Friday Health CornerHealth

Maintaining a Healthy Digestive System

Remember how an adult can sometimes encourage a toddler to open their mouth by making airplane noises when the toddler is being fed? “Come on little Danny, open your mouth, the airplane is coming to land.” Then Danny giggles, opens his mouth and the adult quickly puts the spoon in his mouth. Well, that journey from the airport of the mouth to the terminal at the anus can take about 24-72 hours.

From the mouth, the food travels down the esophagus. The muscles here act as a giant wave and they move the food down to your stomach. Eating in small bites makes it easier to swallow. Once you swallow, the process is automatic. From here the food passes to your stomach where it mixes with digestive juices. Even though the stomach holds about litre of food, and has the ability to stretch and hold 2-4 litres of food, we should be conscious of the portions we take so we can maintain a healthy digestive system.

After about 6-8 hours it is emptied into your small intestine where it mixes with other digestive juices from the pancreas, liver, and intestine. Here water is absorbed along with other digested nutrients. Then the waste products from digestion move to the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs water and changes the waste from liquid to stool. Then it is moved to the rectum where it is stored until you push the stool out during a bowel movement.

The digestive system is responsible for the food we eat. It helps break down our food so our bodies can absorb the necessary nutrients to remain healthy, and expel waste.

Have you ever had one of those days where you are just grumpy and irritated and you almost can’t explain what makes you feel that way? Then you go to eat and all of a sudden, you are back to your usual self. Food can work wonders. What you eat and how your body functions impact your day.

Taking active steps to improve your digestive health can improve your overall well-being. Don’t just eat anything, but aim to have a healthy diet. We hear it all the time and sometimes we just want to fill up on fast food. Try to consciously improve your diet. Eat at the same time every day and skip bad habits. Trade snacks for fruits and nuts. Trade fatty foods for vegetables. Trade soda drinks for water. Staying hydrated will not only help your digestive system but will also help your skin too. Glow with H20! Your gut will thank you.

Digestion also impacts our mood. As much as possible, avoid stress and keep a positive mindset. Have you ever felt so nervous about a test, interview, or some news and then had the sudden urge to use the restroom? The stress of that situation had an impact on your whole body including your digestive system. Incorporate exercise in your daily routine, listen to music, remember to laugh, and keep your body moving.  This will help your metabolism and blood flow which will enhance digestion.

Digestive problems can happen to anyone. Don’t be afraid to see your doctor if you have persistent cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. These may not mean something serious but it is always advisable to get regular checkups to maintain a healthy body.

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