Folk wisdom about digestion is often wrong

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What really helps digestion

Many people suffer from heartburn, bloating, and bloating after eating. Some people then rely on old home remedies such as herb schnapps or an espresso to stimulate digestion. However, many of these supposed digestive aids do not have the desired effect. Medicinal plants and herbs are usually the better choice.

Alcohol slows digestion
A team of researchers from the University Hospital Zurich headed by Mark Fox recently investigated the digestive effects of alcohol in an opulent meal. Because one of the most well-known folk wisdom on the topic of digestion is the "snap it after".

For their randomized, controlled study, the gastroenterologists and legal practitioners had twenty healthy volunteers ingested cheese fondue. For this purpose, either 300 milliliters of white wine or tea and 20 milliliters of cherry brandy or water were drunk. Based on alcohol breath tests and analysis of gastric emptying, it was found that the time until the meal came from the stomach into the small intestine was significantly shorter if the subjects consumed tea and water instead of the alcoholic drinks. All subjects had the same appetite, although this was reduced in the group of study participants who had drunk wine and schnapps. Alcohol therefore had no effect on the tolerance of the cheese fondue. The researchers therefore recommend tea instead of alcohol for the Swiss favorite dish. The alcohol "apparently relaxes the muscles of the stomach walls intensively and thereby inhibits the pumping movements that move the stomach contents forward," Fox suspects. "But this effect is countered by a significantly delayed gastric emptying."

Herbs and spices for digestive problems Despite the clear results of the Swiss researchers, a herbal schnapps after eating can still stimulate digestion. Because in addition to alcohol, the “little clear thing afterwards” contains traditional medicinal herbs such as caraway, artichoke, chamomile, anise or ginger, which have been shown to help with indigestion, bloating and abdominal pain. Alcohol is a better carrier medium for these substances than hot water. If the herbs are given in the form of tea, the essential oils are often already evaporated.

Anise, cloves, ginger and cardamom can be used not only in drinks but also when baking, in soups or sauces. They increase appetite and the production of digestive juices. With fennel, caraway seeds, coriander and garlic, bloating can be prevented. Basil, thyme, juniper, rosemary, lovage, marjoram and oregano are less well known but very effective for stimulating digestion. For the latter, researchers were able to demonstrate an anti-flatulence effect. In a test with cows, it was found that the animals released up to 40 percent less methane when they ate feed enriched with oregano. In humans, oregano also means that digestion is accompanied by reduced methane production.

Stimulating digestion with tea Some natural medicinal plants can be prepared very well as tea. This includes, for example, peppermint, whose menthol quickly combines with the water. Calcium ions are channeled into the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract via the essential oil, which relax on the one hand, but on the other hand maintain sufficient tension to ensure the transport of the food. Australian researchers have also shown that menthol has a soothing effect on over-stimulated receptors in the digestive tract. The essential oil behaves according to a similar principle when used externally in the area of ​​the temples for headaches.

Preparations of sage, horehorn herb, angelica root, lemon balm, bitter clover, turmeric, yarrow or cinnamon bark stimulate muscle tone and stimulate the organs to exercise more. Bitter medicinal plants also ensure that sufficient stomach acid, bile juice and pancreatic enzymes are produced. Aloe, gentian, wormwood and rhubarb root can be prepared as tea or, according to "Maria Treben", drunk with other medicinal plants as "little bittersweet".

Caffeinated drinks can mobilize the stomach and intestines to move, but this does not apply to all drinks that contain the stimulating alkaloid. Studies have shown that coffee and tea have only a weak stimulating effect due to caffeine on digestion. Espresso is more digestible than filter coffee because it contains less caffeine and acids.

Cola also contains too little acid and caffeine, for example to break down a piece of meat, as is often mistakenly assumed.

Bitter substances stimulate digestion Digestion begins with the sight, smell and taste of a dish, when gastric juice production starts early due to irritation of the vagus nerve. Above all, bitter taste notes on the tongue have a stimulating effect. Special herb mixtures in the form of granules can therefore be chewed for about a minute just before eating to promote digestion.

Certain salads and raw food also stimulate digestion before the warm course. The more bitter the salads, the better for digestion. Endive salad and chicory are suitable, for example. Certain substances in the endive leaves stimulate the pancreas and bile flow by activating hormone substances in the gastric mucosa. That is why chicory is particularly recommended for those with sluggish liver and bile function. Dandelions and nettles are also good as wild salads to promote digestion.

Basically, all dishes should be chewed long and thoroughly in the mouth so that the effects of herbs, spices and salads develop optimally and digestion can be stimulated.

Helping the digestion with walks The Mannheim internist Manfred Singer examined, among other things, the effect of exercise on the digestion. It turned out that walking had a positive effect, but sporting activity such as Nordic walking or jogging had a negative effect. Because those who do sports with a full stomach pull the blood from the digestive tract into the muscles and cause too much movement in the stomach. The result can be side stitches.

Nevertheless, exercise after eating should not be completely avoided, as a Japanese research team led by study leader Yasuhiro Fujiwara from Osaka University found. According to this, a nap within the first three hours after a meal increases the risk of heartburn by more than seven times compared to subjects who did not lie down until four hours later. The “backflow of gastric acid into the esophagus” is promoted by the horizontal body position, according to Fujiwara.

Digestion from the point of view of naturopathy In naturopathy, special attention is paid to functioning digestion, since it is associated with physical and mental health and a stable defense system. If indigestion occurs, sufferers often suffer from unpleasant accompanying symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, pain and feelings of tension in the area of ​​the abdomen, constipation and diarrhea. If the digestive problems are not treated, bacterial overgrowth of the intestinal flora can occur. As a result, permeability of the intestinal mucosa and food intolerance can arise. A well-known example of this is lactose intolerance.

If the intestinal flora is contaminated, digestive disorders can also develop, for example if food residues are not completely broken down and broken down due to a lack of bacteria. Affected people often experience severe flatulence.

From the point of view of naturopathy, permanent digestive problems are associated with a general deficiency in defense. Because large parts of the immune system are in the intestine. It is also said to favor the development of allergies, skin and autoimmune diseases and cancer. (sb)

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