Slow Digestion

by Kevin Pederson


Slow digestion is, as the name suggests, digestion that happens at a slower-than-usual pace. Digestion should take about 24-72 hours on a normal cycle. Once you eat, your stomach breaks down the contents for easy assimilation and passes them on to the intestines, after using the liver’s help in separating the food. The intestines further break the food down. The undigested food is eventually passed to the colon where you pass it out as faeces, approximately 24 hours later.

If you do not eat properly or eat too frequently, your digestive system will slow down. This will lead to a slowed digestive process causing many symptoms, most of which will cause discomfort and in some cases, even pain.

Let's look at some basic symptoms of a slow digestive system.

Symptoms: Main symptoms of slowly digesting your food include

Long term effects of slow digestion can result in a constant presence of toxins in the system, especially the colon and the intestine. Such toxins could eventually increase the risk of colon cancer.

Causes

  • What are reasons for a perfectly healthy digestive system to slow down? The causes are never simple and clear cut. They happen slowly and over a period of time due to lifestyle choices and unhealthy eating habits. Some common causes are,Eating too much processed or refined food
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not including enough fibre in the diet
  • Not getting adequate exercise or being active enough

Sometimes conditions like diverticulitis, Crohn's disease or even diabetes can lead to long term damage in nerves or the intestines which can affect digestion.

Remedies: Improving digestion is a largely holistic exercise where just implementing any one change will not ensure an adequate change. The change has to be made in all aspects of your life to ensure proper and adequate improvement.

  • You have to get your hours of sleep. Not having a scheduled sleep routine can affect your digestive system.
  • Get regular exercise even if it means just going for a walk daily.
  • Getting active will help improve your metabolism which in turn will also improve your digestion.
  • Reduce the quantity of processed and refined food that you eat – ready to eat foods, junk food and refined products –will just add to your digestion woes. Keeping your diet free from pesticides and preservatives and having a high organic content will help improve digestion.
  • Increase the fibre you consume by adding more whole grain, fruits, vegetables and legumes to your diet. Remember to increase your intake of water.
  • Keep adequate breaks between meals – eating too far apart or too close together might aggravate your digestive system further.
  • Introduce probiotics in to your diet. This will restore your intestines’ health. You can take supplements or just eat unflavoured plain yoghurt more regularly.
  • If you find it difficult getting back to a healthy lifestyle, try a small detoxification diet first, before making any drastic changes.

Sometimes digestion is affected in a pregnancy. During pregnancy, the whole body is strained under the effort of accommodating an infant within a woman’s body. This can tax the entire body, and towards the end of the pregnancy, digestion issues can crop up. Constipation is quite common, as hormones make the digestive muscles lax. Progesterone is the hormone responsible for that. As a result, digestion slows down, increasing bloating, gas and a general sense of being uncomfortable. Even heartburn, belching and passing gas becomes common during the pregnancy. Eating frequently and drinking a lot of water is known to help.

Reference:

  1. http://www.womenshealth.gov/news/headlines/660275.cfm
  2. http://web.pdx.edu/~sujata/FruitEzeWeb/education/pregnancy/index.html

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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