The Secret to Enhancing Your Health And 5 Ways To Improve it
Did you know that digestion plays a huge role in our bodies ability to absorb nutrients?
You could have the healthiest diet in the world, but if you are unable to break down and assimilate the nutrients, the results will show up in your body. Digestion is absolutely key to your vitality. When you enhance digestion, you also increase body’s ability to thrive– optimal digestion equals optimal health!
Symptoms Of Weak Digestion
Belching Skin issues (psoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea, etc.)
How Digestion Works
Digestion involves every organ from your mouth to your anus. If one area in this delicate chain is not functioning properly, it causes an imbalance which puts strain on the rest of the system. The main organs involved in digestion are the mouth, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, although other organs are just as important for secreting enzymatic juices necessary for absorption. The stomach is the first major organ in the digestive chain, it’s job is to begin the breakdown process of the food we consume, coating it with enzymes and turning into a substance called chyme. One of the key components involved in this process is the production of an enzyme called pepsinogen and the gastric juice known as hydrochloric acid. Sometimes, diet and lifestyle choices can lead to a decrease in these byproducts causes a host of new problems. Having low HCL increases our susceptibility to harmful bacteria and microorganisms getting past the stomach and making an unwanted home in other places in our body. Low HCL also leads to a decrease in important nutrient absorption such as protein, B12, folic acid, zinc, calcium, magnesium and other minerals; which of course can lead to a multitude of other problems. When it comes to investigating our bodies own digestion, the stomach is one of the first places we look.
How do I know if I have low HCL?
If you have ever taken any form of proton pump inhibitors (medicine used for acid reflux, peptic ulcers, and indigestion), the chances that you have low HCL are much higher. If you follow the typical Standard American Diet (otherwise known as S.A.D.) which is high in processed, refined foods your chances are also higher.
Take the test
There is a quick and easy way to test to see if you have low HCL which you can do at home. What all you need is ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 8 oz of water. Drink this mixture 1st thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If you don’t burp within 5 minutes of taking the solution, you have low HCL. Have no fear, the solution is near! Many people get anxious if they do not burp, where in actuality, this is a great place to be. As it is, here we can identify the 1st source of where our imbalances can lie. This is
5 Ways To Increase Your Digestion Naturally
There are several things you can do in order to improve digestion which cost little to no extra money, and you can start today.
#1 CHEW YOUR FOOD
Chewing your food thoroughly is important for the breakdown of carbohydrates. There is an enzyme called salivary amylase which coats the contents of the food making it easier to digest when it arrives at the small intestine. Chew your food 15-20x for every bite!
#2 EAT MORE FERMENTED FOODS
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria which is crucial to maintaining healthy gut flora. Try adding more fermented beverages like kefir and kombucha as well as foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt
Did you know around 80% of your immunity lies in your gut?
#3 DRINK ACV
Drinking ACV helps digestion by increasing hydrochloric acid which is essential for protein digestion. ACV also slows down the rate at which your stomach empties which increases satiety and helps to stabilize blood sugar. (If you take ACV and you have a burning sensation, you may have high HCL and should discontinue use.) Drink 1 tbs of ACV 15-30 minutes before each meal. You can take it like a shot or dilute it in water.
#4 DIGESTIVE BITTERS
Bitters are natural digestive enzymes. They help to stimulate the natural enzymes our body produces that we may currently be lacking. Bitters are great alternative to taking supplemental digestive enzymes. They stimulate enzyme production, HCL and bile all of which are essential for breakdown and assimilation of the food we consume.
#5 AVOID WATER DURING MEALS
This is quite simple, but its effects can be huge. Try to be mindful of consuming large amounts of water before and during meals. This dilutes the HCL and makes it harder to break down the food. Take bitters as an aperitif before each meal to help stimulate digestive juices. I recommend this intentional brand.
Help! The above isn’t working!
Sometimes our digestion has been off for a long time. Which often means we need to give it an extra boost in order to bring ourselves back to balance. Below are some things you can do to help aid in this process.
#1 Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes are what the body naturally produces in order to help us break down the foods we consume. Sometimes our body isn’t producing enough enzymes which means we aren’t able to utilize the nutrients from the foods. Taking an enzyme supplement before meals can help give your body a boost allowing you to get the nutrients you otherwise wouldn’t be able to digest.
#2 Betaine HCL supplement
Betaine HCL helps the stomach to break down proteins and fat in the foods we consume. Without adequate HCL we do not have the ability to absorb essential nutrients needed for energy production and other functions such as B12, iron, zinc, calcium and other important vitamins. Take one HCL supplement before protein heavy meals only until balanced production is achieved.
IMPORTANT NOTES ON SUPPLEMENTS DO NOT TAKE HCL SUPPLEMENT IF: You are on corticosteroids or anti-inflammatories and if you are taking other medications always consult your doctor first.
Supplements are only to be used to supplement the body until natural homeostasis can be achieved. Taking a supplement of any kind for prolonged periods of time represses the body’s own ability to naturally come back to balance. If you experience a burning during your meal after taking HCL, you may have enough HCL and should discontinue use. If you have no symptom chances are your HCL is low.
Understanding bio-individuality means that there is not a one size fits all approach to health and wellness. If you take any supplement and experience adverse side effects, discontinue the taking the product immediately. Balancing the gut microbiome is key to our overall health and vitality. If there is something happening on the external, it’s really our body trying to let us know we there is something happening internally that needs our attention.
The digestive system is incredibly complex. It’s an incredibly delicate chain interwoven to ensure a state of homeostasis is maintained. If you’ve tried the test and did not burp great news, we know the stomach is not the problem. If do however have symptoms there many other places a health professional can begin to asses.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, my suggestion is always to try the natural approach healing with whole foods first and natural aids second, resorting to synthetic supplements if necessary. I hope you found this article useful and have more awareness of the inner workings of the body understanding that you can take your health into your own hands and learn to heal from within.
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Love and Light,