Digestive Supplements

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Digestion is at the core of maintaining good health.  Providing your body with essential nutrients and the ability to break them down into usable fuel for energy is the basis on which to build a solid foundation for good health.  

The Digestive Process:
  • Digestion begins in the mouth.  Food is partly broken down by the process of chewing and by the chemical action of salivary enzymes (these enzymes are produced by the salivary glands and begin the break down of starches).
  • Esophagus - After being chewed and swallowed, the food enters the esophagus. The esophagus is a long tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. It uses rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach. 
  • Stomach - The stomach is a large, sack-like organ that churns the food and bathes it in a very strong acid (gastric acid). Food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids is called chyme.
  • Small Intestine - After leaving the stomach, food enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine, then passes to the jejunum and then ileum (the final part of the small intestine). In the small intestine, bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder), pancreatic enzymes, and other digestive enzymes produced by the inner wall of the small intestine help continue the breakdown of food.
  • Large Intestine - Food then passes into the large intestine where some of the water and electrolytes (chemicals like sodium) are removed from the food. Many microbes (probiotics like Bacteroides, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella) in the large intestine help continue digestion process. The first part of the large intestine is called the cecum (the appendix is connected to the cecum). Food then travels upward in the ascending colon, across the transverse colon, down the  descending colon, and then through the sigmoid colon.
  • Elimination - Solid waste is then stored in the rectum until it is excreted via the anus.
Indigestion
Formally called dyspepsia, is a catch-all term for any number of digestive issues that can result in stomach discomfort.  Indigestion can be caused by eating too fast, eating the wrong kinds of foods, or by more serious health conditions like Crohn's or IBS.  Learning about common digestive issues when one may affect you or someone you love.

Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn - a slight burning sensation in the chest or throat - is typically a symptom of acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid leaves the stomach and enters the esophagus.  Acid reflux can be occasional or chronic.  The more severe and chronic cases are classified as: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.  

Common Heartburn Triggers
  • Food sensitivites or food allergies
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee (regular and decaf) and caffeinated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods
  • Cirtrus fruits
  • Mint
  • Tomatoes and other nightshades
Constipation and Diarrhea
In the United States, consitpation accounts for 2.5 million doctor visits and an estimated $400 million in laxative sales every year.  This occurs when stools become difficult to pass, and is officially defined as when bowel movement frequency drops to less than three per week.  In the natural field healthy bowel function is one good sized movement for each meal eaten the previous day.  Constipation can be the result of poor diet, stress and certain medications. 

On the other end of the spectrum, diarrhea is marked by frequent loose, watery stools. Unchecked it can quickly lead to dehydration. Often diarrhea can be a result of bowel blockage, illness or lack of probiotics.

Enzymes are specialized proteins that speed up normal, necessary reactions in the body.  Digestive enzymes can help make digestion infinitely more efficient, and with the addition of probiotics can often help with digestive disturbances, constipation and/ or diarrhea.
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