The magic of digestion and digestive health diet!

When you introduce food or liquid into your system, it becomes a part of your body and that is why your food choices, play a central role in maintaining your overall health.

What is a digestive health diet?

 

Without a healthy, well-functioning digestive tract, even the best dietary habits will do us little good as our body struggles to process the essential nutrients locked away in our food. If we cannot fully absorb what we eat, our body will be more prone to digestive problems, infections, fatigue, and skin conditions. Digestion plays a fundamental role in our overall health and wellbeing.

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Let’s start from the beginning, what is the digestive system?

digestive health diet

A digestive system is a group of organs working together to convert food into energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body. Food passes through a long tube inside the body known as the gastrointestinal tract.

The alimentary canal is made up of the oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines.

In addition to the alimentary canal, there are several important accessory organs that help your body to digest food even though food does not pass through these organs. Accessory organs of the digestive system include the teeth, tongue, salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

“Strong digestion is key to Health and Longevity”

 

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The Ayurvedic perspective for a digestive health diet

Ayurveda means ‘the science of life’, and is the ancient science of healing in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda is a vast subject in itself, and that is why we are not going to go deep into this area now, but instead, give you enough insight to give you some understanding on the matter. 

According to Ayurveda, the digestive fire is called “agni”. When your agni is strong you have more energy, and it helps the body detoxify efficiently. With strong agni, you are free from digestive symptoms such as bloating, acid reflux or constipation. When you have poor agni, you will experience the opposite. This is why having a strong digestive fire is essential to your energy levels.

In Ayurveda, everyone has a constitution (known as a dosha), an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics. Each of us has all three of these doshas, although one or two tend to be predominant. When they are in balance, the doshas promote the normal functions of the body and maintain overall health.

The 3 constitutions

Vata is the energy associated with bodily movement and is made of air and space. It is dry, light, mobile, and cold. Those with excess Vata can suffer from irregular digestion, flatulence, constipation, burping, anxiety, fear, asthma and arthritis. Therefore, they are advised to eat warm, nourishing, and cooked food, avoiding dry, cold, frozen and raw food. 

Pitta represents the fire and water elements of the body. Pitta imbalances include hyperacidity, ulcers, rashes, chronic fatigue, colitis, heartburn, a tendency to have diarrhoea, gout, gastritis, skin problems and inflammations, anger and impatience. Since an excess of Pitta overheats the mind and body, favouring raw and cool foods and liquids, is highly advisable.

Kapha represents earth and water, and it is heavy, cold, wet and has a static quality. Excess Kapha can cause obesity, sluggish and weak digestion, excess mucus, congestion, high cholesterol, diabetes, oedema, asthma, laziness, sadness, and depression. A diet low in carbohydrates is recommended, avoiding dairy, cold food, and drinks. 

Each Dosha requires a variety of foods and should correlate to the time of the day and the season: e.g. heavier food in winter and light choices in the evening. The use of spices is in accordance with the time of the day (e.g. noon is dominated by Pitta) and your personal constitution. 

If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, click here for this useful and informative info. (source  “Banyan Botanical”)

Food combining for digestive health diet

Food combining = eating certain foods together so as to improve the digestive process. Eating a large variety of foods at one sitting forces the digestive system to try to accommodate different types of nutrients. Improper food combination is one of the main factors that cause gas, flatulence, heartburn and stomach pain. Even food that we usually tolerate, will adversely affect the digestion, slowing it down. What is worse, poor digestion can contribute to malnutrition, even if you follow a decent diet. 

Food combination

  1. Carbohydrates + Proteins = Poor Digestion
  2. Carbohydrates + Fats = Good Digestion
  3. Carbohydrates + High Water Content Veggies =Good Digestion
  4. Proteins + Fats =Poor Digestion
  5. Proteins + High Water Content Veggies =Good Digestion
  6. Fats + High Water Content Veggies =Good Digestion 
  7. Fruit = Always eat fruits on an empty stomach or at least 20 minutes before eating anything else. Fruit contains fibres, which requires longer digestion.

