LOOK AFTER YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
- The role of your digestive system
- Listen to your digestive system
- Stick to your body’s internal body clock
- How can you be nice to your digestive system?
- How to stimulate your digestive system
- Rest your digestive system
- Chew your food
- Do not eat on the run
- Stress and your digestive system
- Digestive enzymes & HCL
- Food Intolerances
The nicer you are to your digestive system the nicer it will be to you and the longer it will work for you. The longer it works for you the better your quality of life will be.
The role of the digestive system:
Our digestive system is made up of different organs (eg stomach, small intestine, large intestine) and different digestive juices (eg saliva, Hydrochloric Acid). The digestive system is designed to break the food you eat down into its smallest components (protein into amino acids, carbohydrates into their simple sugar form, fats into triglycerides and fatty acids) why? So that the body can easily absorb these small pieces of food and use them as building blocks/raw material that the body uses to build itself with and to ensure that our bodies are functioning optimally. Our body is made from million and billions of these small building blocks. The more of your food that your body can absorb and the better the quality of the food you are eating. The better quality and quantity of building block your body has to play with for recovery and repair, making new cells, etc. this intern will make you function better. This is why it is important to be nice to your digestive system.
Listen to your digestive system – Your digestive system cannot talk to you with words but it can communicate to you using symptoms eg bloating, flatulence, constipation (dehydration), diarrhea (a food that rushes through your small intestines, your body wants rid of it asap), smelly stinky flatulence is your digestive systems way of screaming at you stop eating that food. The problem is between you and your digestive system you need to figure out which is the offending food. Read more in the food intolerance chapter to try and figure out which is your offending food(s). If we ignore these symptoms it may lead to more serious problems later on in life.
Slow transit time (the time is takes from chewing a piece of food to passing that piece of food, ideally it should take 24 hours*) – can increase your risk of colon cancer, because excess toxins are hanging around your colon waiting to be expelled, if this is a slow process the body can reabsorb these toxins making more work for your body as and then the liver and colon will be exposed to the same toxins once again. Doubling up the work load.
EG # 2
Diarrhea – Food passes through the digestive system to quickly. When this happens we aren’t giving our digestive system enough time to break the foods down and absorb them. This can lead to malnourishment.
* To test your transit time, use sweet corn! eat some sweet corn as our bodies can’t break it down as it is insoluble fibre. Have a look into the toilet bowl and check for the corn. Ideally it should appear 24 hours later.
How can you be nicer to your digestive system?
- Stimulate your digestive system – before you eat your meal or snack. Stimulate your digestive system with bitter foods, ideally 10 minutes before eating examples include lemon juice, grapefruit, bitter greens eg arugula/rocket. These bitter foods stimulate your body into producing digestive juices and digestive enzymes, these enzymes are what break food down into its absorbable components ensuring you are giving your body the best chance to get the most nutrients out of the foods you are eating. Missing this step creates more work for your digestive system further down the chain.
- Chew your food – By chewing your food you are creating less work for your digestive system the whole way from your mouth to your back door. You are tearing foods up into smaller pieces which mean less work needs to be done. The food also gets mixed up with your saliva, this is really important as digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva. Saliva has an enzyme in it that starts the breakdown of carbohydrates. When we don’t chew our food enough, the food doesn’t get torn up and it doesn’t get mixed with saliva, this puts extra work on the rest of the digestive chain. As digestion has not begun when it should have.
- Eating while stressed plays havoc with your digestive system – If you are an internal stressor this will stress your digestive system. How does it stress your digestive system? When our bodies react to stress blood is directed away from non-vital functions. To run away from a situation you need your arms, your legs and your brain to be alert at this point in time your body will produce adrenaline to make sure there is enough energy for you to run away. We don’t need to be breaking food down to provide us with energy. Any food that you are eating then sits in your stomach, essentially rotting until the stress subsides. This rotting food can then aggravate the digestive later on when your body goes to digest it.
- Do not eat on the run – Make time to eat. Eating on the run can stress your digestive system.
Stressing your digestive system makes your digestive system have to work harder than it should have to work. Eating is a process and our bodies prepare for it, the smell of food stimulates our digestive system to release digestive enzymes – these enzymes are needed to break food down into its smallest components, ready for absorption. When we miss out on this step of smelling food as we prepare it, it makes more work for the rest of our digestive system. When we are eating on the run our body isn’t in a relaxed state, so our digestive system is not in a relaxed state. Again this makes your digestive system have to work harder.
- Rest your digestive system Try and consume some liquid meals (I’m not talking about alcohol!), liquid meals take less time and energy to digest because they have been broken down into their small components already and this will give your digestive system a well-earned rest.
Smoothies and juices (homemade or unpasteurized (not boiled), make sure to mix the smoothie with your saliva – Don’t just down it.
Stick to your body’s internal body clock- rest
Ideally we should only be eating when it’s bright out like our hunter gather relatives – this gives the body time to recover, repair and put time into making sure your immune system is working at keeping your body working optimally. Eating 24/7 doesn’t give our bodies anytime to recover.
Food Intolerances – Can disrupt digestion read more in the food intolerance chapter to try and figure out which is your offending food(s).
Additives etc – Like food intolerances additives can weaken the gut lining or aggravate it. Again look at your symptoms and see if you can figure out what is causing your symptoms.
Digestive enzymes & HCL – If you feel like food is sitting in your stomach after you have eaten, you may be lacking in HCL (Hydrochloric Acid) used in the breakdown of proteins into amino acids or digestive enzymes. To help digestion you can introduce digestive enzyme supplements, they should be taken ten minutes prior to eating.
Detoxifying – your body can have a positive impact on your digestive system, as there will be less toxins to be absorbed and removed from the body. More information in the toxins chapter
Preserve your digestive system; you will thanks yourself in years to come!