Digestion: It Does the Body Good!

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Healthy Living, Nutrition

Digestion.  Really?  Why do a blog about digestion?  Well…Did you know that a large portion of your immune system lies in your digestive tract?  It has been said around 70% or more!  If things are going wrong in your digestive tract then it is extremely likely that you are having issues that are manifesting themselves in other ways throughout your body.  Got to keep the gut happy!

So a few things about digestion.  If you think digestion starts in your mouth – think again.  It actually starts in the brain.  You know when you have had that experience where you just smell food, or see it, and your mouth begins to water?  That’s the start of the digestive process.  Those are the salivary glands producing saliva in anticipation for what is to come and saying, “let the games begin…bring on the food!”  Digestion is a north to south process beginning in your head and ending with your – well, you know!  The following are a few ways to make digestion go more smoothly and ultimately help to keep your gut happy. 

  1. Will you sit, please?!  How many of you stand when eating, eat while walking out the door, or eat in the car, etc?  When you do that you are immediately putting your body in what is called a sympathetic state – a “fight or flight” state.  When the body is in that state, it has to divert energy and blood flow elsewhere in the body, and therefore will not have the ability to use those two things for proper digestion which are components in the overall act of digesting. In order to set your body up for appropriate digestive function you need to be in a parasympathetic state – a more relaxed, calm state of being.  So now you have a snippet of insight as to one of the reasons why you may always have indigestion when you eat on the run.
  2. Put that fork down!  In our fast paced lives many of us are not even enjoying our food, but rather shoveling it into our mouths and gulping it down.  Try to put your fork down after each bite to slow the process of eating and take the time to really taste your food.  For many, this will be one of the few times during the day where they will actually be able to sit and relax.  Not only will you be able to enjoy your food in that parasympathetic state, but you will also allow your brain and stomach to catch up to each other in terms of the signals for satiety.  Your body knows what it is doing – just give it the time it needs to do its job.  (I need to work on this, too!)  This leads me into the third thing to help digestion go more smoothly and it relates to number 2…
  3. Chew, baby, chew!  This goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway – CHEW YOUR FOOD!  The more you chew your food, the less work your digestive system has to do in order to break food down and the less chance you will feel crummy after a meal.
  4. I’m going to have to ask you to slowly step away from the soda can, and don’t even think about taking any fast sips!  Drinking soda (or other carbonated beverages for that matter) will turn on that sympathetic “flight or flight” state again and will halt digestion.  There are also other issues with soda, not just from a digestion disruptor point of view.  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), artificial sweeteners in diet soda, the phosphoric acid leaching calcium out of the bones, the brown coloring used is also very suspect at this point, etc.  Hmmm…sounds delicious?
  5. Inspector POOseau  Yup.  We have to go there!  Turn around, look in the bowl and inspect your poop.  Your poop – okay I will act my age…your stool, your feces, your bowel movement – whatever your pleasure – will tell give you signs as to whether or not your digestive system is functioning properly.  Undigested food, coloring, shape, size, and odor can be indicators of “alls well that ends well” (ha) or that you need to take a look behind the scenes. (Sorry! I couldn’t resist.)  Again – digestion is a north to south process, so if something is not right down south, you need to keep going north to find the problem.

 

These were just 5 aspects to keep in mind regarding optimizing your digestion, and they are all things that you can implement immediately.  We tend to just think of the act of putting food into our mouth as just eating.  It is not just eating.  It is a whole process of digestion whereby the body is going to break down the food to get the nutrients that it needs to thrive in a healthy manner.  If we remember from above that a large portion of our immune system lies within our gut – then it isn’t too hard to understand the importance of good nutrition and a healthy functioning digestive system. 

Happy digestion to all, and to all a good gut!

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Comments
  1. I agree with you! I think this information is useful to people who wants to loss their weight very effectively like me. Thanks for sharing such a nice information with us.

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