Just like every other system in the body, the digestive system can be compared to a very sophisticated machine. It forms the core of our existence as humans because it is the system that feeds the other part of the body with nutrients for energy, growth and sustenance.
The digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal system, is comprised of the mouth, the oesophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines and eventually terminates in the anus. It is responsible for ingestion (that is, taking in food through the mouth), digestion which involves the breakdown of the food into absorbable components and expulsion via the anal opening.
Any problems with the ability to feed easily cause distress to an individual and these problems could be related to appetite, pain and inflammation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract, vomiting or quite commonly, lack of food. Because of that, affected individuals are forced to seek help as fast as possible.
Also, problems affecting proper intake or insufficiency of the digestive system function have been linked to the development of several disease conditions like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, tuberculosis, viral infections, etc. This is because problems affecting digestive system function also affect the body’s immunity.
Throughout the ages, several methods have been adopted to enhance the function of the digestive system and to keep it functional. Today, we have several medications that can help stimulate appetite, enhance bowel movement and prevent clogging of the gastrointestinal tract. But asides from these appetite-stimulating medications, several natural means have been adopted and are still being used today. These natural ways of enhancing digestive system function are recommended for everyone and they include good physical activity, healthy eating, and the use of Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurveda For The Digestive System
Ayurvedic medicine is a natural system of medicine that employs herbs, roots, leaves and essential oils of both plants and animals in the management of medical conditions. The name, Ayurveda originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and is generally described as the world’s oldest healing system. Natural medicine persists in many parts of the world today and with the advancement of modern orthodox medicine, they are now referred to as alternative medicine or native medicine.
Ayurvedic medicine or natural medicine has evolved significantly too. For digestive system issues, Ayurvedic medicines are now available as Ayurvedic Digestive Tablets. These tablets help to maintain the core processes of digestion as well as improve absorption of nutrients and metabolism into required end-products. Unlike drugs used in modern medicine, otherwise known as allopathic medicines, most ayurvedic medicines help in supplementing or keeping up normal body functions and do not necessarily treat or alter the body system drastically.
Natural Ways To Enhance Your Digestive System
Ayurvedic medicines only evolved from the observations of individuals when they consume natural herbs and food. Natural food rich in fibres and essential minerals formed the mainstay of human nutrient requirements in early times but as we developed, we began to lose some of our healthy food habits. Predominant plant-based meals were being replaced by meat diets that lack fibres which have been shown to be some of the best enhancers of bowel activity. To further worsen it, processed foods were introduced.
It, therefore, becomes important that we become more sensitized about more natural ways to enhance our digestive system function, especially considering that allopathic drugs are not without major side effects.
Here are some natural ways you can enhance your digestive function.
Moderate exercise or avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle
Having a lifestyle that requires you to stay inactive for a long time can cause your digestive system to become inactive too. A sedentary lifestyle also makes you expend less energy, thus suppressing your appetite. This ultimately reduces your bowel activity and can impact your digestive system function.
Rigorous exercises are not particularly recommended when you are having digestive issues because when you engage in them, blood is redistributed from the gastrointestinal tract to the muscles and reduces the function of digestion. This is why you should adequately take good rest a few minutes after every meal; so you can benefit maximally from the food you consume.
Eating an adequate balanced diet is key to maintaining the health of not just the entire body, but of the digestive system as well. Whereas every nutrient benefits the whole body, fibres are of special interest to the health of the digestive system. This is because the health of the gastrointestinal tract is linked to its motility (how fast it moves food from one section to another). A slow inactive digestive system is what we refer to as constipation and it is grossly a factor of how much fibre is in the diet, or secondarily due to some other diseases of the body or of the tract itself.
Consuming food such as processed food that lacks fibres, sugar-laced foods, over-spiced food, or preserved foods can affect the digestive system. The lack of fibres can cause the tract to get clogged, further resulting in poor general health and malnutrition.
Adequate rest and sleep
The action of the digestive system is regulated by certain hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. These are components of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) – the sympathetic ANS and parasympathetic ANS. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for regulating activities of flight and freight, while the parasympathetic nervous system controls activities rest and digestion.
During rest, the parasympathetic neurotransmitters (acetylcholine specifically) are produced in high amounts in the body such that they have a concomitant effect on digestion as well as the overall body.
Good eating habit
The activity of our digestive system is strongest at midday. At this time, there is a high amount of secreted digestive juices and, thus, recommended as the best time to eat your heaviest meal. However, there is also the production of very high amounts of digestive juices during the period of the night such that you may need to eat in the morning to reduce the effect of the strong digestive juice (gastric juice) on the wall of the stomach. This can result in ulcers and other digestive problems.
Eating at regular periods of the day over time educates the body on when to expect food each day. Skipping meals is not particularly helpful, and eating every single minute of the day is also not helpful. However, evidence suggests that intermittent fasting may benefit your gut health and boost your gut microbiome (the normal microorganism in the gut).
Use of natural supplements
Natural supplements or ayurvedic medicines have proven to be very effective for digestive issues. Ayurvedic medicines are present as Ayurvedic Digestive Tablets which are taken orally to help correct digestive problems. Triphala herbs are examples of Ayurvedic medicines known to have a balancing and curative effects on the digestive health, treating a number of symptoms like constipation and inflammation.
Triphala is a mix of 3 potent herbs – Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki, which are processed into the form of digestive tablets and which help in improving the function of the digestive system. Triphala is also useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers, slow bowel movements (constipation), dysentery and irritable bowel syndrome. It helps in the effective absorption of nutrients, acts as a Rasayana (rejuvenating force) against other types of internal and external infections, as well as help enhance body metabolism.
Problems with the digestive system are fairly common and they can cause significant distress to the affected individual. As we evolved, our diet and medicine also evolved. There is the introduction of processed foods that lack fibres. This can impact the health of the digestive system negatively.
Natural herbs and herbal formulations were the mainstay of treatment some century back. For digestive system issues like constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, etc, these natural ways can suffice. They include moderate exercise, adequate nutrition, good eating habit as well at the use of Ayurvedic medications, many of which have also evolved into tablets as well.
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