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Good Health Starts With Great Digestion: 10 Tips To Improve Digestion, Absorption and Elimination

Good Health Starts With Great Digestion: 10 Tips To Improve Digestion, Absorption and Elimination

 

Although good health is dependent on a wholesome diet, many people overlook the importance of healthy eating habits. Poor digestive health affects every system in the body. Even if you are eating the healthiest diet possible, if your body isn’t able to absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food you could still face nutritional deficiencies, paving the way to a weakened immune system – leading to a wide variety of health conditions.There are many factors that contribute to a poorly functioning digestive system. In order to achieve and maintain health, we must eat in such a way that optimizes the way we digest food, absorb nutrients and eliminate the waste products of metabolism.
Anyone with the following symptoms would greatly benefit by being faithful to the guidelines below.

 

Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms?

 • Food intolerances • gas and bloating after meals •  excessive belching • indigestion • constipation or diarrhea • chronic fatigue • body odour • white coating on the tongue • bad breath • skin disorders • sugar cravings • brain fog • itchy skin • undigested food in the stool • streaks or ridges on the fingernails • hormone imbalance • mood swings • easy weight gain • autoimmune disease

 It’s not just about WHAT we eat,  but HOW we eat!

1. Eat Slowly and Always relax and Take Your Time to Eat Meals
Stress and rushing through a meal greatly impairs digestion by allowing too much air to mix with food and not allowing saliva, which contains digestive enzymes to thoroughly coat the food as we eat. This contributes to delayed gastric emptying which leaves undigested food prone to fermentation in the gut, promoting an overgrowth of unhealthy intestinal bacteria and contributing to gas, bloating and intestinal dysbiosis.

2. Chew Your Food Thoroughly Until it is a Paste in Your Mouth
Digestion begins in the mouth and the act of chewing stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). We can’t efficiently digest and assimilate the nutrients from what we’re eating if we don’t have enough digestive enzymes and stomach acid to chemically break down our food. Improper chewing also makes the stomach work harder to physically break down food, which creates irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract.

3. Never Drink Water With a Meal
To maximize digestion, it is advised to never drink water (or any other liquid) with a meal, or within 30 minutes before and after meals.

Drinking with meals prevents absorption of nutrients by diluting digestive enzymes. To make sure you are properly hydrated, sip water throughout the day but avoid drinking large amounts with meals.

4. Limit Stimulants, Sugar and Caffeine
Caffeine acts as a laxative and increases peristalsis, the muscle contractions that propel food through the digestive system in an unnatural manner.  Caffeine also has a diuretic effect. With increased urination, water soluble vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, C) can be depleted as a result of extra fluid loss. Stimulants also increase the production of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response, increasing blood-glucose levels to provide immediate energy to the muscles. As a result, blood supply to the intestines is decreased, suppressing digestive function.

5. Consume Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods
Fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha promote healthy intestinal flora.
* Note: If you are using yogurt as a probiotic, it must be plain and unsweetened.
Yogurt which contains fruit or added sugar has NO probiotic benefit, no matter what the label tells you. 

6. Stop eating when you are 80% full.
Overeating causes stress on the body which impairs the integrity of the intestinal walls, leading to widespread inflammation and a cascade of poor health effects.

7. Engage in Low Intensity Exercise on a Daily Basis
Low intensity exercise can aid digestion and can help improve elimination.
Walking, bike riding, rebounding, yoga and deep breathing exercises are excellent ways to reduce stress and relieve tension, which will have a positive effect on the digestive system. Strenuous exercise before and after meals however, should be avoided since the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) is activated during exercise and in times of intense emotional stress, inhibiting digestion.

8. Be Mindful of Food Combining Principles
To optimize digestion, avoid combining animal protein and starch in the same meal.

Starchy carbohydrates digest faster than protein and combining the two slows digestion and delays gastric emptying, which means a longer time spent putrefying in the intestine – causing gas, bloating and feeding candida microorganisms.

For optimal digestion, avoid these combinations:
X meat with potatoes
X meat with rice
X meat with bread
X meat with pasta
 
For optimal digestion, it’s best to use combinations such as these:
meat with non starchy vegetables only
grains with vegetables
leafy greens with starchy vegetables
 
9. Avoid Combining Fruit, Sugar and Starchy Carbohydrates With Animal Protein
Since animal protein is the slowest to digest, fruit or pastry desserts with, near or after a heavy protein meal does NOT benefit digestion and can lead to digestive upset. To avoid fatigue, heaviness and gas and bloating after meals, try waiting a few hours after a large meal to have dessert.

10. Avoid Substances and Factors That Reduce or Cause Excess Stomach Acid
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of excess stomach acid. When your body has sufficient amounts of water, it can naturally regulate the acidity of the stomach content.

