If we are going to have a talk about your health it is logical to start the conversation with digestion.
I have noticed over the years that most people today have some digestive issue that they are either dealing with currently or have experienced in the past. Many have been dealing with these symptoms for quite some time with little or no relief, and no real answers. If your digestion is not working you may be gaining weight, yet your body is still starving for nutrition. This can be a scary situation that is being somewhat ignored. If you are or have experienced chronic diarrhea, IBS, Constipation, Bloating, Acid Reflux Nausea, Bad Breath, Weight Gain or Loss, Autoimmune conditions, Joint Pain, Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Mood Swings, Hormonal Imbalances, or simple an overall feeling of unwell your digestion could be a factor.
Let’s start with the basics.
How does this whole system work?
It is important to note that digestion starts before we even put food in our mouths. The aroma of the food alone starts the digestive process. This is one of the reasons our fast food lifestyle is so damaging. When you are not physically preparing your food, the process of smelling the food and thinking about your meal is shortened. This disallows your body time to properly prepare for eating. After your food enters your mouth and you begin chewing, the enzymes in your saliva start to break down carbohydrates. It is important at this time to SLOW DOWN and chew your food. The longer your food remains in your mouth the better. When your food is properly chewed it is now ready to enter the stomach. When you swallow, your food goes down the esophagus where it enters the stomach and interacts with our stomach acids. You have many stomach acids that aid in digestion with the most prevalent being Hydrochloric acid or HCL. HCL is an acidic compound. This acidic environment is essential in breaking down proteins to their smaller usable parts known as amino acids.
Once your food has played around in our stomach acid for a bit it is on to its next adventure in the small intestines. After this acidic, partially digested food, enters the duodenum (first part of the small intestines) the gallbladder releases bile. Bile is a substance made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder until needed. The bile, unlike HCL, is very basic compound. When the acidic food mixture from the stomach reacts with the basic mixture from the gallbladder, an explosive chemical reaction takes place. This explosion is designed to break down the fats in our food.
At this point all your food should be broken down into smaller, more usable parts and is ready to move through the intestinal tract. This is the time that your gut microbes come out to play. Your gut microbes are designed to continue to breakdown food particles utilizing them as food themselves and making them available to the rest of the body as nutrients.
It is important that all these things happen in the right balance to properly move your food through the body. If this happens correctly your food is now ready to move through the small intestines and into the large intestines where the water is extracted, the waste compacted, and you are ready to release it from your body like a champ!
As you can see this process although not too complex has a number of moving parts. Lifestyle, pharmaceutical drugs, stress, illness, and sleep can all play a part in its efficiency.
So, what to do about it?
A green juice cleanse can be a good place to start. By juicing for a few days your body, specifically your intestinal tract, has a chance to rest and digest all of the food currently in the system that it has not been able process fully. This also allows a flood of nutrients into the body without having to digest them out of your food. This is not the whole solution but can be a good start.
After you have had some time to clear out some of the junk, so to speak doing some simple physiological testing to see how your body is functioning and where your imbalances may be would be a good next step. This allows you to see where you could use some temporary support your body up and running again.