National Geographic : 1949 Nov
IID IGESIO T HE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM has been called "na I ture's most wonderful chemical laboratory." Throughout life, the vitality and strength of every part of the body depend largely upon how well this laboratory does its work. Esophagus Stomach SPancreas Gall " Bladder large Intestine .Small Intestine Sometimes, however, the digestive processes fail to function properly. This may be due to faulty eating habits, infections, fatigue, food allergies, emotional disturbances and other causes and may lead to minor as well as serious digestive disorders. In fact, studies show that digestive troubles are more common than any other ailments except those of the respiratory system. 1. Avoid eating when rushed or when emo tionally upset. 2. Keep the teeth in good condition so that food may be chewed thoroughly. 3. Drink adequate amounts of water (six to eight glasses a day) and establish regular habits of elimination. 4. Do not eat too much or too often. 5. Cultivate an appetite for a wide variety of foods, especially those that are rich in the essential nutritional elements. 6. Avoid strenuous exercise immediately after eating. 7. Do not resort to self-treatment. If digestive complaints persist, consult the doctor. Modern medicine has developed many in struments and tests which help the doctor to diagnose digestive disorders with great accu racy. For instance, X-rays permit the doctor to follow "test meals" throughout the digestive system and to observe the position, size, shape, and movements of the digestive tract. In addi tion, chemical tests and analyses give him es sential information about whether the digestive organs are functioning properly. Some digestive conditions are so trivial that they can often be corrected by surprisingly simple measures, such as eliminating trouble making foods from the diet. Others are serious and, if allowed to progress, may affect general health, and require prolonged dietary restric tions or surgery. So, it is always wise to seek medical advice for persistentdigestive complaints such as pain, nausea, "indigestion," or even continued lack of appetite. The doctor, in most cases, can quickly discover the causes and suggest correc tive treatment that may help to insure better digestion and better health.