Do you experience bloating, constipation, or loose stools on a regular basis?
Are you not adequately absorbing the vitamins and minerals from your food and/or supplements?
Believe it or not, our digestion and bowel movements can tell us a lot about our overall health. It is often a topic that many people choose to avoid, although it is necessary that we as a society become more comfortable with discussing.
For example, if your digestion is not optimal and you are taking prescribed oral medications and supplements, you may not be absorbing those things. Talk about a waste of money, right?
Let’s begin by taking a crash course into digestion physiology:
The digestive process begins in the mouth. Smelling a food—even thinking about a food—starts producing saliva and digestive enzymes in the mouth to break down starches. The process of chewing food, or mastication, mechanically breaks the food into smaller pieces, which allows it to be digested chemically by enzymes. The stomach starts producing stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), preparing for the arrival of food in the stomach, to help digest proteins and again to break the food into smaller pieces. From there, the food bolus moves from the stomach to the small intestine, where the more enzymes are produced and the majority of nutrient absorption takes place.
Fact: The small intestine is actually around 20 feet in length! Wow. And actually, absorption issues in the small intestine are quite common these days. But why?
Ever heard of “anxious stomach”? Well, technically it’s “anxious intestines” and it’s actually a thing.
Unfortunately, stress and anxiousness can significantly affect our digestive process. It comes down to the concept of rest and digest.
Digestion is a parasympathetic nervous system response—we must be in a relatively calm and relaxed state to produce saliva, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes needed to break down and digest food, and even nutritional supplements, optimally. When we are in fight or flight, or sympathetic nervous system mode, digestion is compromised and nutrient absorption suffers.
So how can you improve your digestion?
There are a number of ways to balance the nervous system and improve digestion. Mind body techniques and cognitive psychology deal with reframing stress to modulate the nervous system response so the body is less stimulated or reactive toward stressful stimuli.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes is another option for ensuring complete break-down of food and digestion. Ask us which type of digestive enzymes would be right for you, depending on your current health concerns.
If your goal is to optimize digestive health, call us today at (941) 749-0741 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Inda Mowett at The Aesthetic & Wellness Center—your trusted health and wellness resource!
Dr. Inda Mowett is certified in Bariatric Medicine (non-surgical medical weight loss). She is one of 400 physicians nationwide specialized in this field.