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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healthy Eating 101 - Digestion

(Taken from the book "Eating away Illness")

Good digestion and assimilation are necessary for optimal health and energy. Facilitating digestion and repairing the digestive tissues is a process that takes awareness, time and discipline.

There are several factors one may consider.

The stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which is necessary to digest protein. Parts of the digestive system, including the mouth, pancreas and the walls of the small intestine, produce digestive enzymes, which are necessary to chemically break apart food into single nutrient molecules. The different types of digestive enzymes include protease (to break down protein), lypase (to break down fats), cellulase (to break down fibre), amylase (to break down carbohydrates). The amylase in our saliva works best on carbohydrates. The digestive enzymes in the small intestine, both from the pancreas and the walls of the small intestine, work on all of the partially digested food that has left the stomach.

Hydrochloric acid production decreases with age and is hampered by stress and poor food combinations. Drinking water and other liquids apart from meals is best as they dilute valuable stomach acid. Eating slowly in a stress free environment (silence is best) and chewing your food well sets the stage for good digestionAvoid sugary foods at the same time as eating fats and proteins. A better practice is to consume fruits and juices 30 minutes to an hour before meals or three hours after.

Raw foods contain active enzymes, so consuming raw foods more often, as well as taking a broad spectrum digestive supplement with pancreatin will facilitate digestion. It may be useful to carry a small bottle of digestive enzymes with you wherever you go.

It is important to begin healing the digestive tract as well. The tissue in the stomach sloughs off every three to seven days, which means we have the ongoing opportunity to create healthy new cells to replace the old and unhealthy. Rather than popping antacids and drugs to eliminate digestive symptoms, it would be best to restore bowel bacteria, and heal leaky gut.

Antacids lower acid production, impair digestion and absorb nutrients while increasing unhealthy bacteria. Most people believe they are producing too much acid, which they are not, and that taking antacids will solve the problem - which it won't.

It kinda irks me that everything this book says is so true....and that I was far too stubborn to listen to any of it before I got 'sick' - never knew any of it, but I'm grateful for the knowledge now!


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