While studying Ayurveda many years ago, I learned how important supporting our digestion is for overall health. The easiest way to look at our digestive tract, is to think of it as a burning fire that needs to stay lit in order to process everything we consume. I say consume, intentionally, because a lot of times we gulp our food down without thoroughly chewing it before we swallow. We also consume many things that may not qualify as food in Mother Nature’s eyes. Anything that is made in a plant and not picked off a plant, is a good place to start. If it comes in a package, it is pretty much a guarantee it has been processed to some extent. Living in this day and age, it is hard to stay away from quick, fast, and “convenient” food. Yet, it is very inconvenient to get sick and die of a nasty, preventable disease. Sometimes, it is better to pay a little more for organic, healthier options now, than pay a greater price later. The doctor bills and copays will add up to way more down the road, and the price you pay to not be healthy and joyful and capable with your family is even worse. Prioritizing your health and food you consume is a serious choice these days. Americans are one of the most obese and sick people in the world.
What does all this have to do with digestion? Food that is genetically modified and loaded full of pesticides is not too good for any digestive tract. When ‘they’ spray your ‘natural’ foods full of pesticides, chemicals and toxins to make it inedible for anything (bugs, pests, animals) to eat the crop-why would we then, turn around and eat it? Nothing else in nature can or will eat it with all the poisons sprayed on it, but it’s ok to feed it to our children and ourselves? When you stop and think about things like that in such a simple way, it makes more sense to choose organic. Why are we the only species who will still eat it with all the pesticides and poisons on it? When science starts to make your foods and labels have to be put on, then it’s time to think about what is in that package/box? If you can’t even pronounce or read more than half the ingredients on the label-time to go to the produce section, or better yet, the Farmers’ Market. Also, if you are eating meat, being aware of growth hormones & antibiotics pumped into these animals is also something to be aware of. Buying local, seasonal, and organic are not just some cool, hippie things to do-it is for your health and supporting local farmers and keeping our true, natural food supply growing.
The way we choose to spend our money is our vote in all cases. You are either supporting healthy living and keeping healthy options for you and your children’s future or you are paying scientists and greedy corporations to keep you sick and continue to profit off of you and your choices! They keep you sick and the doctors and pharmacists keep getting rich alongside, the GMO scientists, and pesticides/poison makers. They all seem to be related and going toward the same goal, which is profit, not wellness.
Once we start with our choices of what we actually feed ourselves and our children, then the process of digestion can start, even before the food enters our mouth. This is where your children will learn healthy habits-or not! Children who eat vegetables and fruits are fed vegetables and fruits, and see their parents eat vegetables and fruits. That is another topic in itself. Yet, home is where it all begins.
Most of us weren’t raised on very healthy diets to start with and that’s where we just kept the chain going. Sometimes, when we blame genetics, it is really more of the same environment re-created through our lineage, over and over. If we start teaching our children healthy habits at an early age, there is more foundation in place for when they become adults and will raise their children to be more intentional with their choices, and so on. That will start a new chain of health and awareness. When there is awareness and intention, there is room for more growth and knowledge to keep settling in.
So, back to digestion. That fire needs to keep burning and churning. Now, that we are putting more real food into our bodies, that will help with digesting.
*TRUE STORY*~Once upon a time, we were camping with a bunch of families, and one of the families was celebrating a birthday. They had bought one of those colorful (meaning full of dyes), grocery store birthday cakes to share. My family kindly opted out, knowing how it would effect us later and digestion would be difficult, along with elimination (pooping) later on. There was a bit of cake left on the cardboard box and they decided to throw it into the fire pit. We had all been sitting around the fire pit celebrating. We watched as the flames grew around the cake, burning the cardboard, and the cake was not even melting. It just sat there as preserved as can be. Everyone who ate some of the cake, was quite appalled, to say the least at what was happening in the REAL LIVE fire. Knowing good and well, if a huge camp fire couldn’t burn up that leftover cake, what was going on inside of them?
The next big mistake people make while eating, is drinking cold beverages, even if it is water. The cold puts out the fire inside. Combining cold drinks with meals would be the next tip in assisting your digestive system in getting its job done more efficiently. Makes sense? You throw cold water on a fire and it goes out pretty quickly.
