The GIFT of Great Digestion

Want to give yourself a gift?  We buy ourselves a lot of things, but the biggest gift that you can give your body is the gift of good digestion!   Every cell that makes up every tissue that makes up every organ depends on the body’s Digestive System to provide the nutrients it needs to keep on functioning.  

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As I mentioned yesterday in my previous blog, the most “perfect” person with the most “perfect” diet that ate all of the right things would still be not getting good nutrients if they were not digesting properly.   Without good digestion, everything else concerning nutrition is pretty much POINTLESS.  No matter what you do, you will still have deficiencies.

Did you know that digestion actually STARTS IN THE BRAIN?  Digestion isn’t just about our stomach and intestines.  Our bodies are amazing and just by the sight and smell of food, our brain triggers our salivary glands and our body starts getting prepared to digest!

A goal to strive for:  RELAX WHEN YOU EAT.  TAKE A MINUTE TO SAVOR WHAT YOU ARE EATING

Digestion also occurs in the MOUTH.   We actually digest most of our carbohydrates here….This is somewhat of a scary thought considering how FAST MOST OF US EAT!  Think about it…do we really take time to eat any more?  Run a short errand on your lunch break and you will see most people multi-tasking in their cars, cramming in lunch!  Everyone shovels in fast food as quickly as they can before heading back to work.  Fast food is actually made to be SOFT so that you can scarf it down so quickly!  That “special” sauce on that fast food burger isn’t just there for taste!  When it is washed down with a soft drink or beverage – you barely have to chew it!  This is very hard on your body because we actually produce an enzyme in our mouths called Salivary Amylase that performs most of the digestion on carbs. 

Remember being told to “Chew your food,” by your mother growing up?  Well, that was very sound advice from dear Mom.  Chewing uses your teeth to mechanically break down food into smaller particles.  This works together with Salivary Amylase, the enzyme that digests carbs, and helps to further break down your carbohydrates for absorption by your body.  By skipping this process, and most of us fast-paced Americans do, you actually put undigested carbs through your system which can cause a myriad of problems such as indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Crones Disease, Leaky Gut and also the overgrowth of bad stomach bacteria. 

We all have bacteria in our intestinal tracts.  However, we have good guys (probiotics) and bad guys (pathogens).  They are constantly in a game of war to rule the throne of your system.  When you have undigested carbs in your intestinal tract you are fueling the bad guys and giving them power over the good.   Don’t let that happen!

A goal to strive for:  CHEW YOUR FOOD FOR 30 BITES BEFORE SWALLOWING EACH BITE

Once food hits your stomach, the real party begins!  Shake it up!  Food is mixed and churned with something called Hydrochloric Acid and this is what helps to disinfect it.  (Ever wonder if your piece of chicken was dropped on the floor in the kitchen at a restaurant before being placed on your plate?  Hydrochloric Acid will come to the rescue if it was! )  Hydrochloric Acid is very acidic.  Most people who have Acid Reflux or GERD tend to think that they have too much of it in their stomach.  However, they are wrong!  THEY ACTUALLY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH HYDROCHLORIC ACID IN THEIR STOMACH.  Yes, you read that correctly!

90% of the population has LOW Hydrochloric Acid.*   How can that be, you might ask?  Well, the production of stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid) can be greatly diminished due to stress, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies and just aging in general.  Let me just ask you, who out there ISN’T under some sort of stress? 

When people have low stomach acid, what happens is that their food just sits in their stomach.  You know you have felt that at some point in your life!  It feels like a bowling ball just sitting in your stomach!   Bloating and belching tend to be big signs alerting us to this occurance!  It is truly the acidity of the food that eventually triggers the gatekeeper to the small intestine to open up and let food in to move further on down your intestinal tract.  This little gate-way to your intestines is very stubborn!  If it doesn’t get the right “code” from the food in stomach (by having the right acidity) it won’t “Open Sesame” without being forced.  This gatekeep allows (or doesn’t allow)  your food to enter into the small intestine to be further broken down for use by your body.

