You Ate It… But Did You Digest It?

Digestion and assimilation are some of the most important keys to health.  If you can’t digest your food, even if you eat the healthiest diet available, you will eventually suffer greatly due to the lack of nutrition that’s actually able to be used by the body.

Also, did you know that for most people, about 80% of the body’s energy goes to digestion?  If you could improve the efficiency of your digestive system, imagine how much energy you would have left for other things! 

Let’s start with the basics: What is digestion? 

Digestion is the process of breaking down the nutrients in your food into usable components and sending those components to the areas that need them. 

Process of Digestion (simplified):

  1. Look, Smell, Taste.  The process of digestion begins in the brain as soon as you see, smell, taste or even think about food.  Enzymes in the saliva start preparing to mix with that first bite! 
  2. Chew. Chewing is an important part of the digestive process for a couple of reasons.  First, when you chew your food, it gets mixed with the digestive enzymes in the saliva.  Second, your stomach doesn’t have teeth and it cannot break down huge pieces of food.  Once you swallow, it has to contend with what you send down.  It’s ideal to chew until your food is liquid.  Dental issues, stress and feeling rushed during meals can all hinder this process.
  3. Swallow. Swallowed food enters the esophagus and is moved into the stomach
  4. Stomach. Stomach acids (HCL) and digestive enzymes mix with your food and break it down further but it’s still not small enough to go into blood stream.  Leaky guy issues can manifest here.
  5. Liver/Gallbladder. The liver creates bile which is stored in the gallbladder.  When you eat fat, the bile is released and helps to break down the fats.
  6. Pancreas. Many enzymes are found next in the pancreas.  Here your food again mixes with enzymes to break down protein and carbohydrates.
  7. Small Intestine. Next the food goes onto the small intestine.  The small intestine is about 20 feet long and is lined with tons of little villi that can absorb the tiny particles and send them through the blood to the rest of the body (to be used) for various metabolic purposes in the body.
  8. Large Intestine/Colon. What is not used is excreted from the body, assuming there is adequate hydration and fiber in the system.  There should be at least 1 healthy bowel movement per day.

It’s important to note that food that is not properly digested will often stay in the body and rot causing a myriad of symptoms (gas, bloating, skin issues, sick stomach, etc.). 

So how do you know if your digestion is working properly?

Obvious symptoms of poor digestion:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Heart burn/Acid reflux
  • Constipation or loose stool
  • Stomach pain
  • Tired after eating

Less obvious symptoms of poor digestion:

  • Hormone issues (PMS cramps, low sex drive, hot flashes, erectile dysfunction, fertility, etc.)
  • Sleep challenges
  • Stubborn extra pounds
  • Skin issues (acne, rashes, hives, etc.)
  • Nearly all disease conditions are either directly or indirectly related to poor digestion

Common causes of digestive stress/challenges:

  • Overeating. Think about trying to blend up a blender FULL of food.  What happens? There’s not enough room for it to move.  The same can happen when we over eat.  Too much food in the system, even healthy food, can bog down digestion.
  • Eating too many difficult to digest foods. This includes animal products and processed foods.  The body wasn’t created to run primarily on dead flesh, animal secretions and processed foods.
  • Lack of nutrition. This can happen due to either too few calories or non-nutrient dense foods. (For example, there is nothing positive that your body can use from a Pop Tart.).
  • Stress!  When the body is operating in “fight or flight” mode (sympathetic nervous system), it doesn’t digest food easily.  Digestion occurs when we are in the parasympathetic mode.  When we’re in the sympathetic mode (stress), the body is thinking, “Why worry about digesting food if I may not survive?”  Survival takes precedence and digestion moves to the back burner.
  • A microbiome that is out of balance.  The human body is LOADED with bacteria.  Much of these bacteria are healthy and helpful to us, but when the microbiome of the gut is out of balance, digestion is profoundly hindered.
  • Interference fields (IF’s).  IF’s are created when there is a scar, trauma, blow, or any injury to the body while in a low mineral state.  These interference fields can dramatically sedate energetic flow to the digestive tract causing hindered digestion despite much effort. 

What can you do to improve your digestion?

  • Eat more whole food, especially for breakfast
  • Eat more digestible food (plant-based). Avoid animal products and processed foods.
  • Take digestive enzymes with every meal (especially cooked food, meat, dairy or processed foods).  I use/recommend Premier Digest.
  • Take HCL after each meal with water.  I use this every day and recommend it to clients.  Be sure to take it with water.
  • Eat your biggest meal at lunch.  This is when your digestive fire is strongest (from 10am – 2pm).  Early in the morning and later in the afternoon/evening is not the best time for huge meals in most cases.
  • Reduce stress before eating and give yourself enough time to chew each bit. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to take at least a few deep breaths before you start your meal.  This sends a message to the brain that you are safe and in a space where you can relax and digest your food.
  • Drink lots of pure water first thing in the morning and then between meals.  Water is needed by every function of the body, including digestion and elimination.  However taking a lot of water with meals can dilute stomach acid so it’s best to do most of your water first thing in the morning and then between meals.
  • Deal with interference fields. If you suspect that you have interference fields from past injuries, surgeries, scars, traumas, accidents, etc., this can be remedied via medicinal cation packing done here in the New Hope Health Clinic (call for more information: 269-204-6525).

Tomorrow’s body is made by last week’s food choices.  If you want your next brain cells, eye cells, heart cells, integument, etc., to be healthy and high functioning, then you must give yourself the gift of healthy, organic, whole foods, along with doing all you can to ensure efficient digestion.

If you know someone with digestive challenges, please help me spread the word.  We are here to give hope and help to those who are hurting!

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.

Dr. LeAnn Fritz, PhD

Dr. LeAnn is a practitioner, coach, speaker, consultant, and the founder of New Hope Health. She is also the author of The Quantum Weight Loss Blueprint, and Get Healthy Now. She is laser-focused on practical, evidence-based practices to empower her clients to get real results that last. She sets the bar when it comes to radiant health that will change every area of your life forevermore.

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