Negative Emotions

Phobias, anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, traumas, stress and irrational fears are present in nearly everyone. Most of these unconscious issues can be traced back to the first time the person experienced a negative situation whilst leaving a negative imprint on the mind. Negative thoughts weaken our body.

We may ’forget’ an individual stressful incident but our bio-computer stores the information and remembers the stress every time we encounter a similar situation. The result is a cumulative effect that leads to our being in stress (distress) almost continually.

While the serotonin in your brain regulates mood, in the gut, it promotes the growth of nerve cells and alerts the immune system to foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. Serotonin also keeps the two systems in constant communication, so when stress hits, it’s no wonder your stomach starts to churn or that digestive problems make you depressed and anxious.

Emotional upsets can be the cause of your digestive problems.

“Your gut is quite literally your second brain, as they originate from the same type of tissue. Your gut and your brain work in tandem, each influencing each other. And this is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa”

 

Plant-based food (vegan diet) as a digestive health diet

If you are suffering from digestive issues, you may find that switching to a plant-based diet can ease, or perhaps completely eliminate, your digestive complaints. This is likely due in part to the fact that most meats and dairy products are particularly acids producing and more difficult for your stomach to digest. In fact, dairy can aggravate IBS and can cause sinus problems, constipation, infections and headaches. 

Carnivore animals have short intestinal tracts that allow meat to pass quickly through their digestive system. Humans’ intestinal tract is 10-12 times our body length, allowing the meat to rot and the bacteria in meat to multiply during the long trip through the digestive system, increasing the risk of food allergies and digestive problems.

An incorrect diet and lifestyle can weaken the digestive system, and after 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of following an omnivorous diet low in fibre and important nutrients, your intestine doesn’t have all the good important bacteria required to break down fibres. Switching to a vegan diet (plant-based) can be a stress for the body, as our gut flora has to adapt to the sudden change in diet. Your body will need to get used to foods high in fibre such as vegetables and fruits in order to maintain a smooth digestive transition.

With a plant-based diet, you are also eating more raw foods that will help reduce inflammation and provide essential digestive enzymes. Not only do these enzymes digest and/or break down food, but they also help your body absorb the essential nutrients contained in your foods. So in order to get the full benefit of your healthy, plant-based diet, it is also important to ensure that your gut is “well-stocked” with critical enzymes.

 

Digestive health diet Rules 

If you try and follow these rules as closely as you can, you will undoubtedly feel the maximum benefits from the hard work you put into it.

Eat only when you are hungry. Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. And this goes for any meal. Be in tune with your body and re-discover how it feels to be really hungry.
Eat in a calm place. Eating should be a sacred time of the day. Try to find a quiet place and avoid excessive conversation, television, computers and loud music.
Eat your biggest meal at midday. The digestive fire, like the sun, is at its strongest point at this time of the day and meal will be digested better than at other times of the day.
Eat warm meals. Warm meals (not hot) are essential for a healthy digestion. Cold food and drink destroy the digestive fire and decrease digestion benefits.
Drink warm water with ginger and lemon, or herbal teas frequently throughout the day. By sipping warm water throughout the day, you help cleanse the digestive tract and entire body of blockages and impurities. Warm water improves digestion and absorption of food.
Do not drink cold drinks just prior to eating. This weakens digestion.
Watch the quantities. One should not eat more than 2/3 of the size of your stomach (about the size of both fists closed and fitted together). 1/3 of the stomach should stay empty as it is needed to allow proper digestion.
Follow food combining. Improper food combining in the short term can cause gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, headaches and stomach cramps.
Allow three hours between meals to allow your food to digest properly. This allows the previous meal to be fully digested.

 

 

How Kinesiology can help

Kinesiology is a wonderful technique that uses the action of muscle testing to discover the real cause of your digestive problem or the underlying cause of a particular health issue. Kinesiology looks at the whole person, as quite often the root of the problem is not where the discomfort or pain is found. For example, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) could be caused by an emotional issue and/or a food intolerance or a painful issue in the lower back may be caused because of an imbalance in the intestines and so forth. Kinesiology can assess a person’s nutritional status, including food intolerances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and other chemical sensitivities. Ultimately, we are what we eat and how we utilise our nutrition. Kinesiology can help determine what works best for you.

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