When food just sits in the stomach, it rancidifies, putrefies and ferments!  Sounds lovely, right?  What happens then is it starts to expand and reflux back up your esophagus!  That is when people FEEL THE BURN from the SMALL AMOUNT of stomach acid that is actually there in your stomach!   Tragically, most people don’t understand this and instead pop acid blockers, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs such as Prevacid) and antacids like candy!  This is so destructive to your body and to digestion! 

Yes, you may feel relief from the heartburn with these acid blockers – they do greatly diminish the acid production in your stomach.  But, think about the little gatekeeper  to your small intestines! Imagine now how even more stubborn it will be and how it will take even longer for food to pass through to it due to the lack of stomach acid available to trigger it to open.  When this happens, food that is supposed to nourish your system instead just sits in your stomach and rots.  This is very destructive to your body.  Cells are not able to receive the nourishment that they need to perform well for you!

Instead of stopping the production of stomach acid with these types of medications, we should be ENCOURAGING the production of stomach acid so that the gatekeeper of the small intestine will open up faster!  This will allow your food to push through the way it is supposed to instead of rotting in your stomach and refluxing back up your esophagus. 

A solution to the dilemma of low stomach acid is to reduce stress (if possible).  Also, consider drinking less water or beverages around your meal time.  You don’t want to wash down your food because a lot of these beverages also dilute your hydrochloric acid.  Try to only have a beverage (preferable pure filtered water) on hand for little sips here and there when needed when you are eating.  Avoid drinking much liquid about 30 min-hour before and after your meals. 

Another natural solution that has helped many people is to take a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar prior to eating.  The natural acidity in the vinegar helps to contribute to your stomach acid and can greatly alleviate Acid Reflux and other issues surrounding LOW stomach acid. 

Additionally, you can supplement with HCl (Hydrochloric acid).**  There are supplements out there that you can easily purchase.  Our family personally takes Betaine Plus HP or Hydrozyme, by Biotics, prior to every meal.  These both contain HCl.   There are also other products that you can buy that have HCl in it to aid digestion.  Just please start slowly with the dose.  You don’t want to overdo it!  (Note: if you try a HCl supplement and you feel funny or feel burning – take a tablespoon of baking soda and dilute it in some water and drink it – this will neutralize the acid if you happen to have taken too much.) 

Some people will only need one supplement, whereas others will need several at each meal.  It is bio-individual.  The way to know what dose is right for you is to slowly increase the dose over a period of several meals until you get to a point where you feel a warming sensation.  This warming sensation shouldn’t be uncomfortable – it just should feel warm.   For example, at the first meal you are trying the supplement out, only take one dose.  See how you feel.  The next meal, take two doses right before you eat and see how that feels and so on.  When you get to that dose that gives you a warming feeling note that amount.  Take one less than whatever that amount was at each meal.  (Example:  If I had a warm feeling when I took 3, I would note that and take 2 now at every meal because I know that is my body’s specific dose.)

I can’t begin to tell you difference that this small aid to our digestion has made in our lives!  It has personally has been remarkable.  We feel better, have more energy and vitality.  I believe that this is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your body – the gift of digestion. 

Goals to strive for:  REDUCE STRESS (if possible), LIMIT BEVERAGE INTAKE AROUND MEALS, CONSIDER SUPPLEMENTING WITH APPLE CIDER VINEGAR OR HYDROCHLORIC ACID SUPPLEMENTS.**

Stay tuned for The GIFT of Great Digestion – Part 2 tomorrow!  Until then, keep on making the BEST choices for your nutrition that you can!

Blessings & health,

Jen

 *Jonathon Wright, MD, came to this conclusion using Heidelberg Gastro Telemetry equipment to check the stomach pH of thousands of patients.  This physically measures the pH in the stomach of the patients.  He has found out that 90% of people are not producing enough HCl (Hydrochloric Acid)

*Dr. George Goodheart, an amazing chiropractor, came to the same conclusion as Dr. Wright using kinesiological analysis and functional assessment. 

**Please note: It is recommended that you consult with your Medical Doctor or Health Care Professional prior to adding any supplementation of any kind into your diet.  Please see my disclaimer.

 

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