Indigestion, constipation, and bad breath are among the most common and frequent ailments to beset us. It’s hardly surprising when you consider how busily the digestive system works all day long, supplied with almost constant food and drink. The meals that we eat are often too late, too much, too quick, too spicy, too fatty, and low in fibre; our chosen drinks are often fizzy, or caffeine-based; none of which helps our digestive systems to function at their best.
In addition to including more wholefoods and fibre-rich fruit and vegetables in your diet, fresh juices can help to keep the digestive organs healthy and well-toned. Better digestion means that more nutrients will be absorbed too.
Bad breath can be the result of a number of things, including indigestion, constipation, illness, lack of food, dental decay, gum disease, and over-indulgence in rich, spicy food. As well as eating plenty of fibre-rich wholefoods to help the digestive process, some juices can help to freshen breath, especially parsley and carrot. Try these combinations.
Dilute with water if you prefer. Juice each ingredient then blend using a spoon.
3 large carrots
2 stalks celery
These juices help nourish this area of the body. They are rich in the В group of vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the mineral chlorine.
Here are some things that you can do to see how peristalsis works.
- Put a little oil or grease on a small marble. The oil or grease represents the slippery fluid called mucus which is produced by the walls of the gut. Mucus helps to lubricate the movement of food through the gut.
- Put the marble into one end of a short piece of rubber tubing.
- Hold the tube upright with the marble at the bottom.
- Pinch the tube below the marble so that it slides up inside the tube.
The food which we swallow is never usually as hard as a marble. However, it does need to be bulky so that the circular muscles in the gut wall have something to push against. It is for this reason that a healthy diet should contain enough fibrous food, often called fibre or roughage. The following foods contain a lot of roughage: wheat bran, whole (unrefined) cereals, peas, beans, raisins and spinach. If a diet contains very little fibre, food may take as long as a week (instead of about one to three days) to pass from the mouth to the anus.
Some scientists say that the diets of people in many developed countries, such as Britain and the USA, contain far too little fibre. It is possible that this lack of fibre in the diet is one reason for widespread ill-health. Fibrous foods generally contain less energy and more bulk than an equal amount of non-fibrous food. This makes people feel fuller and they do not have to eat so much before feeling satisfied. Enough fibre in the diet may help people to avoid becoming obese (overweight).
So, what’s the essenceof the process of digestion? Given a healthy diet and good teeth, what does the body do with the food which we eat?
Food enters the body through the mouth. Waste leaves the body in a number of ways. For example, it comes out as liquid from the bladder, called urine. Waste also leaves the body as solid material, through the anus, called faeces.
Many children accidentally swallow small objects such as coins or marbles. These objects come out in the faeces after about 24 hours.
What must there be between the mouth and the anus? What is true of human beings is likely to be true of other animals such as rats. When dead animals are opened up, a long tube is seen passing through the body. It passes from the mouth to the anus. This tube is called the gut, and is found in a very large number of different animals, including man. The food as it goes through a number of inner organs such as: anus, caecum, colon, duodenum, oesophagus (gullet), ileum, mouth, stomach, rectum.
In a living adult person, the total length of the gut, from mouth to anus, is about 10 metres (m). We are normally sitting upright when we eat, so it is easy to imagine that the food passes down the gut helped by the force of gravity.
A person can swallow food, including liquids, when placed upside down. However it is easy to choke when trying to do this. The gut is packed into the body in such a way that, in some parts, the food actually passes upwards over short distances. The process that pushes the food along from the mouth to the anus shown is called peristalsis.