Research in this area is of course something that is considered taboo by many, even professionals in the medical field.
Having a healthy digestive system and understanding the research in this area is, in my opinion, extremely important to your health and well being.
So, I guess I am one of the brave souls that will be attempting to tackle this issue.
I like a good laugh like any other person, but the fact of the matter is, talking about this subject is just as important as talking about the risks of smoking and the benefits of exercise.
After reading an article on the subject by Mairi R. Ross, Health Writer for Nutri-Health Supplements, I decided to adapt some of the important points into an article for the “Practical Science” column.
How Often is Considered 'Healthy?'
The general rule that most will say to you is that once or twice a day is very healthy.
This may not be necessarily true according to the article.
It actually all depends on the physical properties of the stool.
Stool should be rather soft, smooth, and brown.
This is indicative of a healthy digestion period.
A meal should pass through your system in approximately 12 hours.
On the other end, sometimes this process can take 40-80 hours.
The longer stool says in your system, the more dehydrated and hard-to-pass it becomes.
So, in essence, it really doesn’t matter how often you go, as long as it is at least once every two days or so, and if the physical properties resemble the ones above.
Someone may go very frequently but may actually be constipated.
Going should never be painful and should not involve any heavy straining.
Does color mean anything?
Alright, this next part may be a little gross, but this is how your physician might explain it.
Most people get alarmed when the color of your stool changed color.
It isn’t really something to get alarmed about!
- Green usually means too many vegetables while reds could mean beats or foods with red food coloring.
- Dark browns could mean too much meat and starches in your diet and not enough green vegetables.
- Light Yellow could mean too many peaches while black could be because of too much blueberries, licorice, or Guinness beer.
- Blue coloration may be indicative of grape soda and other foods that have blue food coloring in it.
- Orange, yes orange, could be caused by some green vegetables like kale, collards, cilantro, spinach, and turnip greens. Also, orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes may also be a culprit.
Alas, there are a few colors that you should be worried about.
If stool is pale and white, this may be due to liver or gall bladder problems.
Silver or black coloration with a tarry or sticky look is usually indicative of blood. Obviously, the presence of blood is also a sign of intestinal bleeding.
A yellow coloration may mean liver or pancreas issues.
If you see any of these issues, consult a physician right away.
How can I improve my Digestive Health?
There are a number of ways to improve your digestive health, but the best thing you can do is to incorporate more fiber in your diet and also ingest foods that introduce healthy mixtures of bacteria – Probiotics.
Humans are actually more bacteria than we are human.
There is, in fact, in your body than there are actual human cells.
Most of these bacteria live in your gut and help you digest your food.
Without them, you could never really have a healthy digestive system.
Keeping the bacteria levels in balance is essential to healthy digestion.
The below foods add both healthy bacteria and a number of digestive enzymes to your diet:
- Kefir – a fermented milk drink of Turkish origin
- Soy sauce
- Miso – bean curd found in Japanese cuisine.
- Tempeh – An Indonesian fermented soy product
- Raw Honey
- Kimchi – A Koren dish made of fermented vegetables
In addition to incorporating probiotic foods and digestive enzymes to your diet, dietary fiber is also very important.
These are very large polysaccharide molecules that help make up the cell walls of plants.
Water is absorbed by these molecules easily, making the digestive journey through your system much easier.
Foods that are high in fiber are:
- Black Beans
- Wheat Bran
- Coconut Flakes
- Sesame Seed
- Flax Seeds
I hope that this article shed some light on the benefits of a healthy digestive system.
I learned a lot myself reading the article, which I highly recommend checking out.
A lifestyle change is somewhat necessary, but just take it slow. Start by incorporating few of these foods into your diet and see how much better you feel.
I also recommend eating less red meat. I’m not saying to stop eating it, but limiting your intake to once a week is beneficial for your health.
Red meat is high in fat and takes your body longer to process in addition to packing on pounds and clogging the old arteries.
If you are considering on trying to improve your digestive health, I would like to hear your progress in the comments section.
Good luck and always remember to think about it!