Natural and Home Remedies for Digestion

Digestion is defined as the process of breaking down food through mechanical and enzymatic action.

Image of ginger tea and fresh ginger

Food is broken down in the alimentary canal so that it can be used by the body. Ideally, food moves through your system from ingestion to elimination within 12 to 24 hours.

A healthy digestive tract will help you to maintain good health. It is crucial in order to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POOR DIGESTION?

Any number of these could be present:

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Bloating
  • Body odor
  • Constipation
  • Energy is low
  • Excess gas
  • Food sensitivities and allergies
  • Halitosis
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Irritability
  • Lower back pain
  • Skin disorders
  • Stomach pain
  • Swallowing is difficult or painful
  • Watery stools
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Yeast overgrowth
  • Stools that sink (healthy ones should float)
  • Stools should be well formed, reasonably large, but pass comfortably

PREVALENCE

The NIDDK estimates that 60 to 70 million people are affected by a digestive disease (not just poor digestion).

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Treatment will vary depending on the manifestation of your particular symptoms and underlying conditions. If you have a mild case of indigestion from time to time, there are some home remedies you can try.

SELF TREATMENT

The substances and suggestions here are offered to you for further research.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and disorder. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent starting point.

For proper assimilation and digestion, everyone needs the ability to produce the saliva, bile and enzymes that are required to make food useful to our cells. We should be expelling only the useless remains. Since the majority of immune function is in the digestive tract, we must take our digestion seriously and the quality of our food has everything to do with good digestion.

FOODS THAT PROMOTE HEALING

  • Bone broth
  • A balance among protein, carbohydrates and fat
  • Adequate fiber
  • Fermented foods for probiotics
  • Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits for enzymes
  • Adequate Omega 3 fats
  • Grains, if you must have them, should be whole
  • Lean, quality protein

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol, especially if you have heartburn
  • Caffeine
  • Chili peppers if you have heartburn
  • Dairy if you are lactose-intolerant
  • Excess carbohydrates
  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Smoking
  • Soft drinks

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Cinnamon berry
  • Ginger
  • Lemon balm
  • Mango
  • Raspberry
  • Mint
  • Green
  • Chai tea
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Marshmallow
  • Mullein
  • Pu-erh
  • Turmeric root
  • Black cohosh
  • Dandelion
  • Burdock root
  • Yellowdock
  • Gentian root
  • Skullcap
  • Yarrow
  • Slippery elm
  • Licorice root
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon bark

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Coriander
  • Cayenne
  • Peppermint
  • Cardamom
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Clove
  • Black pepper

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in carrier oil like coconut, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or used as massage oil.

  • Ginger
  • Tarragon
  • Peppermint
  • Clove
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Caraway
  • Thyme plus caraway
  • Bitter orange
  • Lavender
  • Lemon

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Triphala (an Ayurvedic combination)
  • L-glutamine
  • Enzymes
  • Collagen powder
  • Quercetin
  • Fiber
  • Probiotics
  • Hydrochloric Acid
  • DGL (licorice root)

HYDRATION

Water is especially important for efficient movement of matter through the colon, and helps to keep your intestines flexible. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. It is absolutely necessary to keep your digestion functioning properly, by strengthening the abdominal muscles and to keep food moving through your digestive tract.   If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to keep mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Coconut oil, internally. You can cook safely with this oil up to 350F. If you are cooking at heats higher than 350F, almond oil has a smoking point at 430F and refined avocado oil at 520F. The smoke point generally refers to the temperature at which oil begins to break down to glycerol and free fatty acids, and probably, production of free radicals.
  • Some researchers believe diabetes, arthritis and gastric diseases such as Cohn’s disease are all autoimmune diseases caused by autoimmune reactions to a “leaky gut.”
  • Avoid wheat. Wheat has a protein called gliaden in it, which has been shown to affect gut permeability. It disrupts the junctions between the cells lining the intestinal wall. This allows dietary proteins to leak into to the blood stream which causes a response from the immune system.
  • If your digestion is too slow, take more fiber and drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

There are many different disease conditions of the digestive system.  It is advisable to seek help for any condition that is not mild and transitory.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep

NOTES

A new field of digestive research has opened up recently with the discovery that something in our body that was heretofore believed to be a series of small structures is actually an entire organ.  It’s called the mesentery and is a double fold of peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) that attaches our intestine to the wall of our abdomen, keeping everything everything in place.  While that seems important enough, scientists are still uncertain of the full function and purpose of this previously unknown organ.  It may be that this new area of study will give new insight into digestive disorders and of course, digestive health.

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