Basic First Steps to Improve Digestion and Intestinal Health
Some researchers suggest that digestive disorders are the principle cause underlying many diseases and symptoms (arthritis, heart attacks, skin problems, allergies, menstrual problems, impotency, cancer to name just a few). Our stomach is very smart, it communicates with us, always telling us how it feels, some believe it has a brain of it’s own, others say it’s our second brain. If we continually push our stomach past it’s functional state it will react. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart burn, indigestion, belching, gas, bloating, appetite disorders, and ulcers are some of the signals that the stomach is having trouble. Unfortunately, we don’t always listen to our stomach and we have a tendency to shut it up with chemicals and drugs ie. antacids, laxatives, digestive aids etc. This can lead to the stomach malfunctioning, which then moves to the intestines (fermentation and putrefaction of toxins can happen) malfunctioning, leading to the above mentioned diseases. Every part of our bodies are connected to each other, you cannot do one thing without it affecting the other. There is always a consequence, you have the choice for the consequence to be good or bad.
Your health depends on the strength of your digestive system, with digestive strength comes dietary freedom!
Six simple steps to begin your journey to digestive strength
1. Start your Morning with Lemon Water
Although lemons are acidic, they are alkalizing in your body. Lemon can help relieve many digestive problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn, constipation, and parasites. Lemon also aids the bowels in eliminating waste more efficiently and can help with constipation. Lemon water acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent, it cleanses the toxins out of your body, your skin will show it first!. Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile. It decreases the amount of phlegm/mucus produced by your body. Squeeze 1/2 lemon into 8oz of hot or tepid water and drink 1/2 hour before breakfast daily to help stimulate the production of digestive juices.
2. Chew, Chew, Chew
The more you chew, the slower you eat (the less you eat), the more digestive enzymes you secrete, the less stress on your digestive organs, the more nutrients you absorb from your food, the easier you eliminate. On a side note – you can shed pounds by simply increasing your chewing. Chewing also strengthens teeth and gums. Chew your food until it becomes a paste, then swallow.
3. No Drinking with Meals
“What? There’s no way I can do that, I get thirsty when I eat and need something to wash it down with”. The truth is it’s very easy not to drink with meals as most of the food you eat (fruits/vegetables) contain water in them. The basic idea is to drink all the water desired ten to fifteen minutes before meals (laboratory tests have determined that water leaves the stomach in about ten minutes after its ingestion), thirty minutes after fruit meals, two hours after starch meals and four hours after protein meals. When there is too much liquid and food settling in your stomach, digestion slows down, it also dilutes the gastric acid that your stomach produces. Low gastric acid leads to incomplete digestion, and the extra liquid can also cause the fats and oils in the food to cling together which further prevents absorption. If you can stop drinking with meals right away, great! If not, have a small glass of water and sip it with your meal. With each meal drink less and you’ll soon find you no longer need to “wash” your food down with any fluids.
4. Water, Water, Water (tepid not cold)
Drink water between meals only. We need on average about 12 cups of water per day, 4 cups comes from our food, 1 cup comes from the breakdown of this food and 7 cups we need to drink. Water improves oxygen delivery to cells, transports nutrients, helps cells stay hydrated, moistens oxygen for easier breathing, cushions bones and joints, absorbs shocks to joints and organs, regulates body temperature, removes, wastes and flushes toxins, prevents tissues from sticking, lubricates joints, improves cell to cell communication, maintains normal electrical properties of cells and improves the bodies natural healing process. Cold liquids stop the action of the enzymes (in stomach) which must wait until the temperature of the stomach has been raised to normal before they can resume their action. When the cold drink is first introduced into the stomach it is shocked and chilled. To calculate how much water your body needs use this equation [weight in lbs x .66 ÷ 8 = number of cups you require eg.130lbs x .66 ÷ 8 = 10 cups]
5. No More Over Eating
This one might be hard for some, so baby steps will be key. Many emotional and psychological factors contribute to overeating as well as insecurities and influences from family and friends. You should know that overeating is one of the most common and dangerous eating habits. It leads to obesity (which is a factor in other diseases), causes stress to the digestive tract and other organs, congestion and stagnation (poor elimination) also occur. Drinking plenty of water through out the day helps curbs cravings and gives you the feeling of being full, sometimes the body can’t tell if it’s hungry or thirsty, if you are still hungry after your water then it’s time to eat. Try placing your meals on smaller plates, don’t rush your meal (fast eaters tend to overeat, review step 2 Chew, Chew, Chew), if you feel you are still hungry after your first plate go for seconds but cut that in half.
6. Slow Down, Relax and Enjoy your Meal
By slowing down you pay greater attention to your body’s responses, you put less stress on your body. The body cannot digest food properly if you are feeling stressed. Take the time to sit down and eat so you have more energy for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Meals should be enjoyable, a time to slow down, take time to yourself or with family and friends.