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Brought to you from the NEEDS Wellness Team

Proper digestion is one of the major foundations of good health. We must have the ability to break foods down into basic nutrients, absorb those nutrients, and excrete waste in a timely manner. As basic as this sounds, a large proportion of the population cannot do this effectively. Without proper digestion, we are more prone to malnutrition, invasion of bad bacteria or yeast, food allergies, buildup of toxins, weakened immune systems, high cholesterol, hemorrhoids, bloating, flatulence, diverticulosis, heartburn, and even cancer.

Many of us don't produce enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes to efficiently break down the food we eat. This is easily remedied with supplemental digestive enzymes, taken at the time of meals. Enzymes with a broad spectrum of activity are usually best. These help to break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Supplements, with the addition of hydrochloric acid, are usually recommended unless a person has heartburn or ulcers.

Maintaining healthy intestines is necessary for the proper absorption of nutrients and for the prevention of bad bacteria or to prevent yeast from taking hold. A diet low in animal protein and high in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes help this tremendously. Additionally, supplementation with probiotics, or "good bacteria" such as acidophilus and bifidus, can be invaluable to proper digestion and protection against bad bacteria or yeast. If you suspect you have bad bacteria or yeast, you can expedite their removal with products that have antimicrobial herbs and nutrients.

Fiber, from foods or supplements, not only helps to maintain the health of the intestines, but also binds toxins and cholesterol excreted into the intestines by the liver via the gallbladder. If these toxins and cholesterol are not bound and carried out, they will reabsorb into the body further down the intestinal tract and could result in an extra burden on the liver.

Fiber also helps promote regular bowel movements. A person should have a bowel movement at least once a day. If this doesn't happen, intestinal inflammation, an imbalance of good bacteria, and poor detoxifying abilities may result. Always drink at least eight, eight ounce glasses of filtered water when eating a diet high in fiber or when taking fiber supplements. If fiber and water alone aren't enough to encourage daily bowel movements, prune juice or products that have mildly stimulating herbs and nutrients (such as magnesium oxide or hydroxide) should be used.

Healthy digestion is fundamental to sustained health. With the right knowledge and the right tools, you can be proactive and take charge of your health!