31 Aug Improve Your Digestion to Boost Your Energy
Do you remember the saying: “you are what you eat”? Is it really true?
I’d say no. More accurately, I’d say “you are what you absorb”.
It’s sad to think that you can be eating the world’s healthiest foods and not deriving any benefits by eating healthy if you cannot absorb the nutrients in the food. So what does that mean?
It means that many people suffer from poor digestion. In fact, your ability to digest what you eat is really the cornerstone to your state of health. Unfortunately, most people are not able to absorb the nutrients that they consume, contributing to what I call being overfed and undernourished. So you can end up eating a completely healthy diet, yet still feel exhausted, like you’re lacking stamina, have fuzzy memory or a foggy brain, sleep poorly and wake up never feeling rested or constantly feeling like you have a big tire in your belly.
Digestion is a complex process of biochemical and physical processes that I talk more about & teach how to correct in the The Art of Living program.
The point I’d like to make here about digestion, is that many folks suffer from weak or low stomach acid which inhibits their ability to absorb and digest nutrients from their food. Large pharmaceutical companies will attempt to convince you otherwise. They want you to believe that stomach acid is bad and that too much stomach acid is the cause of acid reflux or GERD. They entice you to buy their antacids to lower the production of your stomach acid. When in fact, most people need stronger stomach acid to facilitate proper digestion. Minerals require an acidic environment to be properly absorbed and digested, not a less acid environment.
You may ask then, how do I produce enough stomach acid to digest food properly? The best place to start is by ensuring that you are drinking plenty of filtered water each day to ensure you have the building blocks to produce HcL (stomach acid). I talk more about proper hydration in my program, but on average, aim for 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day. Getting digestive enzymes from living foods like fresh vegetables & fruits in their raw state or in juices supports healthy stomach acid production as well. You can also take apple cider vinegar before meals or supplement with plant based digestive enzymes to help boost HcL production quickly and effectively.
Taking probiotics also contributes positively to your ability to digest and absorb nutrients. The importance of good gut flora (or friendly bacteria) is often overlooked and very simple to correct to help with optimal digestion. Here’s the fix: Take probiotics regularly to restore your digestive tract with friendly bacteria. Don’t be health washed into thinking that yogurt will do the trick. Most yogurts are pasteurized, meaning all the good bacteria is killed in the pasteurization process.
Lastly, adding Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’a) to your diet or regime will assist in digestive function and overall optimal health. If you think about the route food has to take as it enters, absorbs in to and leaves the body, you’ll notice it’s a long journey. There are many factors that can slow down or impair the movement of food through the digestive tract. Good fats, like omega 3 provide lubrication to keep the food moving smoothly through the intestines and bowels opposed to allowing the food to ferment and releasing harmful toxins if not properly digested.
These good fats are essential and provide a multitude of health benefits, but the body cannot produce them, so they must be obtained through your daily diet. If you chose to supplement with omega oils, ensure that you choose a formula with high amount of EPA & DHA in enteric coated capsules or my preference is in a liquid state. Keep the container in your refrigerator to avoid the fishy aftertaste or the unfortunate repeat effect. If you’re vegan, there is no reason to avoid EFA’s. You can obtain your EFAs from algae instead. It’s the same stuff the fish eat. You won’t get as high doses of DHA & EPA, but you’ll at least get some good quality Omega 3s.
If you’re looking to add these supplements to your daily regime, here are some of my favourite digestive support supplements that you can look for on shelves or have directly to your door.
The Importance of Digestion
The digestion process is one the most important aspects of an individuals health. One’s ability to take in food and transform it into useable energy and eliminate what is not needed. Good digestion really is an indication of good health.
Although the functions of the digestive system sound simple – carry food through the digestive tract, break down food into useable components and eliminate waste – it really is a complex process. Digestion begins before we even put food in to our mouths. The thought, sound, smell, sight, feel and taste triggers the body to prepare for the arrival of food. As these senses are engaged, the secretion of saliva stimulates the flow of gastric juices and release of insulin, preparing the body for the work that is coming – to digest food. The digestive system is one track in the body starting at the mouth and ending at the rectum.