The juices flowing inside your gut are very acidic and that is what is breaking down everything going in. Nicely chewed food is much easier to break down once it’s gone down to the small intestine. Bigger pieces are way more work and sit there much longer, than fully chewed food. So, chewing is also a good practice to get into at every meal. Slowing down on the intake and enjoying each bite and tasting it as you chew. That allows for the digestive juices to flow and absorption of nutrients to begin.
Speaking of digestive juices, they start as soon as it is time to eat. You know the feeling, mouth watering. Just like dogs, getting all excited and drooling at dinner time. Their juices are already in the works before they are fed. This is where blessing our meals helps begin the process of getting the juices flowing and ready to receive the good, tasty food prepared with love!!! Saying a blessing helps improve your digestion, and also creates gratitude at the table and teaches your children many more things that just healthy eating.
Healthy living and loving are just as important. If food is ingested while strong emotions of anger or sadness or fear are present, digestion is not going to work as well. Our minds and bodies (& hearts) need to be able to digest in a relaxed, peaceful, and safe atmosphere. That is also why having no media devices (phone, computer, ipad, TV, etc) are welcome at the meal table. Under NO circumstances. Meal time is for eating and enjoying each other. Too many times, while out at a restaurant, it is so sad to see everyone at a table together, on their phones and kids and even babies with screens in front of them??? What is that teaching our children? What is that doing to our minds and bodies and even hearts? We are too busy of a culture as it is, we need to have reverence daily and at each meal.
Most people are so scared of bacterias and don’t realize how much our bodies are made of bacteria and how important it is to our own body ecosystem, as well as the earth’s ecosystem. Good bacteria is getting wiped away from our bodies, from before conception!! So many procedures are stripping us of our natural, very much needed bacteria to survive and heal ourselves. Cesarean sections strip our babies as soon as they are born, and then they are injected with so many toxins and poisons-‘they’ call medicines, and given so many antibiotics and it just keeps going on and on, until our bodies have nothing left to heal itself and do its own job it was perfectly made to do!!! Again, another topic for later, yet still very connected.
Our gut needs lots of good bacteria to help digest and break down our food and turn it into poop, to eliminate it out once we’ve used all the nutrients-hopefully- out of the food. So, there is hope! Probiotics and prebiotics are in different natural, foods, as well as supplements. Eating fermented foods helps and PRO-biotics are much healthier than ANTI-biotics, in many ways!! PRO supports and ANTI is against….just another simple way to think about it.
Combining certain foods can either help or hinder digestion. An example is melons. Those are best eaten alone, and not with other foods. Some foods that are heavy, shouldn’t be combined with other food groups that are also heavy and hard to digest. Gluten and cheese are both hard to digest and combing, takes even more work on our system. So, a protein and lots of veggies, is a good combination. The fiber of the veggies and the heaviness of the protein are in more balance together.
Other triggers to look at if you do have digestion issues, even after implementing all the tips I gave you above, could be certain foods that are more harsh on certain individuals than on others. Sometimes there are food allergies, or sensitivities that may need to be addressed. The main triggers are sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and caffeine, to name a few.
So, digestion tips in a nutshell:
~choose whole foods grown on land or from Mother Nature
~try to stay away from packaged/boxed foods and labels you can’t even read or pronounce
~try to eat as much organic and local, seasonal food as possible
~Bless your meals
~Chew your food
~No cold beverages with meals
~Watch your food combining
~No screens or media devices at the table during meals
~Eat fermented foods (ex. Krauts, kimchee, unsweetened yogurts, kombucha, kefir)
~avoid GMO foods!!! No frankenfood for your body!!!
~IF there are still gut issues and digestion problems, check into food allergies and sensitivities
These are a few insightful ideas and suggestions and lots of extra information, to help you work on your digestion and to help things flow in and out as smoothly as possible.
You should poop at least 2-4 a day, and they should be good logs, that come out easily. Sometimes constipation or diarrhea are good indicators that your digestion needs some work. Weight gain and stomach pains can also be an indication. What goes in, must come out, and should be as regular from both ends.
Your health and well being depend on good digestion. That is where all your micronutrients and macronutrients are dispersed and stored or eliminated.
Take care of yourself from the inside out!!! And as always, I am here to help support you in any way you feel you may need. I offer a free 50 minute Health History consultation, to help explore areas where you may want more support toward a happier and healthier life!!! Feel free to comment below or reach out for a free consultation.
Written by Antoinette Rascon