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Many of us are unaware of how complex our digestive system is and how best to look after it. By explaining some of the more basic functions of our digestive systems and some reasons as to how and why we may be hindering it can often shine a light on a health issue you have becoming more acutely aware of. Knowing how your digestive system works is the first step to enable you to start troubleshooting your gut-rooted problems (which is actually most health problems!).


The Basics

Our digestive system works mainly to turn food into usable nutrients and to excrete waste products from that process but it doesn’t stop there. We are discovering more every day about just how complex and delicate this system is. The effectiveness of our digestion dictates everything from the way our skin looks to our brain activity and moods, and is also an integral piece in autoimmune disorders and the switching on or off of genes. Basically the health in your gut manifests itself as the the health you see outwardly from energy levels to migraines.

Our ancestors worked really hard for their food, and therefore realised the value in it. Food wasn’t a secondary thought nor was it wasted. However, today many of us have moved away from traditional meal times we eat on the go and portion sizes have become far larger. As well as this, we eat highly processed foods and even though we are eating more, the nutritional value we are getting is far lower. We are constantly distracted, and no longer think of food as being particularly important because most of us have never been without it, we live in the first age of history where you hear people complain when they are advised to adopt a healthier diet.

So why should we care?

When our digestive health is not optimal, we get tired really easily, our skin breaks out with things like spots or splotches, we get bloated, gain weight, become malnourished, our immune systems can’t keep up with the ‘go go go’ lifestyle we choose to live, we develop strange illnesses or autoimmunity, and we simply can’t do what we should be able to do – be it physically, mentally, or emotionally. Ultimately when our digestive system is unable to effectively digest, absorb and excrete we can begin to feel pretty sick and tired.

Why does this happen?

When our digestion is compromised – whether by stress, distraction, loneliness, over-stimulation, food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances, or lack of nutrition in our food choices – it can result in damaged gut linings. This can include poor microbiota populations, poor absorption of nutrients and minerals, disrupted signalling to the brain and various cells, compromised evacuation of waste products, and strain on organs like the liver or kidneys. All this, in turn, can result in illness and disease. For example, so many of us are used to being bloated after a meal that we don’t even think about it as a problem – but it is not normal! That is a signal from the body that there’s a problem and we need to do something about it so that we can get back to optimal function and well-being.

The body wants to be well and knows how to do it, we just need to listen! We have an analogy here at Ancestral Health: Listen to your body’s whispers before it begins to scream. Your body is amazing and has an incredible capacity for healing, you can start listening to it and honouring your body’s messages, heal your digestive issues, and start living optimally again.