17 Oct 2012
October 17, 2012

Tune-up for Your Digestive System I

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Nature has fashioned our bodies to be very forgiving of the abuse we give them on a daily basis. We eat too much of the wrong things, too much of the right things, wash it down with toxic substances and somehow we usually survive the abuse.  Yet at one time or another, one or more of the components in our digestive system do break down, and may need to be re-aligned. These tune-up ideas are intended to help with that re-alignment.

The first requirement to get back on track, is fiber. Fiber is also known as roughage. It’s simply plant materials that our bodies are actually not able to digest, and since our bodies don’t digest the fiber, it sweeps through our gastro-intestinal system, helping us to have regular bowel movements, and carrying along a lot of unwanted stuff with it.

Soluble and insoluble

Two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are needed by our body. Soluble fibre actually softens and  becomes gel-like, as it dissolves in water. That soluble gel helps to maintain the water balance in our systems while also managing our blood sugar levels, hormones and cholesterol. Pectin is a well known soluble fibre and just as pectin gels up Mr. Welch’s grape jelly, it also gels up in your gut.  Pectin is found in fruits such as plums, grapes, apples, pears and citrus fruits.

Insoluble fibre provides bulk in our system, and since it does not dissolve at all, it provides the bulkiness required to move feces efficiently through and out of the bowels. About 1/3 of all plant matter is an insoluble fibre called cellulose.   Cellulose is therefore a large component in vegetables and fruits.  It is well documented that a high fibre diet will stimulate regular and healthy bowel movements, normalized levels of blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol, while ridding the body of potential toxins and carcinogens.

Daily fiber guidelines

The recommended daily intake of fiber for adult women is 21-26 grams and for men 30-38 grams. This fiber can be obtained from dietary sources or supplements.. When considering dietary supplements, it is best to consider supplements that offer a combination of both fibers: soluble and insoluble. When increasing your fiber intake, through diet or supplements, plan on making the change slowly to avoid unwanted side effects such as gas and bloating.

In summary,  increasing the volume and variety of fiber in your diet will stimulate regular and healthy bowel movements, normalized levels of  insulin, blood sugar & cholesterol, while at the same time sweeping your system free of potential toxins and carcinogens.