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Digestive Health Supplements

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Digestive Health is still one of the most crucial determinants of general health. Unfortunately, it is still an area of the body that is commonly forgotten, yet, when dysfunctional, can negatively influence any area of the human body.

 

 

Digestive disturbances are commonly experienced by most people, with signs and symptoms that can include gas, bloating, indigestion, reflux and heartburn. The stomach is an important part of the digestive system, though it is not actually the first part of the digestive system- more on this soon. Firstly, the stomach has to produce an acidic substance, with a pH of 2, called hydrochloric acid (HCL). This acid is a very important substance, and functions as an anti-bacterial agent, knocking out harmful bacteria in the food we eat, and also performs the role of unfolding or denaturing protein, in preparation for enzymatic breakdown (hydrolysis). Without adequate HCL production, the stomach's defenses are down and digestion suffers. Especially protein digestion. This is just one area of the many complexities of the gastrointestinal tract.

 

 

The first part, and perhaps the most underrated area of digestion, is the mouth! That's right. Remember when your parents told you to chew your food properly at the dinner table. Well, as it turns out, they were actually just trying to look after us, even though at the time it might have been irritating, to put it mildly. You see, chewing (technically called mastication) breaks down large food chunks so that there is more surface area exposed to enzymes, making digestion easier. In addition, we actually release amylase and lipase enzymes in saliva, which literally begin digestion in the mouth. These enzymes start digesting carbohydrates and fats, respectively. The old saying goes, the longer your chew, the sweeter the food tastes. This may be because large carbohydrates get broken down into smaller units, some of which break all the way down into sugars. After all, carbohydrate or starches are composed of long chains of sugar. If we do not chew our food properly we are putting strain on the rest of our digestive system.

 

 

Digestion is how we absorb the nutrients contained within our food. The digestive system begins at the mouth and travels all the way to the end of the colon. There are many organs and tissues involved, including the salivary glands, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and intestines. There are countless ways to support the digestive system, including taking digestive enzymes like amylase, protease and lipase, to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats, respectively. There are healing agents to protect and support the mucous membranes, some of which are slippery elm powder, aloe vera and glutamine. There are even natural anti-bacterial agents and powerful probiotics (beneficial flora) that can be useful for pathogenic bacteria overgrowth, the latter of which is useful after pharmaceutical antibiotic therapy. Hippocrates stated over two-thousand years ago that "All Disease Begins in the Gut". The importance of food digestion and nutrient absorption can not be overemphasised, and can be the difference between vitality and apathy. 

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