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December 23, 2016
When creating a healing plan, the next area to address, after diet, is digestion. Some say we are what we eat, however, we are what we absorb. In today's era of processed and depleted foods, and high stress and fast paced lifestyles, digestion is rarely at an ideal level, and is something we are not taught growing up.
Digestion starts in the mouth. The first way to correct digestion is to make sure to chew all food thoroughly until it is liquid. When you chew, salivary enzymes are released and start breaking down your food before it even reaches your stomach. When we swallow large chunks of food, the particles are not sufficiently coated in the salivary enzymes, and they become harder to break down in the stomach and gut into useable vitamins and minerals, and energy from proteins, fats, and carbs.
Even liquids, including juices, smoothies, and (yes!) water, should be sloshed around in the mouth before being swallowed.
Many people today are given prescriptions to decrease stomach acid. However, many of their issues stem from LOW stomach, not excess stomach acid.
Symptoms of low stomach acid include heartburn, indigestion, GERD, acid reflux, and burping or bloating after meals. Other symptoms include food intolerances, diarrhea, or constipation. Since you need sufficient stomach acid to break down nutrients, low stomach acid can result in malabsorption and malnutrition symptoms including hair loss, fatigue, anemia, dry skin, and other chronic health conditions.
Low stomach acid also facilitates an environment where bugs such as H. Pylori, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), Candida, and other parasites can take root and flourish.
To increase stomach acid, my first go-to is ACV (apple cider vinegar). 1 TBSP of ACV in a glass with a dash of water taken right before meals helps to regulate the pH levels in the stomach. Note that ACV can cause histamine reactions in those with current histamine intolerance issues.
ACV is also good for a plethora of other conditions, including blood sugar balance and helping with allergies. See the "Additional Reading" links below for more information. Note that not all ACV is created equal. Go for a naturally fermented one, made from whole apples, such as Bragg's, found at your local health food store, or at Amazon, here:
Enzymes naturally occur in raw foods. However, many of us eat cooked foods whose enzymes have been destroyed by heat. Also, certain enzymes are created in the body (and are also dependent upon sufficient stomach acid). If you think you could have a digestive disorder (or any other chronic conditions, which are almost always linked to digestion), digestive enzymes should be taken directly before each meal, in addition to ACV or other stomach acid increasing methods. Digestive enzymes help to properly break down carbs, fats, and proteins for utilization by the body. I take these:
If you have an issue with breaking down fats, including problems with liver or gallbladder (and/or a removed gallbladder), the above steps should be taken, along with trying the addition of ox bile in the case of removed gallbladder. See also the links below under "Additional Reading" for more changes to make in order to heal these areas and relieve symptoms.
More Super Foods
Aloe Vera juice is another great super food that can be added for soothing the stomach and healing leaky gut. Just like ACV, Aloe Vera is helpful for so many other issues. I recommend George's Aloe brand, available at your health food store, or at Amazon, below. You only need a small amount per day. More info here.
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