WHAT IS THE DIGESTION SYSTEM?
The digestive system is an array of organs that work together to process the food you consume into energy for bodily needs. Once you consume the food and liquids, it is broken down into basic parts- carbs, fats, proteins, and vitamins.
These nutrients are mopped up by the bloodstream, which transports them to the cells throughout the body. These nutrients act as a source of energy for the growth and repair of the cells and tissues. Every single unit in your body, be it your hormones, cells, tissues, organs, need nutrients to get its source of energy for processing the work.
How does the digestive system work?
When you eat, food moved from the mouth down the esophagus to the stomach. Then it passes through the small and large intestine and eventually becomes waste for elimination through the anus. The subsiding organs helping the body digest foods include the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The function of these organs is to generate chemicals to aid digestion.
All of these organs work along the line to get the organs their share of nutrients. Some of these organs are hollow, while others are solid. To help food gets through the digestive system (from hollow to solid organs) muscle contractions, help in the process. This process is called peristalsis.
The hollow organs of the digestive system include the following:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
Problems of Digestive System
When one or more parts of the digestive system do not work properly, this can cause issues with digestion, ranging from mild discomfort to severe health concerns. Some common types of digestive system issues include:
Acid Reflux and GERD
Acid reflux occurs when acid in the stomach flows back into the food pipe, esophagus, causing heartburn. This has become a lifestyle disorder affecting people due to poor lifestyle and eating habits. When acid reflux happens more than twice per week, it becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The symptoms usually include:
- a burning sensation in the chest or throat
- a sour taste at the back of the mouth
- trouble swallowing
- dry cough
- regurgitating food
- retching sour liquid
- a lump in your throat
Gallstones are solid masses of fluid called bile in the gallbladder. They can be tiny as a sand granule or as large as a golf ball. There may be one gallstone or numerous at the same time. GB stones cause intense pain as they grow bigger.
The signs may be as follow:
- pain in the upper right section of the abdomen that radiates to the right shoulder or shoulder blades
- yellow tint in the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- clay-colored stools
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
IBD is a group of conditions of the small intestine and the colon. Crohn’s diseases and ulcerative colitis are the two main inflammatory bowel diseases.
Symptoms that are common to both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
- Reduced appetite
- Unintended weight loss
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a collection of signs that causes abdominal discomfort and pain. It is a chronic condition that must be managed well, or else it may turn life-threatening. Initially, it is still manageable with modifications in the diets and lifestyle habits. Some people, however, may experience severe symptoms and need treatment.
IBS symptoms usually include:
- abdominal pain or cramps
- mucous in the stool
Appendicitis occurs due to the obstruction in the appendix, often by tumor, infection, or sometimes by stool. Appendicitis requires immediate medical intervention to prevent the inflamed appendix from bursting out. If this happens, inflammation may grow into other parts of the abdominal cavity.
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins around the anus or in the lower rectum at the end of the large intestine. Hemorrhoids can be internal 9inside the rectum) or external (under the skin around the anus).
IBS symptoms usually include:
- bleeding during bowel movements
- pain or discomfort around the anus
- swelling around the anus
- a lump near the anus
- leakage of stool
Most hemorrhoids may not cause some serious discomfort and are treatable with over-the-counter medications, while some may need an intense treatment approach.
It is a condition in which the surface of the small intestine gets damaged by a substance called gluten in the diet. If you have celiac disease, your immune system reacts by damaging the small intestine.
Symptoms usually include:
- lactose intolerance
- loose, bulky, and bad-smelling stools
- nausea or vomiting
- abdominal pain
Poor digestive system is often a sign of an inappropriate lifestyle and eating habits. Eating junk and fast food disturbs the functioning of the organs. Fast eating, not just fast food, elevates the risk of acid reflux after meals. Research confirms that those who eat quickly or more juk likely suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Besides, an unhealthy lifestyle, which means not doing any physical workout, sleeping just after meals, and day sleep, usually affects your digestion. As per Ayurveda, these habits result in the weakening of Agni or Agnimandya. Poor agni cannot digest food easily and so problems can be experienced.
Factors responsible for digestion problems
- Overeating: Eating mindlessly and not paying attention to your hunger or requirement is also a cause of poor digestion. The excess eaten food has to be stored in the stomach, which has limited storage. This burdens the stomach, and the food is not digested properly, resulting in acidity.
- Eating too many meals: It is a generalized myth that frequent meals of less quantity are a good idea than to eat in one go. But this is not true. Normal meals take 3 to 5 hours to digest food, and till that, it stays in the stomach. If we eat anything in between, previously undigested food will stay in the stomach and create toxins and acidity in the stomach.
- Biological clocks: Ayurveda is of the viewpoint that our body should work in synchronization with the environment. It is recommended that Agni is strongest when the sun is at its peak, around 12 to 2 p.m. So, the heaviest meal of the day should be around this time. Likewise, heavy dinner should be avoided. If you eat before just bedtime, it depletes your agni, and you experience constipation due to toxins in the body.
- Eating lying down: How you eat food is also associated with digestion. When you opt for a sitting posture for eating, it improves digestion and your awareness of food. Eating lying down is also a cause of bad digestion because your stomach is not relaxed at this time.
Ayurvedic treatment for digestive conditions
In Ayurveda, weak or poor digestion is known as Agnimandya. Depletion in Agni, digestive fire cannot convert nutrients to energy or life-sustaining Ojas. If your digestion is not good, likely you will feel weak to lead a healthy life.
So, ayurvedic treatment usually works focuses on improving this digestion fire to boost digestion. Ayurveda has potential herbs for indigestion problems, which are used in the medicines customized as per the requirement of the individuals.
AyuKarma believes in the life values of individuals and curates treatments that are empathic to health-specific.