Take Care Of The Gastrointestinal System From Start To Finish

April 1, 2011

Take care of the gastrointestinal system! (in yellow)

The gastrointestinal system (or tract, GI Tract) is a part of the immune system that few pay attention to. Necessarily more absorbent than skin, what goes into the stomach can have a huge effect on overall health.

There are many specific conditions that can affect the GI Tract if it’s not taken care of properly, or if the genetic lottery favors it, such as Crohn’s Disease or  Ulcerative Collitis. But if you are proactive in promoting gastrointestinal health, then you can lessen or avoid these and other problems.
Start With What You Eat

The easiest rule to follow: eat foods with a small number of ingredients. Foods with a short list of ingredients on the label are less likely to have tons of additives (preservatives, food coloring, artificial sweeteners or flavors). Additives aren’t really food, and the gastrointestinal system isn’t really designed to process them (case in point: some low-cal sweeteners work because your body can’t use them).

If you have an all natural diet but still have poor digestion, consider supplementing with enzymes. As bodies get older, their ability to absorb nutrients and create things like enzymes with them diminishes. Luckily, supplements can give you everything from easy to absorb nutrients to the missing enzymes.

Hygiene, of course, is important. Stomach flu is incredibly common the world over, but if you keep your natural bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract healthy and thriving, you can help your body fight foreign pathogens. Probiotics, found in yogurt and other fermented foods, replenish natural gastrointestinal flora.

If you do get sick, and have a round of antibiotics, they can kill the natural bacteria in your gut. Again, supplementing with probiotics is a good solution. If the entire bacterial colony dies, there’s a risk that fungus could take over (and be very hard to get rid of).

Complete Your Diet

Ulcerative collitis and Crohn’s disease are variations of inflammation in the GI Tract. Prolonged gut inflammation increases the risk for cancer.

Antioxidants help fight inflammation. Found in fruits, veggies, and in fish and nuts (great sources of inflammation fighting Omega-3), eating more antioxidants means supporting your overall health. Besides fighting inflammation, antioxidants are great support for the liver.

Also beneficial: water. Despite having access to clean drinking water, many people in first world countries can go days without drinking water, turning instead to coffee, juice, and alcohol. Water helps the entire body function, including the GI Tract.

What other tips do you have for taking care of the GI Tract? How often do you cleanse it?

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