If you want to dive right into digestive tract health essentials, please scroll down. Or, join us as we define some basic digestive tract health lingo.
Digestive system: All of our awesome organs that get food from point a to b(utt) while turning that food into the energy that keeps our bodies’ healthy. The system includes: salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder (if ya still got it), pancreas, small intestine, colon, and the tush.
The entire system is lined with the delicious-sounding “mucosa.” The mouth, stomach, and small intestine’s batch of mucosa have tiny glands that help digest our food.
Digestion: The process that occurs throughout the digestive system that turns food into useful substances for our body or our toilet. Speaking of, fun-ish fact: it takes approximately 30 to 40 hours for food to get from your mouth to your porcelain throne (medicinenet).
Considering we cannot peek inside our bodies to see the health of our digestive tract, we must turn to external guides – like our poop! Check out this descriptive infographic that covers “what your poo is telling you.”
It’s clear that our digestive tract has a substantial influence over our overall health. Here are the essentials of what gives us a healthy digestive tract:
Fibre makes the digestive tract go ‘round; fibre is to your digestive tract as money is to the world. Fibre comes from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes and keeps food moving through your system. There are two types of fibre, soluble (can dissolve in water) and insoluble (cannot dissolve in water).
They are both important and play a different role in aiding digestion. So enjoy some soluble oat bran, legumes, nuts/seeds, and some insoluble wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables. Less-than-fun-ish fact: on average, Canadians only get half their recommended amount of fibre.
2. Limit fatty foods
While the body enjoys some healthy fats, too much fat can slow down your digestion. So, do your digestive tract a favour and pair fibre and fats to help keep everything moving. Enjoy a scoop of peanut butter on an apple, and the fibre from the apple will help the unsaturated fat from the nut butter be more easily digested. The fun fact of this point? The go-to healthy snack suggestion!
Fibre is pretty dense and demands a lot of water, so water is fibre’s best friend. Remember that perfect poop we talked about earlier on? This has a lot to do with fibre’s handy work of absorbing water and pulling it into the colon. Water alone also maintains the proper balance of fluids in our bodies. Water has received quite a lot of good press over the years, and we get it — we’ll drink our 8 glasses.
Probiotics contain the same type of healthy bacteria that already live in your digestive tract. They are responsible for aiding in vitamin absorption, combating the effects of less healthy foods, antibiotics, and environmental factors like stress. Fermented foods are your food ticket to Progressive’s Probiotics (especially if you’re taking antibiotics). Yay good bacteria!
Has your yoga teacher ever cued a twist and claim that it’s good for digestion? External factors like cardiovascular activities and muscle-strengthening yoga can assist your internal activities. If you’re ever constipated, a large glass a water (or coffee for some) and a run can really help move things along. That was obviously the most fun fact-ish of all!
6. Stress control
Lastly, no worries! Stress can cause havoc on your digestive health and slow your system down. Then, constipation causes stress, and that’s a loop no one wants to be in. Yoga is good for that too! Because who can pay attention to stress when you’re tied up in a digestive twist?
Try VegeGreens, it's a tasty way to pack in your daily intake of plant nutrients and water! Try the VegeGreens challenge: