What is digestion?
Digestion is a process in which food is broken down in our bodies so that it can be absorbed into our bloodstream, distributed around the body in the form of essential nutrients broken down by digestive enzymes, and converted into energy.
The liver and the pancreas play an important role in digestion and loss of appetite. The liver produces bile, which helps the digestion of fats and oil (lipids). The pancreas produces digestive enzymes which help to speed up digestion. It can take between nine hours and over a day for food to be fully digested.
What are the common digestive problems?
There are many different types of stomach problems such as heartburn and IBS. Bloating, diarrhoea, gas, and tummy ache are common symptoms experienced.
Bad digestion isn’t only due to over-indulgence, however. Certain foods can trigger digestive problems. Spicy, acidic and fatty foods can irritate your stomach and lead to heartburn; while beans and onions can result in gas. Ready meals and foods containing artificial sweeteners can also affect the digestive system.
Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea, increase acid in the stomach while fizzy drinks can result bloating: both can lead to heartburn.
How can digestive problems be prevented?
A diet rich in fibre can help with digestion and prevent constipation. Porridge, wholemeal bread, jacket potatoes, lentils and fresh vegetables and fruit are perfect for increasing your daily fibre intake.