A good digestive system is a key factor in maintaining health and well-being. If the digestive system is weak or upset, we can feel tired, irritable, and unable to concentrate and sleep. If elimination through the bowel is upset, essential food nutrients can be lost, for example in cases of duodenal ulcers and chronic diarrhea. Constipation can give rise to many other complaints, such as low immunity and headaches, due to toxins not being evacuated.
The digestive system begins in the mouth, where food is chewed and mixed with enzymes in the saliva to break it down. It passes through the esophagus to the stomach. Here, food is partly digested through the action of enzymes, and strong acid secretions which kill any harmful bacteria. In the small intestine or duodenum, the food is mixed with enzyme-rich secretions from the pancreas and gut wall, and with bile from the liver. Essential nutrients are absorbed by the bloodstream and taken to the liver, where it is processed. In the large intestine or colon, the fluids are absorbed into the bloodstream, leaving the residue, or fecal matter, to be expelled.
Our health and vitality depends on eating a well-balanced diet and the functioning of an efficient digestive system. Absorption of essential nutrients supplies the body with the necessary building blocks to keep it fit and strong.
Supporting the digestive system:
Foods: papaya, liquid chlorophyll, spinach, sun-dried olives, chard, celery, kale, beet greens, whey, shredded beet, watercress, yogurt and kefir
Drinks: parsley juice, papaya juice, carrot juice, potato peeling broth, whey drinks
Herbs: papaya, alfalfa, aloe vera, peppermint, slippery elm, cayenne, burdock, comfrey, ginger, fennel, anise, dandelion, marshmallow, chamomile, meadowsweet
Minerals: sodium, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, iron, sulphur, copper, silicon, zinc, iodine
Vitamins: A, C, B-complex, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), D, E, F, K, folic acid, inositol
Essential oils: the external application of essential oils in problems of the digestive system though effective, is somewhat limited compared to the internal use of herbal remedies.
Antispasmodics for spasm, pain, indigestion, etc: chamomile, caraway, fennel, orange, peppermint, lemon balm, aniseed, cinnamon
Carminatives and stomachics for flatulent dyspepsia, aerophagia, nausea, etc: angelica, basil, fennel, chamomile, peppermint, mandarin
Cholagogues for increasing the flow of bile and stimulating the gall bladder: caraway, lavender, peppermint
Hepatics for liver congestion, jaundice, etc: lemon, lime, rosemary, peppermint
Aperitifs for loss of appetite, anorexia, etc: aniseed, angelica, orange, ginger, garlic
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