Tag Archives: Digestion

Nutrients affecting Digestive Health

digestive systemWe need a healthy digestive system to assimilate the food we eat; but little do we know that these nutrients are also needed to keep the digestive system healthy. From A to D, essential vitamins play key roles in maintaining digestive health. In most cases you can get these nutrients from the daily diet; but those with certain gastrointestinal diseases may need supplements, however always consult a doctor first. Read on to learn which vitamins are the most important for healthy digestion and how to incorporate them into your eating habits.

B Vitamins

These vitamins are found in proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, and dairy products, whole grain cereals, pulses, fruits like bananas, green vegetables and eggs. B vitamins are water-soluble, thus you cannot store them to use later; they need to be a regular part of your diet.

Essential B vitamins for the digestive system include:

  • B1: helps the body change the carbohydrates in diet into energy.
  • B3: is important for many digestive tract functions, including the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.
  • B6: is very important in helping digestive system process the protein in the diet.
  • Biotin:This B vitamin helps the digestive system produce cholesterol and process proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids.
  • B12: plays a role in the nervous system, the production of blood cells, and the body’s use of folic acid and carbohydrates.

Vitamin C

Because it is an antioxidant, many people associate vitamin C with the immune system and preventing colds, but it also aids in digestion by supporting healthy teeth and gums and helping the body absorb iron. Food sources include: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemon, mausmi), berries (e.g. amla), tomatoes, peppers, broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body in absorbing calcium and plays a key role in how the nerves, muscles, and immune system function. Also healthy levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer. There are three ways you can get vitamin D: Sun exposure, Vitamin D-rich foods, such as egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk and cereal and supplements.

If you are not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Keep in mind that you may already be taking a supplement that contains vitamin D. e.g. many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved primarily in boosting vision, bone, and reproductive health, as well as helping the immune system. Sources of vitamin A include liver, whole milk and its products, cod liver oil, kidney, egg, fish, meat and some fortified food products; colourful fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange and dark green leafy ones like carrot, papaya, tomato, capsicum, mango, apricot, spinach, fenugreek, etc. Although vitamin A is not directly involved in digestion, some gastrointestinal diseases can leave you vulnerable to a vitamin A deficiency.

So follow the mantra: Eat healthy to keep your digestive system healthy.

Put a GAG on GAS!!!

A burp or a fart at wrong times can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort. Nonetheless it is a part and parcel of life because an average adult produces about 0.5-1.5 liters of gas every day which is either passed as flatus or as a burp. The amount of gas produced depends on the diet and other individual factors. Certain foods, eating habits and disease conditions can cause you to make excessive amounts of gas. This piece of writing reviews the sources of intestinal gas, conditions that increase sensitivity to gas and measures to reduce gas production.

As a student we study the three states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. The lightest state of the three can act quite heavy when inside the intestines. Intestinal gas comes from two primary sources of intestinal gas: gas that is swallowed and gas that is produced by bacteria in the large intestine.

Swallowed air is the major source of gas in the stomach. It is normal to swallow a small amount of air while eating and drinking and this is mostly eliminated by burping.

Bacterial production: The colon normally houses billions of bacteria which support intestinal health. Certain carbohydrates which are incompletely digested by our intestines are acted upon by these bacteria. In this process certain gases are produced like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane and very small amounts of sulfur.

Causes of Increased Gas Formation

  • Larger amounts of air can be swallowed when eating food rapidly, gulping liquids, while having carbonated beverages or chewing a gum, or smoking.
  • Foods that cause gas: Several foods contain a carbohydrate ‘raffinose’, which is poorly digested and can increase gas production. Foods like beans, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus (shatavari), etc.
  • Some laxatives contain soluble fiber and may cause gas, particularly during the first few weeks of use.
  • Certain Diseases: Lactose intolerance – Lactose intolerance occurs when your body has difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and most milk-based products. Gluten Sensitivity or celiac diseaseGluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. The people who are not able to digest gluten are said to be sensitive to gluten. Irritable bowel syndrome – Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sensitive to normal amounts of gas and normal movement in the intestines feels painful or overactive.
  • Stress can also lead to increased gas formation because people under stress often swallow a lot of air.

Measures to reduce Gas

  • Avoid foods that appear to aggravate your symptoms. These may include milk and dairy products, certain fruits or vegetables, whole grains, artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages. Keep a record of foods to help to identify which foods are troublesome.
  • If you are lactose intolerant, do not consume products that contain lactose or use a lactose-digestive aid, such as pre-digested dairy products or lactase supplements (e.g., Lactaid® tablets or liquid).
  • Fructo-oligosaccharides present in certain foods promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which help in keeping the growth of gas-producing bacteria in check.
  • Chew food thoroughly. Large particles cause gas when they pass into the large intestine without being completely digested.
  • Eat slowly. If you eat too quickly, you tend to swallow more air.

Though relatively harmless, excessive gas in the gastro-intestinal tract can be quite annoying. By checking our food habits we can put a gag on this gas.