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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Improve Digestion to Improve Health

A healthy digestive system is critical to maintaining optimal health. When the digestive system is functioning properly, vitamins and nutrients are easily absorbed, enriching cells and promoting healing where needed.

The primary purpose of the digestive tract is to extract nutrition from food and discard the rest as waste. How efficiently the stomach, intestines and other digestive organs do their jobs has a profound impact on quality of life. Poor digestion can lead to acid reflux and irritable bowel disease. It can also impact the nervous system, emotional health, the immune system and hormones.

Friendly bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining good health in the digestive track. Not only do they help the body manufacture vitamins, they also boost immune cells and prevent us from absorbing harmful pathogens. Probiotics provide live strains of friendly bacteria that are crucial to digestive, immune and neurological health. Digestive enzymes support digestion and help improve nutrient absorption. They help break down proteins and other nutrients into smaller parts that increase digestive capacity.

Herbs can also play a helpful role in digestion. Chinese cardamom increases antioxidant levels and supports immunity and digestion. Cinnamon soothes discomfort, improves digestive capacity, boosts immunity and helps balance blood sugar. Ginger root improves digestion, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidant levels and boosts immunity. Chamomile and mint are especially comforting for the stomach and help with healthy digestion by easing stomach irritation and relaxing the smooth muscles of the digestive tract.

Fiber helps keep things moving, which prevents the colon from collecting toxins that can cause disease. Fruits such as prunes, dark green leafy vegetables and gluten-free grains such as quinoa, legumes and chia seeds all contain ample amounts of healthy fiber. Fermented foods like sauerkraut are rich in digestive enzymes and probiotic bacteria, which can help improve digestive function.

One of the most common digestive complaints is an overly acidic stomach. An ideal way to neutralize acidity is to eat more alkaline foods. Foods such as kale, spinach, parsley, sea vegetables and broccoli are very alkaline. In many cases too much stomach acid is due to a hydrochloric acid deficiency, which causes food to stagnate in the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and a feeling of hyperacidity. Taking digestive enzymes that contain hydrochloric acid can help. It can also be taken as a single supplement with meals.

Some foods are notorious for causing digestive discomfort. Dairy is one of the worst offenders because it is difficult to digest. The lactose in dairy products often causes gas, bloating, diarrhea and digestive dysfunction. In addition to these unpleasant symptoms, eating too much dairy can lead to long-term digestive problems.

Foods containing gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye, can interfere with digestion. They have also been found to contribute to inflammatory conditions, heartburn, autoimmune disorders, neurological and behavioral issues, skin diseases, osteoporosis and chronic fatigue. Those that suffer from chronic digestive or immune issues may have a gluten sensitivity or even celiac disease.

It is not enough to just change what we eat; we must also address the way we eat. Late-night meals, rushed eating and stress can all contribute to digestive issues. Simply taking time to slow down and chew thoroughly helps improve digestive health and relieve tension. Avoid eating anything two to three hours before bedtime. Drink plenty of alkaline water between meals, because too much water during a meal can dilute digestive fluids and interfere with the process.

Eat more organic raw and living sprouted foods, which are alkaline and nutrient-dense. If there is trouble digesting raw foods in the beginning, process vegetables in a high-speed blender. A blended green vegetable smoothie is easy to prepare and a delicious helpmate to improve depleted digestion.

Green Digestive Smoothie

2 cups romaine lettuce 1 cup celery 1 cup sunflower sprouts 1 tsp dulse seaweed flakes 1 tsp fresh lemon juice 1 tsp fresh ginger 2 cups alkaline water

Blend in a Vita-Mix or any high-speed blending machine. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876 and visit

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