We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”. More accurately, we are what we eat, and are able to digest and assimilate. If we aren’t digesting properly, we aren’t getting all the nutrients from our food. Improper digestion can be the beginning of all sorts of health problems. 70-80% of our immune system is located along our digestive tract, so healthy digestion supports a healthy immune system too.
Did you know that when functioning optimally our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid (HCL)? It sounds a little scary, but HCL is really important to healthy digestion. It helps digest proteins in food, kill unwanted bacteria (which are little proteins) and even helps us be able to use important minerals like calcium. Many people don’t produce enough HCL due to stress, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or even excess consumption of refined carbohydrates.
Here are some easy and inexpensive things you can do to aid digestion:
Relax. Take a moment before you eat to take a breath, sit down and enjoy the food you are about to eat. Relaxing puts you in the parasympathetic state of your autonomic nervous system which is necessary for digestion to occur. The parasympathetic state is our fight or flight state and digestion is not made a priority. Avoid eating while stressed or on the go.
Chew. Chew your food 30 times. Yes, I know this seems like a lot! But trust me, it is worth it. Chewing well can prevent all sorts of digestive problems further down in the digestive system including imbalanced gut bacteria and leaky gut, which can lead to autoimmune conditions. Try putting down your fork between bites. This can help you slow down and pay attention to how you are eating.
Get your digestive juices flowing before you eat. There are several ways to do this. One way is by mixing 1-2 tbs of raw apple cider vinegar in 4 oz. room temperature water. Drink 5 minutes before your eat. You can also do the same with lemon juice in water. Another option is to use a tincture of digestive bitters. You can find them at your local health food store or online.
Digestion is fundamental to optimal health. It is one of the 6 Foundations that Nutritional Therapy is based upon. Every cell, that makes up every tissue, that makes up every organ depends on the body’s digestive system to deliver the nutrients it requires to function. Healthy cells= healthy tissues= healthy organs= healthy us. It all starts with digesting the foods we eat.
Here are just a few of the symptoms that tell you your digestion is not functioning optimally; heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, nausea and gas.