Updated: Jun 10, 2019
Learning about our digestive system is fascinating and involved. Take a walk with me as I share my naturopath's lore.
I met with my naturopath last week and we had an in depth talk about how the #digestive system works... actually, she talked and I listened 😊. Anyway, I want to share a few interesting things I found out about our amazing bodies and our #digestion process. Apparently, we really become what we absorb. There are lots of scientific studies to support that what we eat and what we place on our skin becomes a part of our cells and body over a certain period of time. In this case, the education was about the food we eat and how it can help us not only survive, but THRIVE. #healthyliving
The cornerstone of any method of healing is the individualized diet . . . nutrition will bring you health, energy and well-being. - James D'Adamo
Where Digestion Begins
One of the crucial pieces of information about digestion is that it starts in the mouth, not in the stomach. So you may find it obvious that chewing your food is an essential first step to help your stomach break it down. Do you chew your food well? Ideally, you would need to chew your food 15+ times per bite, but I didn't really pay attention to chewing... I do now! Start slow and notice how many times you chew each bite the next time you eat… You might be in for a surprise when you discover how soon you get the reflex to swallow. Don’t worry about it. All you need is a little practice and your body will remember this natural process before you know it.
Why is this important? First of all, by properly chewing your food, you put less pressure on the rest of your digestive system and you’ll be able to get more #nutrients from your food. That means you’ll have more energy and more focus. Plus, when your cells function better, you function better too. Keep in mind that chewing your food properly is also important for preventing some serious chronic disease. I’m talking about cardiovascular issues, diabetes and potential mental imbalances like anxiety and depression that are linked to poor digestion. I know, this information surprised me too!
What are the Enzymes
The stomach’s job is to mechanically break down food into long chain molecules. As your stomach empties, the real fun begins. That’s when your small intestine starts to do its magic. Your small intestine is where the enzymes from your pancreas and bile from your gallbladder break down larger molecules of food into smaller or single molecules. Different #enzymes take care of different #macronutrients. Lipase (a pancreatic enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of fats to fatty acids and glycerol or other alcohols) digests fat, protease (also called a peptidase or proteinase) digests protein and amylase (an enzyme, found chiefly in saliva and pancreatic fluid, that converts starch and glycogen into simple sugars) takes care of carbs. Amazingly, the lining of your small intestine is very thin – it has only one layer of cells. It's difficult to imagine something so vital being so thin, but this layer is strong enough to ensure that only the tiniest molecules of digested food pass from the small intestine into the bloodstream.
At this point, your cauliflower is no longer cauliflower – the enzymes have transformed it into tiny pieces of protein, carbohydrate and fat molecules. When your small intestine breaks up the cauliflower, something else happens, the result consists of waste products or indigestible fiber that don’t need to be absorbed in the bloodstream. Therefore, they need to continue their journey to the large intestine. That’s where used hormones, toxins and other by-products are also dumped and excreted.
Why this is important? Periodically, your digestion can become faulty. For example, if you have low stomach acid, your food is not broken down enough for the enzymes to be effective. And a leaky gut causes fatigue, food allergies and so much more. Plus, a lack of enzymes can mean you’re not absorbing the #nutrients that you’re ingesting. There are many simple and effective solutions to optimize your digestion and I promise I’ll get back to you after I learn more about it.
How do Proteins Work
Once the nutrients enter the bloodstream, they are being absorbed by #cell surfaces. Sometimes they even have carrier molecules that help them get where they belong. When the nutrients are absorbed, they diffuse into our cells and they will be used according to our needs. For example, fats are the building blocks of the cell membranes. #Proteins are used for cell signaling, for our immune system, and for every other system in the body.
Why is this important? If you’re eating poor quality fats, too many sugars, and carbohydrates, your cell membrane and proteins are in a pretty bad shape. This means that nutrients may not be able to enter the cells. As a result, poorly functioning cells lead to decreased levels of energy, weight gain, and chronic disease. Ever see a clogged drain?
So our bodies are extremely complex. Over time, old and bad components get out of the body and they’re replaced with nutrients from what you’re currently eating. Since you are constantly producing millions of new cells, it’s very likely that you literally replace your entire body with vibrant, healthy cells. So adopting healthy habits like eating low-carb will help you create these healthy cells and live an amazing life.
In my view, the most common mistake people make when going low-carb is confusing it with the meat & cheese diet. Not true and dairy can have a lot of adverse effects on the body. It took me some time to learn that the low-carb diet also means lots of leafy greens. Plus, #hydration is a very important factor when going low-carb. Your body will need plenty of water to burn through all that protein and fat that you’re feeding it.
Hopefully, this short explanation helps you understand the importance of improving your diet. Also, if you work on reducing the amount of stress in your life and exercise regularly, your cells and your entire body will benefit from these small decisions and you will feel so much better.