You may have heard the phrase before, “You are what you eat”. While it is important to pay attention to what you put in your body, it is more accurate to say “You are what you break down and absorb”.
In other words, it does not matter if you eat the most nutrient dense whole foods, eat only organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meats etc. if your body is incapable of fully utilizing its nutrients. Truly good health is impossible without being able to break down, absorb, and utilize the nutrients that you put into your body. In fact, foods that you do not digest well, including even so called healthy foods, can become food for a wide variety pathogens and other bad guys we don’t want living in our gut and can contribute to inflammation in the body.
Eliminating problematic foods is step number one in healing the gut and improving digestion but it doesn’t stop there. In addition to eliminating problematic foods, here are some other practical simple things you can do to get the most out of the foods you are eating.
Relax: When you are stressed, digestion is not the main priority to your body. Instead, the body is more concerned about managing the stress at hand. Stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, send energy-rich blood to feed the nerves, muscles, heart and brain at the expense of supporting digestive function. Chronic stress also reduces an important gastrointestinal tract immune protein called secretory IgA, making it easier for food allergens and pathogens to enter into the blood stream which leads to inflammation. So, sit down, breathe deeply, and give thanks. Avoid eating while on the run if possible.
Chew your food well: This is a very underestimated function of digestion and is one that most people have to make a conscious effort to work on in the fast-paced world we live in. Chewing well allows food to mix thoroughly with digestive enzyme-rich saliva, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is what calms us, allowing the body to focus on digestion. Chewing well also slows down the entire eating process, allowing time for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full so you don’t eat more than you need to. Aim to chew your food until it becomes a liquid in your mouth.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar: Drinking a glass of water mixed with 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar 15 minutes before meals will help stimulate Hydrochloric Acid (HCl). HCl plays a vital role in protein digestion by converting pepsinogen into the enzyme pepsin which breaks down protein into amino acids. It also stimulates the pancreas to release digestive enzymes and bile that help digest and absorb carbohydrates, fats and vitamins A and E. Start with just 1 tsp. at first and then build up to 1 Tablespoon before meals. Make sure to buy raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother.
If you are still experiencing health complaints after making lifestyle and nutrition changes, the next step would include functional lab work to look further into the integrity of your gut. You can visit my webpage for more information.