Digestion doesn't begin in the stomach. It begins with us. In our mouth. Even before that - it begins in the kitchen.
In the food industry, our communities, our kitchens: we need to go back in time to go forward.
We need to think about foods grown close to home - and preparing them traditionally as much as we can.
A lot of us have digestive issues. Rather than listen to what our body tries to tell us, we often shut up our body even more.
How do we shut it up?
-pretending it means nothing
Often, we have symptoms related to digestion that no longer appear to come from our digestive system, because that system wasn't getting noticed - the symptoms move. If we don't listen to issues, they get worse or they move!
We have to understand that the body can only work with what we give it.
If its giving us signs that something is wrong, and we ignore it, it will try another way to tell us of problems. Something more painful, or something more serious.
It's just the way the body works.
First sign of troubles?
Tummy aches as a child or young adult.
Holistic Nutritionists' are all specialists in digestion - why do we talk about it so much?
What's all the fuss about....
Digestion is so important because:
Nutrient absorption depends on it
If we don't get the above, we simply can't function properly!
There are more than 400 different types of micro-organisms that call our large intestine home. We call these intestinal flora, most of them are friendly bacteria. When un-friendly bacteria take over, then we have an imbalance in the gut. This spells trouble.
How do we get imbalanced gut flora?
It starts at birth - babies who aren't born vaginally are at an immediate disadvantage missing out on getting immune system and gut bacteria aid from the mother's gut bacteria
Lifestyle habits such as increased used of antacids, aspirin, pain killers
Using antibacterial soap
Drinking chlorinated water
Pesticide and herbicide use
Slow Digestion + Intestinal Flora Imbalance = Bad Problems!
What happens when our intestinal membrane becomes irritated is it secretes a mucous as protection. (Good job body!) But if this intestine becomes even more irritated, inflammation results. During inflammation, intestinal holes become enlarged - this allows large, undigested protein chunks in which we know as 'leaky gut' and shows as allergies.
You can see how many of our health issues stem from an imbalanced gut and bad digestive habits.
I talk about fermented foods all the time.
But that's only ONE important part of a healthy diet.
Whole foods [Read: 5 Reasons You NEED Whole Foods] are the key to a well-rounded healthy diet. Fermented foods are a HUGE aid in digestion. Eaten therapeutically, we don't need a large amount of naturally fermented foods in our diet - just the consistency. A little bit each day.
How about yoga? That’s right, the way we move our body can also influence circulation through our digestive tract. Super important [Read: Why I Downward Dog: It’s Not What You Think]
What else can we do? Here are 7 ways to stoke the flames of your digestive fire....
1. Eat more raw food. Include a portion of each meal with a fresh, raw vegetable to add more enzymes to your meal, thus helping out your stomach!
2. Preparation is key. Make food more digestible by getting conscious of the way you prepare it. Not every recommendation works for everyone. Maybe you don't digest raw food well - always cook your veggies. Maybe raw food works well for you - prep more of those and have them ready in the fridge for snacking. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar into your salad dressings, and on roasted veggies to encourage stomachs' work. [Read: Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar]
3. Simple Herbals. Prepare a small amount of herbal teas (like organic peppermint!) to drink with meals to aid digestion. Don't drink lots of cold water with a meal.
5. Watch the Quality of your foods. Home cooked food such as hot soups, salads, casseroles, or grain and bean dishes will be nicer for your digestion, in place of processed foods like microwaved meals or white-bread sandwiches. Sugary-snack-type meals (store bought baking like cookies, buns, muffins, etc) are not supportive of healthy, easy digestion.
6. Chew well! Starting in the mouth, coating our food with saliva helps the breakdown process right away before we’ve even swallowed our food. Digestion begins in the kitchen and in the mouth.
7. Avoid drinking a lot of liquids with your meals. Many people drink a can of soda, a full glass of milk or juice with their meals. This is not ideal for healthy digestion. Not only is soda, milk and juice too highly processed, it lowers the enzyme count in your stomach, making it harder for your body to break down your meal.
I hope these TOOLS help you!
A lot of my clients come to me for their digestive issues, if you need coaching to choose the foods you know you need, and implement the lifestyle changes above, do yourself a solid and zip me some mail.