3 Healthy Digestion Habits you can start RIGHT NOW
The inflammation / digestive health connection
The root of all illness is believed by many health discourses to originate in the digestive tract; this is certainly true and worthy of much more attention from each of us. Equally true, is that inflammation lies at the root of all illness – and argued to originate in the digestive tract. Stemming from a unique context of less-than-optimal digestion, personal health contexts, and environmental influences, we see the rise of illness - which is then further fueled by progressively impaired digestion and the accompanying states of nutrient depletion and chronic deficiency. Add 1, 2, or even 40 years into this vicious cycle and you can easily picture what happens – but remember this image is not a certain consequence of aging, instead - it is impaired digestion and the body’s depleted nutritional resources after a prolonged period with very few lifestyle changes along the way.
Once you consider this concept and gain a deeper understanding of the principles of good digestion, you can apply the first principle in this article to your own wellness restoration. Many people – but not yet enough - have experienced a great deal of relief from their various ailments through restoring optimal digestion, and therefore nutrient status. After years of frustration, trying everything, and most importantly - accepting a reduced quality of life as your “normal” over time, this can sometimes seem almost too simple of a solution, and its results - with your dedication and patience, somewhat surreal.
Your individual health and nutrition is marvelously unique, and worth it. If you seek to address a health condition in this way (and maybe others too), or perhaps just ensure your continued health, it is always in your favour to speak with a registered Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or other qualified alternative healthcare provider with whom you are comfortable, and who has a deep understanding of therapeutic nutrition - better yet, also a specialized professional focus on your personal goal(s). That being said, I have included a few practical, accessible tips and healthy habits for improved digestion - from which we can all safely benefit starting now.
3 Healthy Digestion Habits you can start RIGHT NOW!
Skip cool and icy beverages with, and around meals.
This cold liquid literally solidifies the (hopefully healthy) fats in your meal, making them much harder for your digestive “juices” to breakdown, requiring much more time and energy, placing a burden on your digestive resources which leaves them unavailable for the rest of what you ate. Limit cool beverages and even water with your meals – water dilutes your digestive resources, quickly leading to incomplete digestion (and other issues) from the very start. Instead, choose warm green tea, a small portion of soup or even quality wine (not too chilled) with your meals. These choices have been shown to enhance digestion and reduce any possible discomfort.
Get familiar with proper food combining ASAP!
Different foods take different digestive resources, and lengths of time for complete digestion – fat and protein requiring the longest time (several hours at least), and sugars requiring the least amount of time. Since sugars are digested in the stomach so quickly (less than 20 mins), having lots of sugary foods along with lots of fat or protein (plus a cold beverage probably) and you have yourself a solid mass of trapped sugars which can not be properly digested and instead begin to ferment – the cause of much discomfort to come as the body works to pass this through the entire digestive tract. This is only a fraction of the food combining toolkit you really do need, so I will explore that further in an upcoming article!
Get hydrated, stay hydrated & maybe use lemon or apple cider vinegar!
Hydration, at the right times as we discussed, is an understated key to wellness in all cases. Don’t stop at water, think hydrating foods like fresh watery vegetables and fruits, as well as coconut water and healthy fats. You can - and probably should - also opt for a high quality, full spectrum digestive enzyme multiple times each day. In the meantime, you can quickly benefit from improved digestion and digestive enzyme flow by simply adding the fresh juice of a lemon (half or so), or a very small amount of raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to good drinking water on a regular basis.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Digestive Series with Holistic Nutritionist Andrew Gregg!
Written by Andrew Gregg, BHSc., RHN
Andrew is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Director of Clinical Research at dicentra. Andrew’s practice as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist focuses on his special interests in health through optimal nutrition, traditional diets and food combining, digestive health & probiotics, mental wellness, disease prevention and management.
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