Activate Your Digestion

Activate Your Digestion

What is all the fuss about Digestion? You are what you eat right?

Well there is some truth in that, but you are what you Absorb.

This starts with Digestion…  It is not just one part of your body that relies on this function, it’s your whole system.

Every cell, that makes up every tissue, which makes up every organ depends on your digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs to function properly.

You might be experiencing digestive issues such as bloating, sleepy after meals, acid reflux, strong sweat odour, change of moods, bad breath, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and so on.. It could be, that these symptoms have become part of your day and you can’t remember being any other way.

No matter what your digestion status, there is always room to help your body be the most sophisticated system that exists! The body knows exactly what to do when given the right nutrients.

Key Steps of Digestion

  • Nervous System (brain)
  • Chewing (mouth)
  • Mixing/Propulsion (moving food through the GI tract)
  • Breakdown of Nutrients (Stomach, Gallbladder, Pancreas)
  • Absorption (Intestines, Blood & Lymph)
  • Elimination (Cell to Cell Communication)

Digestion can only start in the Brain! Not the stomach. Not the mouth. Not the Intestines. It starts North and works it way South.

The focus of this guide is to look at the first steps of Digestion, mainly the brain, and then the mouth. This is where your digestive processes are activated to ensure your body can absorb the nutrients from your foods, and be assimilated throughout your body.

 

 

RELAX

Digestion is activated once the brain has time to calm down.

This is not a time to multi-task, work at your desk, watch tv, use technical devices, drive or be “on-the-go” mode.

Slow Down Your Breath

  1. Take 3-4 deep breaths before taking your first bite of food.
  2. Aim for your inhale to match your exhale. Once mastered, lengthen your exhale, example – inhale for 4, exhale for 6.
  3. We are a society of NOW, quick, fast! The brain acknowledges this as our sympathetic state, running from wolves!
  4. When eating foods in this state, the body cannot absorb the food. The body literally thinks an emergency is going on and is working hard internally to keep you alive.
  5. Take some moments to pause before you eat. Allow your brain to switch to your digestive mode, which is your parasympathetic state, a state of rest.

Create Atmosphere

  1. Create an atmosphere, that you can recognise it is your “slow” time.
  2. Light a candle, dim the light, spray your favourite fragrance, play soothing music.
  3. Experiment to find your own unique way.
  4. We are creatures of habit, once you have found what works for you, your body will be able to switch into your “slow” mode faster, the more you practise.

Visualise

  1. Visualise for those extra special meals and occasions!
  2. The thought of your favourite meal, can be enough to stimulate your salivary glands. The brain is so powerful, it will send the important signals south to prepare your organs to be ready for food.
  3. Use this technique for your favourite meal of your week.  You can also do this on a daily basis.

Give Thanks

  1. Take some moments to give thanks, or say Grace before you eat.
  2. This is also another way to switch to a restful state.
  3. When we focus on the good, this allows our brain to switch from constantly “doing-mode” to moments of appreciation.
  4. Give your brain a break!

Need an Extra-Boost?

  1. Still feeling wired or jittery?  Get close to the ground! It literally grounds you.
  2. Sitting on the ground to dine is perfectly ok, you may want to dine at a coffee table. Many cultures around the world eat this way, it encourages more intimate discussions by removing barriers of table and chairs. A good way to form bonds with your family and friends.

 

 

EMERGENCIES

When all else fails, we need a back-up plan!

  • Lay down on your couch, or your favourite place (I love my lounge floor or yoga mat), close your eyes for a few moments, take a couple of deep breaths, notice with each breath you start to slowly relax. This is one of the quickest ways to get your brain from hyper-activity to a state of rest.
  • Do a Handstand or a Headstand for those yoga lovers, just get upside-down. Childs pose is also very grounding, which involves bringing your forehead to rest on the ground.
  • There are also certain essential oils that stimulate the vagus nerve that can help calm you down, however if you are like me, super-sensitive to these, experiment with all the many tools above, which are completely free.

CHEW & ENJOYMENT

Teeth help our smile radiate and also have this important purpose, to CHEW!

Our stomach does not have teeth, therefore it is not much use swallowing food whole.

Tips

  • Between each mouthful, allow your cutlery to rest, just put it down!  Use this time to tell a joke or say something about your day.
  • When we chew, our saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste, so the more we chew, the cravings for something sweet after meal times disappears.
  • Chewing brings more awareness when we are full, and you are less likely to overeat.

 

It’s not a race!

Mother nature gave us this wonderful gift to provide us food for us to enjoy!

As children, we may have been bribed to eat everything on our plate as fast as we can, do the dishes, and then be rewarded with dessert… We need to enjoy these brief moments to allow the body to get the nutrition it deserves.

Being mindful when eating your foods.

Oh no, I hear you say. Mindful? Perhaps an eye-roll?

Our modern society is a far cry from how our ancestors ate, however this does not stop us appreciating where our food came from and how it was made.

