What Is the Job of the Digestive System?
When it comes to your digestive system, it is extremely important to keep it functional and strong. Your digestive system is responsible for taking whole foods and turning them into energy and nutrients to allow your body to function, grow, and repair itself. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and waters are all nutrients that your body needs to function.
The digestive system converts the foods into their simplest forms like glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. Glucose is an important energy source that all the cells and organs of the body need. Amino acids are the building block of proteins and are needed for vital processes like cell building and synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Similarly, fatty acids serve as energy for the muscles, heart, and other organs. You might not think much about your digestive system, but it is working hard to keep your body healthy every day. The six primary processes of the digestive system include:
- Ingesting food
- Secreting fluids and digestive enzymes
- Mixing and moving of food and wastes through the body
- Digesting food into smaller pieces
- Absorbing nutrients
- Excreting wastes
Common Digestive Disorders
As important as the digestive system is, it is also highly prone to issues.Digestive troubles are very common, affecting as many as one in five Americans. If your digestive system is not functioning properly, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Weight gain or loss
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you might be dealing with one of the following digestive disorders:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. The backwash, known as acid reflux, can irritate the lining of the esophagus. Many people experience acid reflux occasionally, and GERD is a mild form of acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week. This disorder can typically be treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.
- Chronic diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea is experienced as loose stool that lasts for at least four weeks, and usually causes three or more loose stools per day. A wide variety of problems can cause chronic diarrhea, but it can usually be treated by consuming plenty of clear liquids and increasing fiber intake.
- Chronic constipation
Chronic constipation is essentially the opposite of chronic diarrhea. Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that continue for several weeks. If you are having fewer than three bowel movements every week, you might be struggling with chronic constipation. This condition can also usually be treated with fiber and fluid.
With gastroenteritis, the stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed, which is typically due to a viral or bacterial infection. If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to severe hydration, nerve problems, kidney failure, and even death, so it is essential to treat this issue as soon as possible. Because it is a virus, it does not respond well to antibiotics. Rather, it is usually treated with fluid replacements and drugs that kill the parasites if applicable.
- Peptic ulcers
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. These ulcers are usually treated with antibiotics and medications that block acid production and promote healing.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. These symptoms can often be confused with those of other digestive problems because they are quite simple. Plus, some symptoms can actually overlap with digestive issues, like bleeding from the rectum. Regardless, if you are noticing these problems, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How Can You Improve Your Digestive System Fast?
Whether you are experiencing major digestive disorders like the ones above or you are suffering from smaller issues, there are always steps you can take to get your digestive system back on track. This will help your body’s immune system, clear up your skin, improve your hair, and improve your energy levels.
If digestive health is your top priority, single-ingredient foods in their most natural form that are familiar to the body will be helpful for you. Examples of these types of foods include wholegrains and legumes, fruits and vegetables, lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils. At the same time, it will be helpful to cut out foods that are high in saturated fat, like fatty meat and fast foods, as well as high sugar and refined food with added preservatives.
Incorporating high fiber foods into the diet will challenge your digestive system, which will give it what it needs to improve. Dietary fibers increase the weight and size of your stool and soften it. Bulkier stool will be easier to pass and decrease your chances of becoming constipated and experiencing other digestive issues.
Probiotics and prebiotics are also excellent for your digestive health. Probiotics are the same kind of healthy bacteria and yeasts that are naturally present in your digestive tract. Adding probiotics will help balance the good bacteria in your digestive system. Prebiotics also act as food for probiotics and help them support healthy bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are found in yogurt and other fermented foods and dietary supplements, and prebiotics are naturally found in foods like bananas, onions, garlic asparagus, dandelion greens, and sunchokes.
Caring for the important systems in the body will help the body function and contribute to a healthy life. At Soza Weight Loss, we have designed a healthy living program meant to help individuals of all ages and lifestyles to improve the overall wellness of our patients. If you have been having trouble losing weight or have other health problems, we would love to help you navigate them and experience the freedom that good health can provide.
To learn more about our healthy living program and other services, call Soza Weight Loss at (504) 475-9817 or contact us online.