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People talk about having "cast iron" stomachs, and we often treat our digestive organs like an old iron furnace. But in reality, our digestive machinery is complex and very delicate.
During the average person's lifetime, some 90,000 pounds of food and 55,000 quarts of fluid are processed by our digestive systems. This machinery was custom designed by our Creator for maximum efficiency and endurance. Unfortunately, about one out of every four people has some kind of digestive problem.
Indigestion can be cause by frequent eating, overeating, eating too fast, eating highly salted or spiced foods, or simply eating too much food. Studies with pilots show that goods high in salt and protein, like meat, cheese and chips, tend to upset the stomach, while starchy foods like bread, cereal, and potatoes can have a calming effect. Another common cause of stomach problems and ulcers is the sue of aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Also at the top of the gastritis and ulcer-causing list are tobacco, coffee, sugar, and alcohol. Even aspartame can cause stomach upset. By the way, chronic indigestion and ulcers are a significant cause of depression and personality disorders.
Stomach cancer is on the rise in the United States, and researchers are beginning to discover that a poor diet of lifestyle can be the culprit. One recent hospital study found that patients who smoked and who had diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol were more likely to have stomach cancer. Several recent studies have linked esophageal cancer1 with the eating of pickled vegetables. Other ways to increase your risk of throat cancer include eating highly salted foods, drinking tea or alcohol, smoking, drinking soups or drinks at very hot temperatures, and eating very few fruits and vegetables. It is a well know fact that black pepper increase the risk of stomach cancer. Now new research on capsaicin, or red hot pepper, brings some new "heat" to the topic. A study conducted in Mexico City showed that consumers of red pepper were at a high risk for gastric cancer. On the other hand, those with a diet high in fruits and vegetables had less risk of digestive cancer.
Snacking and late-night eating can really set off some gastrointestinal fire-works. Eating between meals can delay the digestive process for hours, causing indigestion and fatigue. Do you think you need those snacks? Try switching to a high-fiber diet, and you may find that your cravings disappear. Many studies have shown that late-night eating increases the risk of cancer, and even results in higher cholesterol. Also, nighttime eating may reset the body clock and give you an "owl," or late, pattern of sleeping rather than the "lark" pattern. Late-night eating can also cause gastro esophageal reflux, a condition where gastric acid backflows into the throat. This results in sore throat, wheezing, coughing, and hoarseness. Going to bed with a stomach full of food is a sure way to "fire up" your digestive organs!
Some wonder cures for upset stomachs include raw cabbage juice, charcoal tablets, ginger tea, aloe, slippery elm, mint tea, catnip tea, and plantain bananas. Frozen bananas whizzed in a blender (yum!) can also have a healing effect on an unhappy tummy.
And don't forget to eat on a regular schedule! Our loving Creator designed us to need regular meals at set times. He tells us through King Solomon, "Blessed are though, O land, when ... they princes eat in due season (at proper times), for strength, and not for drunkenness."2
Next time you're tempted to pull our that snack remember that what— and when—you eat can make a huge difference in your health and well-being!
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1. Cancer of the throat.
2. Ecclesiastes 10:17
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