Side effects of poor digestion

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“You are what you eat” is a common phrase. However good health is in part at least, determined by how well your body digests the food you put in, and the nutrients it can draw out. Even the healthiest of diets may sometimes leave you feeling digestive discomfort although it’s less likely.

The digestive system breaks down food and delivers nutrients to every cell in the body via the bloodstream. It converts the foods we eat into their simplest forms, such as glucose (sugars), amino acids (protein break down) or fatty acids (that make up fats).1 If you have poor digestive function, the process of breaking foods down and absorbing the nutrients is compromised which means you’re not going to be getting the most out of your food.

A digestive system functioning poorly has lost some of its ability to turn what’s consumed into a form that the body can use.2 This may result in nutrient deficiencies which can have an impact on many aspects of health.

General signs and symptoms of poor digestion may include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Flatulence

Nutrient deficiencies caused by poor digestion may also result in a feeling of fatigue, pale skin, unusual food cravings, hair loss, poor concentration,3 compromised immune system, weak bones, low energy, low mood and weak nails.

Different areas of the body require specific nutrients to function at their best. If the required nutrients aren’t digested and absorbed by the body properly due to poor digestive health, their ability to function as they should in the body is compromised. For this reason it’s important to remember that good nutrition in conjunction with a healthy digestive system are essential to good health. For example, iron and B vitamins are important for energy production and healthy blood cells, vitamin D and calcium are essential for strong healthy bones, vitamin A is crucial for eye health and vitamin C and zinc are important for the immune system. Eating well is great, but we have to ensure our digestive system is working well so we’re able to absorb and utilize the good food we’re consuming.

If you’re reviewing your food habits and digestive system, ensure you consider both what you’re consuming and importantly, how well your body is digesting what you’re feeding it.

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Published June 3, 2014
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