There is hope. Below are a few key points on digestion, along with 7 vital steps to help you avoid or minimize indigestion.
What is digestion, really?
According to Dr. Wayne Pickering, digestion is the first process in nutrition. There are two types of digestion: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical digestion is the chewing and churning that takes place. Chemical digestion consists of the chemical based processes with saliva, enzymes, others natural occurring chemicals that the body produces to aid the breakdown of food.
Digestion begins as soon as food enters your mouth. In short, you put food into your mouth, chew it, swallow it, and then your body breaks these molecules down into a size it can absorb. But it does not end there. Beyond the mouth, food continues to be broken down in several additional areas including the stomach and the first and middle sections of the small intestine, called the duodenum and the jejunum respectively. Small intestines then absorb the majority of nutrients from food. Finally what’s left moves to the large intestines where what is not used is earmarked as waste and (eventually) passes out of the body.
What is Indigestion?
When the digestive process does not go smoothly, the result is called indigestion. Indigestion is pain or discomfort in the stomach area associated with difficulty digesting food and can be categorized as heartburn, dyspepsia, hyperacidity, etc. Symptoms often include bloating, belching, gas or flatulence. As occurrences of indigestion are on the rise, pharmaceutical companies introduce more and more indigestion drugs, both over the counter and prescription strength, to address the problem. However, taking synthetic drugs perpetually will not solve the problem. There are simple steps you can take to minimize the risk of indigestion.
7 Steps to Improve Digestion
- Chew Thoroughly – aim for at least 20 to 30 chews before swallowing
- Don’t Stuff Your Mouth – fill eating utensils ½ - ¾ of what fits in mouth
- Drink Before/After Eating – liquids dilute digestive acids and enzymes
- Proper Food Combining – food will energize you, not make you sleepy
- Don’t Eat When Stressed – stress hormones can disrupt digestion
- Move After Meals – time for a short walk or chores that involve standing
- Digestive Enzymes – natural food-grade supplements that help break down food into different nutrients can be beneficial