  • Whilst cooking, fall in love with the process, if you are lucky and someone is cooking for you – hang out in the kitchen together and enjoy the creations that are being made. The cutting, aromas, sounds, simmering, roasting, steaming, bubbling..
  • At the start of your meal, close your eyes and imagine where all the flavours came from, see if you can recognise all the ingredients!
  • Embrace it all, right down to the moment it is on your plate.

We all need food everyday, why not learn how to make it work to maximise your health and to also enjoy it?

What makes a Healthy Plate?

What makes a Healthy Plate?

Never before, have we lived in such a time where information is in extreme abundance!  It really can be confusing what information sources are legitimate and which to ignore.  If you are like me when I first started asking questions about the foods of today, it was just pure overwhelm! Visiting the supermarket was a studious affair.

I quickly learned packaged foods were off the shopping list and it was the perimeter of the supermarket that was my friend. Fast forward nearly two decades, I now enjoy my grocery shopping more than ever, and that is because of one key game changer – nutrient dense, wholefoods, properly prepared, no diets… Gasp!  Makes life a whole lot easier.

As a nutritional therapist practitioner, below is the first tool we learned to implement in our own lives and more importantly in the lives of our clients.

       “Incorporate a proper balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and in their correct forms”

Ok, so let’s break it down.  Start with Macro-nutrients!

Macro-nutrients means to have in abundance, as opposed to micro-nutrients.  It is important to strive for the macro-nutrient ratio for your bio-individual needs on your plate.  This will steer the cravings away, provide nourishment for the functions of your body, help you feel more satisfied so you do not overeat and also stabilise your blood sugar levels.  Micro-nutrients (minerals and vitamins) are also equally as important, in smaller amounts.

40% Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be in range of 20-40%, depends on the bio-individual needs of the person (highly active 30-40% range or sedentary lifestyle 20-30%).

  • Majority of the carbohydrates should be low-glycemic vegetables that are raw or lightly cooked.
  • Include 2-3 fresh whole fruits (not juice) each day.
  • Occasionally include starchy carbs (sweet potatoe, whole grains, whole grain breads, potatoes, brown rice or similar)
  • Keep starchy carbs below 15 %
  • Select organic, local and seasonal products whenever possible.

30-50% Fats

Fats can range from 30-50%, for example the older we get the more fat we need for lubrication of our bones and joints.  Healthy fats are crucial to make healthy hormones and is the preferred source of fuel for the heart.

Good Fat sources:

  • In the forms of nuts and seeds
  • Raw, proper processed oils from nuts and seeds (flax, avocado,)
  • Properly processed extra virgin olive oil
  • Saturate fats from healthy sources
  • Butter and other raw dairy fats

Avoid

  • hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats
  • highly processed vegetable oils
  • fried foods

All these products form to be toxic in the body called trans fatty acids.

30% Protein

Good Protein sources:

  • Good quality grass-fed and wild meats
  • Organic, free-range poultry
  • Whole, raw or cultured dairy products
  • Organic, free-range eggs
  • Low toxic seafood

Avoid

  • Products like processed soy
  • Pasteurised, homogenised milk
  • Farmed seafood

Use the macro-nutrient 40/30/30 rule as the guide to help you create a balanced meal, on your plate!

The goal after each meal is to feel completely satisfied and that nothing is missing…

Signs and symptoms that your macro-nutrient ratio needs some fine-tuning

  • Extreme cravings and/or sudden increase of appetite
  • Tend to always be hungry or need to have a lot of snacks throughout your day.
  • Not particularly hungry, loss of appetite
  • Sluggish, afternoon yawning
  • Low energy or extreme high energy throughout the day
  • Cravings for sugar or salt
  • Missing that satisfied feeling?
  • Hungry within 1-2 hours after eating
  • Irritable and/or general crankiness
  • Digestive Issues

Respect your individual needs!

What we put on our plate, has significant effect with how we feel for the coming hours, day and also the weeks ahead.

Why wait, start today with reviewing your macro-nutrient ratios and see what can be adjusted, even if it is only for one of your meals!

Lest not forget the most abundant macro-nutrient in our body which is water! Our body is made up to 60% of water. Some studies have also gone as far to say 75%… To understand more the importance of water, check out a previous post.

Lastly, remember go easy on yourself when making any changes in your diet. Our bodies took a lifetime to get to where they are, and it is only with intention and a positive mindset that the body will follow.

 

 

Source:  Nutrition Pioneer Dr Weston A Price, DDS. One of the first modern researchers to make the connection between health and eating habits. As a Nutritional Therapist Practitioner we are guided by a profound respect for the teachings of the nutritional pioneers, commitment to the concept of biochemical individuals and the belief that within each of us lies an innate intelligence that is our guide.The dietary principals outlined on this guide are with reference from our Nutritional Pioneers, mainly:- Weston A Price and Dr Francis Pottenger, MD. 

Lifestyle Tips to Improve Your Digestion & Why it Matters!

