Welcome to a Healthier Life
The term Digestion covers all the activities of the digestive tract, involving preparing food to be absorbed by the body and the rejection of its residues. Whatever foods are ingested, the remains should be exported, preferably within a period of 24 hours. If this does not happen, we may well experience problems.
The preliminary chemical breakdown of food takes place in the mouth, before it passes to the stomach. The digestive tract has to cope with many foodstuffs and it is often grossly overworked, especially when we don’t chew our food properly, thus placing even more of a burden on the digestion. Our choice of food too often lacks the proper composition, hence the importance of sensible food combining.
When food has arrived at the lower end of the oesophagus, it passes through a valve – the cardiac sphincter – that controls entry to the stomach. The sphincter is an opening with a circular set of muscles. When there is too much contraction, possibly resulting from excess stress or tension, the sphincter may not function correctly and therefore will not allow free entry of the food into the passageway. Indigestive discomfort is the result, manifesting itself as burping, flatulence or heartburn. These are not only uncomfortable experiences, but are also considered unsociable. Stomach gas, derived from air swallowed with food or drink, builds up in the upper part of the stomach until the cardiac sphincter allows it to escape into the oesophagus.
The important function of the stomach is to act as a store for ingested food, and the stomach – which consists of a J-shaped bag – can be divided into three parts; the cardiac area, the fundic area and the pyloric area. The three areas are completely distinct from one another, and the whole stomach has a muscular wall enabling it to produce a churning action, which breaks up food and ensures a beneficial chemical breakdown. The muscular contraction depends on the nervous system, in particular the vagus nerve. It also controls the production and secretion of digestive juices. Its effectiveness is subject to the correct acid and alkaline balance. Hydrochloric acid (HCL), an important factor in the digestion of food, is present and the stomach can produce a large amount of this strong acid.
In my book Nature’s Gift of Food I stress the fact that the acid-alkaline system deserves our attention. Too much or too little acid can cause problems, and a balance should be maintained. What we need to understand is that if we keep our food as natural as possible, we have a better chance of maintaining this balance. One of the best foods for balancing the acid-alkaline system is rice.
Another natural substance that acts as an excellent balancer, especially if there is too much wind in the stomach, is the cornflower – Centaurium umbellatum. Centaurium is one of the most helpful herbs for stomach or indigestion problems. Alfred Vogel recommended Centaurium for the treatment of digestive irregularities, lack of appetite, a weak and/or sour stomach, and for inflammation of the mucous membranes of the stomach.