Why do we even need to talk about digestion? Because if you don’t have good digestion, even the best efforts to eat good food are in vain.
Digestion is the physical (teeth) and chemical (enzymes) process of breaking down your food into usable components. Assimilation, which is closely tied but not talked about as much is the process of taking those broken down components and putting various nutrients where they need to go in the body.
Most people today have some sort of digestive challenge. Either they aren’t eating digestible food or their digestion just isn’t functioning as efficiently as it should be which can be caused by several things.
Signs of digestive problems and the best foods for proper digestion
Common symptoms of digestive challenges could include: gas, bloating, feeling heavy hours after eating, queasy after eating, skin issues (acne, rashes, etc), big gut, acid reflux/heart burn, excess weight, low energy, sleep issues, mucous or congestion in the nose or throat, sinus issues, trouble with healthy bowel movements and more.
Since 80% of the body’s energy is usually used for digestion, what foods are most digestible and therefore require less energy, so you can use your energy on more important things? Whole fresh organic food is best, raw, steamed or boiled (in that order). Meat, dairy and processed foods are extremely difficult for the body to break down and use. It would be wise to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce consuming such things.
What happens when food isn’t broken down and digested properly
One or more of the following options occurs when food isn’t broken down properly:
- It rots and ferments in the gut causing discomfort, heartburn and indigestion.
- It becomes food for pathogens, creating the perfect environment for bugs to hang out. Most harmful bacteria like to eat old icky garbage (gross I know, but true).
- It is “viewed” by the body as a toxin and so it gets stored in fats cells and making it tough for you to maintain a healthy body weight. This is the body’s way of keeping the harmful toxin out of your blood stream so you stay safe.
I know, no good options so far! That’s why it is CRITICAL to ensure you can digest your food! This road eventually leads to a nightmare combination of hard to figure out symptoms, chronic diagnosis’ and a lot of nutrient deficiencies.
What’s needed for proper digestion?
Here are just a few components to get you started:
- CHEW!!! Your stomach doesn’t have teeth so if you don’t chew thoroughly, it will be difficult for your food to be broken down. Chew each bite until it’s liquid.
- Enzymes are found in fresh raw food. You can also get extra enzymes from eating cultured or fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. I also recommend taking some plant based enzyme supplements because our reserves are most often used up by the time we are 20-30 years old. I personally NEVER eat without them.
- Eat in a calm relaxed environment. Take some deep breaths before you start eating. When you are in “fight or flight” mode, you don’t digest your food so this is key!
- HCL (hydrochloric acid, also known as stomach acid). This is another one that I never eat without. HCL is helpful for several things. 1- it helps break down food in the stomach, 2- it is EXTREMELY protectant against any little bugs that you may consume in/on your food and 3 – it helps with methylation (which we won’t get into here but it’s a critical component of anti-aging). I personally take Betaine HCL (I recommend taking 2-4 with water after each meal, and if you experience burning, you’re either dehydrated or your have an interference field somewhere on the midline of the body).
- Proper hydration is key. You want about half your weight in ounces. About 1/3 of your daily intake should be first thing in the morning. Then the rest should be consumed between meals. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are dehydrating and should not be consumed, but if you do, add 2 additional ounces of water for each ounce of caffeinated beverage.
- Eat at the right time. Your digestive fire is strongest from 10am to 2 pm so that is why it is best to have your biggest meal at lunch. Eat lighter as the day goes on…ideally a small dinner and nothing after dinner if possible.
- Address interference fields (IF)…interference fields can occur anytime there is a scar/trauma especially on the midline of the body, such as a C-section, tailbone, broken nose, naval piercing etc. The energetic pathways in the body are all connected so a scar/trauma in one area can reflex to another part of the body and sedate energy there. This is something that you really need to be tested for but my experience is that most people with midline IF’s have trouble with digestion.
- Avoid over eating! This is so critical. No matter how healthy the food is, if you eat too much, you bog down the system and digestion is challenged. Over eating is one of the primary causes of constipation.
There’s more…once the food goes in, then what?
Lets talk about bowel movements
Your bowel movements should occur ideally at least 2 times per day…they should be long, brown/green and smooth and should be comfortable and easy to pass. If you are constipated or have loose stool, know that there’s a reason and there’s an answer as to why.
If you eat 2-3 times per day, you should eliminate 2-3 times per day. Bowel movements should never be red or black (unless you eat beats), painful, watery and should not have a horrid stench (sorry, someone has to say it).
There is much more we could discuss but these are some of the critical factors that will have a big impact in your body’s ability to digest your food. Take the next step to ensure that you and your family are able to use the great food you’re consuming!