We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but that’s actually only a half truth. The saying should really be “you are what you digest,” because without proper digestion, we can not fully benefit from the potential health impacts of the food we eat. In order for nutrients to be absorbed by the body, they have to be properly broken down. This process occurs in the stomach and is accomplished with the help of hydrochloric acid (gastric acid) and the body’s own digestive enzymes. Some health professionals, including North Vancouver naturopathic doctor John Matsen, believe that inefficient digestion is a factor in ALL disease and its improvement is the single best tool for preventative medicine. So, how can you increase your own digestive abilities? See below for a list of simple ways that will help you rest assured you are absorbing all the wonderful nutrients from the food you eat.
- Chew food properly – Stimulates the production of gastric juices and the release of an enzyme in the saliva that begins the breakdown of starchy foods.
- Prevent dilution of hydrochloric acid – don’t drink large amounts of cold fluids with meals as this dilutes digestive juices and causes premature dumping of food into the small intestines.
- Eat smaller, simpler meals, more frequently – to increase metabolism, relieve difficult digestion and balance blood sugar.
- Do not eat with upset or rushed – this can upset the digestive process and lead to malabsorption.
- Eat prior to 7:30 pm – As the digestive process weakens throughout the day, the earlier you eat the higher likelihood that nutrients will be effectively assimilated and absorbed.
- Enhance consumption of digestive enzymes – do so by supplementation or by eating more raw foods, particularly tropical fruits.
- Increase production of hydrochloric acid – begin day with a cup of water mixed with apple cider vinegar or lemon, or supplement with Betaine HCl-.