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