I consider the gastro-intestinal tract to be one of our most important organs. We could definitely not live without it, as it is here that digestion and assimilation of nutrients takes place. Therefore, to maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal tract is essential for proper digestion. Here are some general advice, that I consider sound:
- Drink plenty of clean water throughout the day. The gastrointestinal tract is important in balancing hydration of the body, and excretion of waste particles. Consuming enough water will enable the gut to function optimally.
- Start the day by drinking a lukewarm (tepid…under 42 degrees) glass of water, with juice from ½ a lemon. Alternatively you could use cold pressed apple cider vinegar in stead. This practice will hydrate the body (which is particularly useful after a good nights sleep) and get help prepare the gastrointestinal system for the day,
- Cut back on coffee. Coffee contain caffeine, which overtly stimulates gastric emptying, and irritates the gut lining. Coffee works as a laxative, so people with obstipation might feel an improvement after consuming this. Even so, using coffee as a therapy for obstipation will just make issues worse over time. The key word here is moderation. Someone with very irritable intestines, with burning sensations, should probably evade drinking coffee alltoghether for a while. Mind you, caffeine is addictive, and cutting down on caffeine might lead to abstinence symptoms such as (forbigående) headache or fatigue. Some should also stay away from other caffeinated beverages for a while to alleviate symptoms.
- Bitter herbs, including milk thistle, dandelion, shisandra, burdock root are all herbs that are useful at helping the liver and gall bladder to function optimally. In my practice I often use tinctures of Bitterstern, as this will help cleanse the liver/gall bladder, and consequently allow for better digestion. Patients suffering from acid reflux may also benefit greatly upon taking this supplement.
- Ingest lots of healthy, fresh vegetables, either in its raw form or as freshly squeezed juices. This contains lots of phytonutrients, nourishment that will leave cells more energized. The fibers and enzymes in vegetables are also very beneficial.
- Stress down. This is particularly important for gastric acid secretion, and gut motility Calming down by deep breathing is a good way to increase the parasympathetic system, aka the relaxing part of the nervous system.
- Active charcoal will mop up some of the toxins being unleashed in the gut. Toxins may come from excretion of waste particles from the liver, ingested pollutants, gut flora toxins and more. Better to take a small amount of this, over a longer period of time, to have the most benefit.
- A good fiber mixed with water, taken on an empty stomach between meals is a good way to balance the motility in the intestines.
- There is also the issue of possible gut flora imbalance. For more information on this see my other post Our Little Helpers