.
This should be simple right, but it can be really complex and this system can start to break down.
Your digestive tract lining can leak and allows things to get into your bloodstream and your body that can wreak havoc in your body. Things such as bacteria, undigested food, and toxins.
Anything you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your digestive system and get into your bloodstream, even if it is not supposed to. When your gut wall gets irritated, this is when it can leak. When this happens, you get inflammation, and this can be the start of many diseases that don’t seem linked to the digestive system but have an unfortunate connection there.
Did you know that about 70% of your immune system lives in and around your digestive system?
A healthy digestive system maintains its barrier and the food you eat, passes through, is absorbed, and the waste is eliminated.
The second important part of your digestive system, is the billions of friendly health promoting microbes. Gut microbes help you digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease causing microbes, make certain vitamins, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.
HOW TO IMPROVE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM HEALTH?
It’s always best to eliminate the cause rather than just treat the symptom.
Stop feeding your digestive system junk to deal with. That means eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol. Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body and digestive system feels.
You may also want to eliminate other digestion irritants such as dairy and grains. These can contain compounds that can irritate some people’s digestive system. Try to eliminate them for a full month to see if it makes a difference to your health.
Eat nutrient dense foods to maximise the chance of them being absorbed. These nutrients can help your body to build and repair your digestive system, and every other part of your body. Some nutrient dense foods to include are dark leafy greens and fruits and vegetables that contain fibre.
If you are not eating enough fibre every day, this can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Fibre feeds your good bacteria in the digestive tract, to help you to digest and absorb your food.
TIPS TO HELP WITH DIGESTION
Are you paying attention to how you are eating?
Make sure that you are chewing your food really well and not gulping it down as fast as you can.
Try not to get too hungry because this can lead to eating food too fast and you will end up gulping it down. You are then not focusing on chewing your food properly.
This will really help your body to digest food properly and result in less stomach discomfort.
Before you start eating, take a few deep breaths so you are fully relaxed and aware of what you are eating. This will help start the digestion process and the food you eat will pass through the digestion much better.
Eat until you are satisfied and start to feel full. It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to tell you that it is full!
Even if you have not finished the food on your plate, do not overeat because this can cause a lot of stress on your digestion. Save the food for later. Next time, you can give yourself a smaller portion when you know how much you can eat to feel satisfied.
Nurture your gut bacteria and feed it what it loves to eat and that is fibre. It feeds on the fibre from your food and this produces certain acids to help keep your digestive tract healthy and thriving.
A good probiotic daily can help in keeping your good bacteria growing. Fermented foods are another good source of good bacteria. Eating fibre from fruits, vegetables and salads will greatly benefit your gut garden and keep it blooming with less weeds to cause disruption.
Make sure you have enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) to start the digestion process in your stomach.
Your stomach contains stomach acid called hydrochloric acid (HCL). The stomach is meant to be acidic so it can kill off any bacteria from the food you have eaten and start to break apart the protein you have eaten by the enzyme called pepsin. Carbohydrates are further broken down in the stomach but no fat is digested in the stomach. Your stomach also produces intrinsic factor to help produce and absorb Vitamin B12 from what you eat.
What can go wrong in the stomach is that you do not have enough stomach acid to break down food properly. The food is not broken down well and you won’t be getting all the nutrition from those foods either. These food particles are passed through the digestive system and fermented by your gut flora to cause gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea. It can also contribute to food sensitivities.
The food particles that are fermented can create a bacterial overgrowth that can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and the overgrowth of candida.
Symptoms of low stomach acid are – acid reflux or upper abdominal discomfort including the symptoms I mentioned above.
You can increase your levels of stomach acid by making a few changes to your diet and by taking a few herbs and supplements to help raise up levels.
I would recommend that you stop eating meat for a while until your stomach acid levels are improved. This will help your digestion because meat is hard to break down.
I have written a book about acid reflux which gives lots of advice on how to raise up stomach acid levels. You can download it here – http://bit.ly/2MpWGe7
WHAT CAN HELP THE DIGESTION PROCESS ALONG AND STRENGTHEN THE DIGESTIVE TRACT?
Lemon or lime juice put onto your food can help with easier digestion.
Apple cider vinegar. You can drink this before you eat to help with production of stomach acid. Take 1 tsp before you eat or dilute it in a bit of water if you don’t like the taste.
Grating ginger root onto your food.
You can make a ginger pickle with the juice of a lemon and adding a large chunk of chopped up ginger. Chew on this pickle before eating for a few minutes and then spit it out.
Eat a small salad before a cooked meal or an apple as the enzymes in the raw food can kick start the digestion process.
Peppermint or spearmint drank after a meal. I like Clipper after dinner tea.