How many times a day do you have a bowel movement? Are your stools formed or loose? Mr. Hanky may have been a ficticious character from the show South Park, but the quality and quantity of your stools are speaking to you about your state of health. The proper digestion and absorption of nutrients are essential. Dysfunction in the digestive system can cause a lowered immune system, fatigue, insomnia, and extreme mood swings.
Seventy percent of the cells that make up the body’s immune system are found in the wall of the gut, and what we eat may affect the body’s immune response. The normal bacteria in our large intestine contribute to bloating and gas production when carbohydrates are not completely absorbed in the small intestine.
There are many ways that you can improve your digestion and absorption. The first is portion control. There is an Okinawan saying: “Hara Hachi Bu” which translates into “Eat until you are eight parts full.”
This works well because it can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach stretch receptors to let you know that you are full. It is important to not overeat as this adds excessive stress to the digestive system to break down an unnecessary amount of food.
Eating whole foods instead of refined or processed foods will give you optimal health. Processed foods are convenient, but may use chemical additives and high fructose corn syrup for taste. These flavor enhancers are typically not absorbed well, which results in bloating and abdominal pain. Fiber rich fruits and vegetables help give you that bulky formed stool that will make you very proud. Whole foods are generally digested more easily and give you the nutrients that your body craves.
Drink plenty of water. Divide your weight in half and drink that amount in ounces each day. This will also improve elimination and help with detoxification.
We all know that exercising daily is important. Walking will improve your bowel movements. According to research published in the March 2008 issue of the “Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases,” walking speeds up your rate of digestion. This is because walking stimulates your midsection, thus helping your digestion system rise to the occasion. You can walk for as little as 15 minutes to help your body digest your meal faster.
The above should greatly improve your digestion and improve your bowel movements. If you’ve tried these recommendations and are still having issues, we can assist you with acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and naturopathic medicine and customize a treatment to get you feeling refreshed, and healthier than ever before.
Acupuncture can open up the smooth flow of circulation in your body, improve your digestion and assist with elimination. Our multitude of naturopathic options can turbo-boost your immune system into the fall.
Fred Russo is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Health Moves in Woodinville, 425.402.9999 or www.HealthMoves.org.