Lifestyle Tips to Improve Your Digestion & Why it Matters!

Do you know that you can eat the healthiest foods on the planet, however if you experience any signs of digestive dysfunction, your body cannot gain the full benefits from these healthy foods, and you may even end up causing more stress to the body?

For years I was of the belief that if I ate healthful foods at whatever speed of my choice, not to mention multi-tasking while eating, and once in a while over indulge or just eat plain bad foods, that I would just have to exercise more, or eat less the next day right? Absolutely WRONG!

Now there’s a lot of discussion points right there, from adrenal fatigue due to the stress caused from over-exercising, to counting calories, although I was not really one of those types, and when I did dabble with the whole calorie counting, my day would end up a complete mess, which impacts the next day, and around we go. We will get to those topics at a later stage, for now let’s see typical signs of a compromised Digestion below.

Possible Signs & Symptoms of Digestive Dysfunction

  • Bloating within one hour after eating
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Sweat has a strong odor
  • Belching or gas within one hour after eating
  • Stomach upset by taking vitamins
  • Sense of excess fullness after meals
  • Feel like skipping breakfast
  • Feel better if you don’t eat
  • Sleepy after meals
  • Stomach pains or cramp

 

Now let’s take a step back..  

What is the Number 1 Goal of Digestion?

The goal of Digestion is to reduce food to molecules so small that the nutrients can be absorbed and used by your cells. Now that’s not just a few of your cells.. This means ALL of your cells in your body, 37 billion on average!

Each of these cells, that makes up every tissue, that makes up every organ, depends on your body’s digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs for proper function.

These nutrients are essential for growth, repair, brain function, hormonal balance, function of your whole body.  When digestion is impaired, the body misses out and although our body is clever in making these vital nutrients by itself, it cannot make all the required nutrients it needs for proper function, which will result to the body having to STEAL vital nutrients from other parts of the body.

If you were to only take ONE thing away from this post, it would be that Digestion can only start when the body is fully at rest! This is called your parasympathetic state, you are in a relaxed state.  Most people are constantly engaging their sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight mode!  The consequence if we eat when hyped or in busy-mode, is the Digestive processes has no chance to even begin…

Digestion starts in the very north of your body, the brain, triggered by sight, smell and thought of food, think of your favourite meal!  It works like a spiral and once the saliva starts to develop in the mouth, the digestive process continues to work it’s way south. Each key organ of digestion (stomach, gall-bladder and pancreas) has an important role. The stomach for example, it’s job is to digest food through mechanical and chemical processes.

Contrary to popular belief, low stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) is much more common than too much stomach acid, yet many still try to reduce acid production to prevent heartburn and other stomach related issues. Due to today’s standard diet of modern foods, increases the likelihood for populations to produce too little hydrochloric acid (HCL).

The stomach is all about acid. Designed for a normal pH of 1.5 – 3.0. HCL is excreted into the stomach at a pH of 0.8…that’s almost pure acid. Getting your food to the right pH level is vitally important for the rest of your digestive system to function properly.

 Important roles of stomach acid

  • Bathes the stomach
  • Disinfects the stomach
  • Kills bacteria and parasites
  • Activates pepsin, so you can digest proteins
  • Breaks down proteins which help produce healthy hormones

Lifestyle Tips that will Improve Your Digestion

Relax – Eating in a calm, relaxed state is imperative to the digestive process being properly activated. Take a moment to take a few breaths, and enjoy the sight and smell of your food. Don’t eat while working, watching TV or on the go (driving, walking).

Chew – Chew foods thoroughly to stimulate digestive enzymes in the mouth and to break up foods into the smallest particles possible for better digestion.

Increase Your HCL Production – Experiment with these tips below to discover which works best for you!

  1. Eat whole foods and real salts, the body does not recognise modern adultered foods.
  2. Drink warm water with lemon 15-20 minutes before a meal, triggers the digestive processes to get ready!
  3. Avoid gulping water during meals, small sips is preferred to ensure fluids are not diluted.
  4. Never drink iced beverages during a meal, slows digestion.
  5. Enjoy a digestive bitter before or after a meal, promotes digestion.
  6. Increase your Zinc intake, pre-cursor for creating HCL.
  7. Take a HCL supplement, speed up the healing process.
  8. Remove any known food sensitivities, lessens Digestive workload.
  9. Add (1⁄2 to 1 tsp.) of apple cider vinegar to water, triggers digestion to start.
  10. Drink 30 ml of kombucha prior to meal-times to stimulate the digestive system.
  11. Have a slice of green (granny smith) apple 15-30 minutes before a meal.  The tartness of the apple, also sends the message that food is to follow.
  12. Add fermented foods to your diet, increases absorption of your foods.

I am a big believer that once we understand how our food works in our body, we are empowered to make the change!  Nurture your body for optimal function by taking some time out to make your meal times a priority of pure enjoyment and relaxation.  Your body will love you!

Source:  Nutritional Therapy Association, WebMd