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Digestive Support

The digestive system is very important for the maintenance of health. The digestive system processes everything we eat and drink to supply the body with the energy and material that it needs to function, build and maintain itself. It comprises the digestive tract from the mouth through the stomach, small and large intestines, to the anus.

There are many areas in the digestive process where things can go wrong. Below we have addressed:

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease causes part of the digestive tract to become inflamed. Symptoms include:

Many Crohn's disease sufferers have above average sugar in their diet, which may be cause the condition or make the condition worse. There is also evidence that the increased permeability of the bowel wall causes nutrients to be inadequately absorbed, which means that higher quantities are required. Food allergies and intolerances may also contribute to the condition and some think that the immune system has become overactive.

What you can do to help

Consume nutrients to boost and balance immune activity, including:

Where there is diarrhea take the supplements in a form that can be more readily absorbed before they reach the gut.

Iron may be necessary if there is blood loss.

Take acidophilus supplement especially if taking antibiotics so that the natural bowel bacteria can be restored.

Reduce that amount of sugar in the diet and eliminate any foods to which you are allergic or intolerant.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by:

IBS can be triggered by:

In many sufferers there is an infestation of Candida which makes the condition worse.

What you can do to help

Drink plenty of pure water (six to eight glasses per day), but avoid drinking with meals which will dilute the stomach acids.

Make sure that you get adequate fiber in the diet. This will assist in dealing with constipation and diarrhea and help to detoxify the system.

Take acidophilus which will redress the imbalance of bacteria in the bowel in favor of helpful organisms.

Take vitamin B complex which will help to deal with the stress and also encourage regular control of nerve and muscle function.

Magnesium relaxes the nerves and also helps relieve excessive muscle contractions and spasms.

Antioxidants help to relieve inflammation and damage to the tissue in the bowel wall. Vitamins C and E are also helpful with healing and inflammation.

Selenium will also work to complement the healing of Vitamin C and E.

Hemorrhoids (piles)

Hemorrhoids (piles) are varicose veins in the lower part of the rectum or anus. The veins become swollen because of increased pressure often as a result of constipation and straining during defecation. They are common during pregnancy and if the person is overweight.

What you can do to help

The most common cause of hemorrhoids is constipation which fortunately responds well to nutritional medicine.

Magnesium is likely to be deficient. It is required for the smooth muscles of the body (the lining of the bowel contains smooth muscle). When magnesium is deficient the muscles do not contract and relax in the correct sequence. Magnesium as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement should assist in correcting the deficiency.

Ensure that your diet is rich in fibre. You can take a fiber supplement such as linseed. The fiber will hold a lot of water and stimulate bowel movement.

Ensure that you drink plenty of fresh water. The fluids will assist in softening the stool.

Avoid caffeinated beverages as these act as a diuretic and will deplete the fluids for softening the stool.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids will help to ensure the integrity of the blood vessels which makes the hemorrhoids less likely.

Indigestion

Symptoms of indigestion include:

Always be sure to consult a health professional who can help to ensure that your indigestion is not actually heart realted pain, or masking heart related pain.

Indigestion can be brought on by:

What you can do to help

Avoid eating fatty foods, which can make the condition worse.

Try to avoid eating a large meal late at night because this means going to bed with a large amount of undigested food and acid in the stomach.

Try eating a slice of fresh pineapple after meals to ease the symptoms (canned pineapple does not seem to be as effective).

Try to work out if you have any food allergies or intolerances that may be making the condition worse. Common culprits are:

Take acidophilus to help build up the healthy bacteria in the bowel to ensure optimum absorption of nutrients in the bowel and the health of the gut itself.

Take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that the nutrients required for digestive functions are present.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized by frequent loose stools and is often accompanied by vomiting. The most common causes are an infection of the digestive tract which leads to gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is caused by eating contaminated food, a viral infection or the result of an imbalance in the natural bacteria of the digestive tract.

Food allergies are also a common cause of diarrhea but they are unrelated to gastroenteritis.

If you are experiencing severe vomiting and diarrhea you will need to seek medical assistance. This should be attended to urgently if experienced by young children.

What you can do to help

Drink plenty of water to flush out the system and to prevent dehydration (which can be serious).

Zinc may reduce gut permeability, if this condition is causing chronic diarrhea to occur.

Increase your intake of potassium which is easily lost in diarrhea and vomiting. Potassium is not usually supplemented so ensure that you get plenty of foods that are rich in the mineral, such as avocados, bananas and vegetable juices.

Take extra vitamins B1 and B3 as a part of the vitamin B complex supplement. This will assist the digestive system.

Take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement with food when you are able to eat properly again. This will assist in replacing the nutrients that have been lost.

Take plenty of fresh acidophilus for at least a month after an attack to ensure the growth of sufficient healthy bacteria in the bowel.

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References

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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The digestive system is the link between a person's metabolism and health and their diet. The appetite is an important part of nutrition and normal functioning of the digestive system. It influences the anticipation of food, the rate at which food is consumed and the secretion of digestive juices.