We are happiest with our stomach and entire digestion system when we aren’t thinking about them. We aren’t thinking about our stomach or digestive tract because, normally, we feel fine down there, content to shovel food and drink down the hatch with no bloating, no tummy ache, no nausea, no sharp pains, no peptic ulcers, no bowel issues (that we know of), no heartburn, no diarrhea, and no constipation to give us pause. A healthy digestive system? Priceless.
Our digestive system, and that includes our stomach, can be a temperamental thing, though. It does so much on our behalf, per health.harvard.edu, breaking down “foods and liquids into their chemical components – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and the like – that the body can absorb as nutrients and use for energy or to build or repair cells.”
There’s a lot of machinery in operation down there, hard at work on our behalf, and plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong as food and drink take their slow journey through our digestive tract. Food in the digestive tract goes from the esophagus, to the stomach (where digestion gets underway), to the small intestine, on to the large intestine and then on into the disposal system.
Digestive System Health
Our digestive system does an efficient, effective job in taking care of itself, often working overtime or going the extra mile to compensate for the mistakes we humans make when choosing what to put into our mouths and in what volume. We can help matters immensely ourselves by adhering to some common-sense measures to aid in our digestive health, from keeping our weight in a healthy range to eating a healthy, balanced diet, and from exercising consistently to managing our stress (which is possible, if we work at it).
We can also help our digestive system run smoothly (and ache-free) by choosing the right vitamins and supplements to augment our daily diets. First, though, always be sure to discuss the use of them with your physician, and heed his or her advice. Following are some vitamins and supplements deemed especially useful for maintaining a healthy digestive tract:
- Peppermint oil. Per webmd.com, several studies have shown that peppermint oil can alleviate the bloat and pain that accompanies Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It usually is encased in enteric-coated capsules that pass through the stomach intact and make it to the intestines before dissolving and releasing the soothing oil.
- Chamomile. Anyone with plant allergies might want to avoid this stuff as it might cause an allergic reaction. Otherwise, chamomile, often consumed in tea form, can help soothe an upset stomach, colic, and nausea, and can even help with things such as insomnia and anxiety.
- Ginger. For an untold number of centuries, Asian medical practitioners have used ginger to relieve stomachaches, and in more recent times it has made its way to the western world, where it has been used for pregnant women to help alleviate nausea and vomiting. Best consumed in small doses, however.
- L-Glutamine. Glutamine is found naturally in our bodies, as it helps to maintain the health of our intestines, as well as other organs. It is believed to assist in relieving diarrhea that has been brought on by surgery, infections, or stress. It also can help with the absorption of nutrients.
- Gelatin. Broth loaded with gelatin has worked wonders for healing guts for centuries as it’s very soothing to the digestive system, per paleoleap.com. In powder form it can have a part in making delicious desserts, such as Jell-O, which this writer has found particularly helpful in a fast-acting way when beginning a bounce back from a tussle with stomach flu that has left me wrung out and dehydrated.
- Probiotics. We covered this thoroughly in a recent blog, about how probiotics contain millions of “good” bacteria especially beneficial to our gut health. They have been found to be effective on both ends of the spectrum in they can relieve both constipation and diarrhea. Some antibiotics have been found to produce unwanted diarrhea, and probiotics can help reverse that.
- Licorice. It can be consumed either in supplement form or as an herbal tea, or even raw with food, per 34-menopause-symptoms.com, and can help lessen various digestive ailments. It is believed that it can ease the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn, which also were examined in a recent blog here. Many women suffer from digestive problems, and they, especially, can be helped by supplements.