• Avoid drinking carbonated beverages, alcohol and chewing gum.
• Avoid taking antacids, rather treat the root cause of acid indigestion and heart burn.
• Consume meals on a regular basis, avoid skipping meals.

Fix Your Digestion
Learn to be Your Own Digestive Health Expert!

 

Articles

The Aftermath of Halloween and How We Can Strengthen Our Immune System During the Holiday Season

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I hope everybody had a great Halloween. I’m sure there’s a whole lot of snackin’ going on, with the abundance of candy and sugary treats that most people either bought or collected over the last few weeks. Now that Halloween is over, we have Christmas coming up very quickly, with even more tempting sugary treats all around — and before we know it we’ll be smack-dab in the middle of cold and flu season: a bad combination.
Remember, just because a cold or flu is going around, doesn’t mean you have succumb to it! I truly believe we have been given everything in nature to keep our immune systems strong enough to completely avoid getting sick. I therefore want to take this opportunity to give you a few tips to help counteract the negative effects of sugar consumption during the holiday season!

The first thing I want to explain is why and how sugar compromises the immune system. In order for me to demonstrate this I’m going to have to talk about white blood cells and something called neutrophils. Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cell in the body — cells of the immune system involved in defending the body against infections. They account for approximately 50-70% of all white blood cells. During the beginning phase of acute inflammation, as a result of infection, neutrophils are one of the first-responders who rush to the scene. These highly active and motile cells are known for their ability to ingest microorganisms, meaning through the action of phagocytosis, they ingest harmful particles and bacteria. They also ramp up inflammatory reactions — which is a good thing because not all inflammation is bad. We need inflammation. Like, when we have a fever, it’s evidence that the immune system is revved up and working. It’s the body’s way of heating up to kill an infection. There was this really important study that came out years ago that showed a significant decrease in neutrophil activity after the consumption sugar — which means, when we consume sugar, the immune system can’t do its job to fight infection. Sugar literally paralyzes the immune system! Sugar also makes our bodies more acidic, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive and take over.

The second thing I want to talk about is digestive health. Did you know that 80% of the body’s immune system can be found in the gut? And by gut I’m of course referring to the small and large intestine. The digestive tract’s immune system is often referred to as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and works to protect the body against foreign invaders. The intestine possesses the largest mass of lymphoid tissue in the human body and it’s made up of several types of immune cells that defend us against pathogens. This means that by supporting our digestive health, we directly strengthen our immune system!

Now that Halloween is over maybe not all of us succeeded in avoiding sugary treats … but is there anything we can do after the fact? Absolutely! And it’s called probiotics! Probiotics have numerous health benefits. These live microorganisms help eat and breakdown sugar; they facilitate the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from our food, and they alter the acidic environment in the intestine to create less desirable conditions for harmful organisms to survive. In my opinion, the best source is from a high quality, multi-strain probiotic supplement. These can be found in the refrigerated section of many health food stores. You want to look for one containing a minimum of 10 billion active bacteria per capsule. For those not keen on taking supplements, there are also many food source probiotics. Anything that has been fermented or cultured also contain these beneficial bacteria. The most common probiotic food source is of course is yogurt. Not all yogurt however, are equally beneficial. Some producers pasteurize the yogurt after the cultures are added, which kill off the bacteria during the pasteurization process. Yogurt should contain nothing but milk ingredients and active cultures, but many of these products contain huge amounts of sugar, fructose and a monstrosity of chemicals, additives and preservatives. The vast amounts of sugar in these products encourage the growth of pathogenic organisms like candida, resulting in no probiotic benefit at all. True probiotic yogurt should only be plain and unsweetened. To improve the taste and add additional health benefits, add cinnamon, flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts, but please do not be tricked into thinking your fruit bottom yogurt is a probiotic- no matter what the packaging or commercials tell you. Kefir, a type of fermented yogurt that can be made from either cow, goat or sheep’s milk, as well as from plant sources such as soy, rice, almonds and coconut is probably one of the best options. Always check the label to see that your yogurt or kefir contains live and active cultures; one tablespoon should contain at least 5 billion bacteria, minimum. Many of these non-dairy yogurts are available in health food stores or can be found in the natural and organic sections of larger supermarket chain stores. Other probiotic food sources include sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha. Even naturally-fermented pickles have probiotic properties!

Of course I can’t talk about probiotics without mentioning prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible dietary fibre that triggers the growth of beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics; they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotics and prebiotics have a symbiotic relationship. Consuming them both on a regular basis will allow them to work better and more efficiently. Foods that act as prebiotics are whole grains, bananas, apples, onions, garlic, honey, green beans, leeks, artichokes, asparagus, oats, chicory, flax seeds, burdock and dandelion root.

Other things we can do to help keep our immune system strong over the holiday season: eat your leafy greens, avoid acid forming foods like refined or processed grains and excessive meat consumption, drink clean filtered water, breathe deep, sleep well and give thanks and love in abundance! ♥