Digestion is the one component that is so critical to sustaining, maintaining and improving your overall health. No matter how well you eat, if your digestive system isn’t breaking down nutrients in your food, your body can’t get what it needs to keep you healthy. It is impossible to be in good health with poor digestion.
How It Works
- When you smell your food, your brain identifies the food in its database and sends a message to your gut to begin producing the right enzymes to prepare to breakdown what’s coming down.
- When you chew your food, you break it down into digestible particles. The enzymes in your saliva begin to break down your food the moment you begin to chew and send a signal to your gut that food is coming.
- Stomach acid breaks apart your food even more, making it easier for the probiotics and enzymes in your intestines to finish the job.
- In the small intestine, the probiotics and enzymes extract the nutrients from the food, allowing the blood to pick up the nutrients it needs.
- Your intestine is also responsible for blocking unwanted substances (chemicals, bacteria and large molecules) from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Your Pancreas is also responsible for producing enzymes to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates. It will also secrete insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Your Liver is responsible for various roles: manufactures bile to breakdown fats, makes and breaks down many hormones, regulates blood sugar levels, processes all foods, nutrients, alcohol and drugs in the bloodstream and stores or eliminates them.
- Your Gallbladder stores and concentrates bile that was produced by the liver to emulsify fat, cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Your Large Intestine is responsible to form stools for elimination by absorbing the remaining water and nutrients. Stools are formed, pushed down to rectum and held until sufficient volume is accumulated to have a bowel movement.
If you are experiencing gas, bloating, burping, reflux, headaches, fatigue after eating, constant hunger, bowel irregularity, muscle or joint pains, you may want to pay attention to the following:
- Where you eat and how you eat really make a difference. If you are stressed, anxious, hurried, nervous, angry or multitasking while eating digestion can be impaired or suppressed.
- If you are not chewing food to a liquid state, it allows unwanted substances to enter the blood stream – a condition called leaky gut.
- Large un-chewed particles of food can pass into the bloodstream from intestinal tract and contribute to various problems and conditions (hiatal hernia, heartburn, skin problems, food sensitivities, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, etc)
Because of the Standard America Diet (SAD), many people have low stomach acid. Lack of stomach acid can inhibit the breakdown of proteins causing heartburn and ulcer-like symptoms. These symptoms often cause you to turn to anti-acids which can lead to further suppressed production of stomach acid.
If you do not have adequate fibre and water intake, it can lead to constipation and slower transit time. The nervous and digestive system are closely connected. Every state of mind is experienced by the digestive tract. Emotions, thoughts can affect and impair the digestion process as well.
The time it takes from when you eat a food until it comes out should be about 12 – 24 hours.
- Less than 12 hours is too fast and you may not be absorbing the nutrients in your food.
- More than 24 hours is too slow and waste being stored for long periods causes reabsorption of harmful substances or fermentation.
Want to know your transit time?
- Take the beet test. Eat 2 – 3 beets, track the time that you ate them and track the time when you see red in your stool.
- Increase fibre intake (more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds), drink more water and exercise regularly. Don’t worry we will be talking all about water, fibre and exercise in upcoming modules.
- Assess your current state of digestion by completing our “Lifestyle Checklist”
5 TIPS FOR OPTIMAL DIGESTION
- Drink room temperature water away from meals, ideally 30 minutes before and one hour after. If necessary, only sip small amounts of water while eating
- Prepare your own meals in a calm and attentive state. Be aware of the aromas, textures, sounds, tastes, visual appeal of food before consuming it. Sit at a table while eating and refrain from doing anything else (reading, watching TV, using technical devices, etc.)
- Eat in a relaxed, calm and mindful state. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Swallow only when each mouthful is turned into a paste. Take a moment before eating to take a few deep breaths and be grateful.
- Don’t skip meals and be sure to eat at least every 5-7 hours to sustain even energy levels and avoid snacking in between meals (this keeps insulin levels low). Plan ahead and carry food with you, if necessary. This will also help balance your blood sugar. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Do not eat to a point of feeling stuffed.
- Consume nothing 2 hours before bed.
If you’d like to know more about digestive enzymes and if they can help, you can read about that here.
And here’s a natural digestive aide recipe here for you.
Or if you’re tired of trying to figure things out on your own, let’s see if I can help you in a FREE no pressure or obligation 30 Minute Energy Assessment Call.