Getting into the holidays, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about nutrition and digestion – fitting for the feeding frenzy that usually accompanies the next few weeks!!
Before we talk about nutrition, let’s talk about digestion. The best eating habits in the world mean nothing if your body cannot absorb the nutrients locked up in the food – and that is exactly what your digestive tract does.
Here is a quick run down of the process: Food enters your mouth. You chew and add some saliva which starts the whole breakdown process of the food. After swallowing ,the stomach begins to churn, adding in some enzymes to further break the food down. It also absorbs the protein in the form of amino acids and then passes the food “pulp” along to the small intestine, which is where most of the absorption of the nutrients take place. What is undigested or needs to finish digesting (some proteins and carbohydrates) passes along to the large intestine, which gets ready to vacate the body.
So as you can see, if your stomach is not breaking down food and preparing it to be fully absorbed in the small intestine, the small intestine is compromised and cannot perform well, robbing your body of valuable nutrients. Food continues along the tract, leaving again unsatisfactory breakdown of food, which creates an unnecessary job for the large intestine, thus resulting in bloat and gas. This is the case with milk for those of you who are lactose intolerant. You do not have the enzyme lactase in your small intestine so the lactose (milk sugar) is passed along to the large intestine where it does a poor job of trying to break it down, resulting in some unpleasantries! Likewise, if the small intestine is compromised and cannot fully absorb the nutrients from the food, the body is left undernourished, and vulnerable to sickness. And I do not have to tell you what happens if your large intestine is compromised, but suffice it to say – it is not pleasant.
So, even all of that great whole, natural food is a better choice than all of the processed foodstuff we have in abundance. However, it means nothing if the system is underperforming. Avoding those foods that cause distress is a good idea, but not as a long term plan. The reason for this is that although the distress is kept at a lower rate, it has not solved why the food causes the issue in the first place, and is an indication of an underperforming digestive tract.
Great, got it – now what do you do to improve the tract? Well, it is quite simple take some high quality probiotics, digestive enzymes and get plenty of fiber.
Probiotics – “Good” bacteria that help to keep the stomach environment optimal for the most effective breakdown of the food stuff, also they stave off the growth of “bad” bacteria that can create an unpleasant environment and therefore compromise the breakdown of your food.
Digestive Enzymes – Added to the ones already produced by the body, they merely assist in the breakdown and ready the food so that the nutrients can be fully gleaned by your small intestine.
Fiber – Get the stuff out! Keep it all moving and the majority of the population don’t even come close to consuming enough to keep the intesinal tract happy.
The point of all this is to get you thinking about how things work and therefore make good choices from an educated standpoint. So
1. Eat clean (natural, whole foods – stay away from packaged anything and throw in some raw fruits and vegetables that have some good things in them!)
2. Make sure your digestive tract is in good shape by taking probiotics, digestive enzymes and appropriate amounts of fiber.
3. Exercise (As One!!) Exercise stimulates the digestive tract and keeps it firing, improving metabolism (converting foodstuffs to energy).
For further discussion of probiotics, enzymes and fiber intake, send us an email or see us and we can see about doing a seminar/class on the subject.
Now enjoy yourselves throughout the holiday as you think about what is happening to all that food you’re eating!!!!!