We’ve all heard the expression: “You are what you Eat!” You are also what you absorb (or don’t absorb). This is absolutely true when it comes to your digestion and the digestive process. When your digestion is processing symptom free, the better chances you have to properly absorbing all of those vital nutrients! Good digestion is as important as good food because our cells can’t use what our body can’t absorb.
Poor digestion is one of the most common problems that I encounter as a Holistic Nutritionist. So… what’s going on?
Some Signs of Poor Digestion:
- Un-digested food in the stool,
- Stomach aches,
- Heart Burn,
- Excessive gas,
- Burping after meals,
- Feeling too full after eating,
- Tired after eating,
- Difficulty losing weight,
- Migraine headaches,
- Loose Bowel Movements
Man Made/ Added Ingredients into Our Food Supply:
- Processed and unnatural foods (including genetically modified foods)
- Foods containing chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chlorine, etc.)
- Foods containing chemicals, or that have undergone processes designed to preserve them (preservatives, oil, sugar and grain refining, hydrogenation, Nitrites, Nitrates)
- Alcohol, Caffeine
- Food Allergies and/or Food Sensitivities
- Lack of Movement and/or exercise on a daily basis
Digestive Issues Can Occur From Many Imbalances:
Under-active Stomach: The body is not producing enough enzymes for the proper digestion of food. Low Stomach Acid leads to constipation and poor absorption.
Overactive Stomach: Common symptoms are heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux. It seems like too much acid so we take tablets to stop the acid and this further hinders our symptoms because it is in fact (most of the time) too little acid. As the stomach is struggling to churn, acid may shoot up the esophagus causing irritation and inflammation.
Liver- Powerhouse of the body: The body’s filtering organ which provides over 400 functions. When the liver is overloaded it cannot keep up with the demands and results in toxicity (acne, oily skin on T Zone, migraine headaches, irritability, anger, constipation, difficulty losing weight). This results in not enough bile being produced which emulsifies fats.
Gall Bladder: Every year more than 50,000 people in North America undergo surgery to remove their gall bladders because of gall stones!
Pancreas: Regulates blood glucose levels through production of insulin and glucagon and manufactures digestive enzymes.
Hypogycemia: Imbalance of sugar in the blood stream (constant fluctuations) symptoms include strong cravings for sweets/ sugar, headaches, addictions, irritability, faint/ weakness when going for hours without food, fatigue.
Steps Towards Optimal Digestion:
This is something I have perfected. In fact my entire family makes fun of how slow I eat, and little did I know it is a great habit to have!! Chewing all food slowly and carefully into almost a liquid.
Eating in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Even if you are eating a meal or 2 alone, sit at the table, turn off the TV, and concentrate on enjoying your meal. No more eating in the car or on the go!
Avoid drinking with meals:
Avoid drinking any liquids including water with meals (wait a half an hour before meals and half hour after) but drink lots of water in between meals.. this helps your digestive juices!!
Try to avoid negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings of stress while eating.
Drink luke warm lemon water (use a half of a lemon) 15 minutes before meals.
Eat smaller meals more often. This keeps your digestive system working and helps with over eating at meal times.
Meals are not all you can eat buffets:
Avoid over-eating since this is very hard on your system.
Quality over quantity:
Be careful of the quality of food that you are eating, doing your best to avoid those mentioned above.
Eat with awareness.
Since we all have to eat for energy try to eat healthy food that will give you the most energy possible rather than draining your energy.
Give your digestive system a rest by taking in the bulk of your food between during the day when you need the energy from it. Avoid eating 2 to 3 hours prior to bedtime.
Let things settle first:
If your system is irritated, avoid heavy fiber (raw vegetables and many fruit) until it has settled down – blend and juice raw foods, eat soft fruit, steam vegetables, and eat well cooked gluten free grains and legumes.
Try ginger tea, peppermint tea or extract (food grade essential oils), chamomile tea, or lemon balm tea.
Decrease hard to digest foods:
Avoid or decrease the hardest to digest foods: processed foods, all meat, dairy (unless it’s cultured and you have no obvious sensitivity), wheat and other gluten containing grains (for some people).
Everyday try to include time spent in activities that help you to experience and express emotions: writing, talking things out, meditation, movement, music, dance, nature, hobbies, artwork, journaling, etc.
Think about the emotional aspects of poor digestion: What is it in your life that you may be having a difficult time digesting? What may you be exposing yourself to daily that is not nourishing and giving you energy? What are you not able to absorb and process in your daily life and routine? Bringing awareness and understanding to these issues could really help release these feelings that could be overall hindering to your digestion process.
Do you pay attention to what you eat and how you feel? What was in that meal that left you feeling bloated, tired, and with stomach cramps? Try to connect what you eat with how you feel – this will help you to know your body and know which foods are helping or hindering your digestion.
Please feel free to ask questions, offer your own struggles or challenges, and comment on your progress. We couldn’t be more excited to hear from you! Also, invite friends and family to read and learn this info and let’s Be Healthy and Feel Fabulous together!
“Image courtesy of dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.