Your Digestive System: A Powerful Source of Health

Your Digestive System: A Powerful Source of Health

Publish Date September 20, 2022 4 Minute Read
Author Ensure

While digestive health doesn't make the best topic for a dinner party, it may be the right topic to discuss with your physician.

Some of the most common digestive complaints are constipation, diarrhea and gas…issues that affect many of us periodically. Sometimes these "everyday" issues are cause for concern – they may be indicative of disease or a poorly functioning digestive system that can lead to serious health problems. Discussing these symptoms with your physician can lead to helpful treatments (or screening for diseases such as colon cancer), and can help to prevent other serious illnesses.

Signs of Digestive System Health and Distress

It's important to understand the signs of a well-working digestive system, along with the signs of a digestive system in distress.

When a digestive system is in working order, you'll experience regularity. That means having a bowel movement that's not too soft or too hard, anywhere from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Everyone has a different frequency.1

Irregularity, such as constipation or diarrhea, can be caused by a poor diet – including not drinking enough water or eating enough fiber – and a number of other issues. When your digestive system is functioning properly, you won't have excessive diarrhea or constipation, and you won't have excessive gas either. Most people produce about 1 to 4 pints of gas a day, and release it 14 times a day,2 but any more than this can be cause for concern.

Why Is Digestive System Health So Important?

Another cause of digestive problems is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the colon. Poor diet, disease and certain medications (such as antibiotics) can disturb this delicate balance, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria. The result may be intolerable digestive symptoms or infections that can make you very sick.

Poor digestive health is also associated with illnesses in other parts of the body, including immune system issues. Your digestive system contains 70% of your body's immune system — that's just one sign of the importance it has in your overall health.

How to Keep Your Digestive System Healthy

One way to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract is to take prebiotics. Prebiotics help to sustain the balance of bacteria in your colon by stimulating the growth of good bacteria. While probiotics are live bacteria that, when consumed, have a helpful effect on body function, prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that selectively promote the growth of these helpful bacteria. One particularly well-researched source of prebiotics is the ingredient FOS (fructooligosaccharides), found naturally in certain foods such as bananas, onions and garlic.

All in all, digestive health is a significant part of your overall health. So be sure to consult your physician about the best ways to keep your gut in top shape.


1 National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, (NDDIC), NIH.
2 National Institutes of Health, “Gas.”