5 Steps to Better Digestion

“All disease begins in the gut.”  Hippocrates

Hippocrates made this statement over 2000 years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.  Perhaps even more so.

Many of the diseases we encounter today – diabetes, gout, gallstones, allergies, high blood pressure, to name a few – manifest in other parts of the body, but are rooted in the digestive system.  Think of how many ailments do show symptoms in the gut.  How often do you feel nausea, pain, indigestion, heartburn, gas or bloating?   It’s so common to feel less than 100% in the gut that we all think it’s normal!

Well it’s not normal.  We feel pain when something is wrong and we don’t have to ignore it.   Our mouths and stomachs are the organs where digestion starts.  They rely on enzymes and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCl) to help to break down what we put into our stomachs, including bacteria and other pathogens we ingest every day.  Many people mistake indigestion for too much stomach acid and pop an antacid (one of the biggest pharmaceuticals sold in North America), which neutralizes stomach acid and grinds digestion, and bacteria killing, to a halt.   In reality, most of us have too little stomach acid and low enzyme activity.

Here’s how you can improve your digestion:

  1. Chew your food thoroughly.  We are so accustomed to eating on the run that we gulp down our food, hardly even tasting it.  Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth.  Enzymes in your saliva begin breaking them down.
  2. Avoid drinking during meals.  Drinking water or other fluids with your meal waters down your stomach acid.
  3. Eat raw food. Raw fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, protein sources (meats, fish, milk), and honey, contain enzymes required for their own digestion.  Heating destroys them.  If you eat only cooked food, your body relies entirely on the pancreas to make the necessary enzymes and over time, this places a very heavy burden on the pancreas.  Include something raw with every meal and snack.
  4. Eat in a stress-free environment.  When we eat while rushed or stressed, our bodies focus on reducing the stress response instead of on digestion.  Stomach activity is impaired and food is not digested properly.  Enjoy your meals at a table in a relaxed environment.
  5. Try apple cider vinegar 20 minutes before a heavy meal. Start with a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water.  This will help to increase activity.  Note: if you feel a burning sensation in your tummy after taking apple cider vinegar, this can be relieved by drinking a glass of milk.  In this case, you may have an overactive stomach and vinegar is not necessary for you.

Making these actions a habit may help you to feel better in the short term and improve your body’s ability to fight disease in the long run.

  • Categories: Digestion, New


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