What You Will Learn In This Section:
- What is the first key to staying healthy?
- The power of enzymes
- 7 steps to flawless digestion
The key to maintaining health is a properly functioning digestive system. Simply put, your body must be able to take something from the outside world, break it down into its smallest parts, and absorb those parts to be able to build and repair. It is at the very moment that your body stops doing this that disease or illness begins. Secondary to that, if there is a backup in the sewage system of your body then digestion cannot work properly.
Your stomach actually has two parts. The upper part, also known as the “Cardiac Stomach” is basically a warm, moist chamber where food sits for about 20 minutes after being eaten. While sitting there food enzymes begin to break the food in your stomach down. All foods coming directly from nature are equipped with the proper enzymes to break themselves down. Leave a piece of raw meat out on the counter and it will start to degrade…part of that process is caused by the enzymes going to work. This is the very reason “aged” beef is tender, it is already breaking itself down. Once the food has sat in the upper stomach for a period of time, it drops to the lower part where the body then does the rest of the digestion work, mostly from the work of the liver and the pancreas.
Ideally, this process is a fifty-fifty proposition. Half of digestion is done by your body and half is done by the enzymes that are in the food. But what happens with most of us? Zero percent gets done by the enzymes and we expect our bodies to do all of the digestion work. This happens because the food that we eat no longer contains the enzymes. There are four things that we do to food that kill the enzymes; 1) cooking food over 118 degrees, 2) processing food, 3) microwaving food, and 4) drinking carbonated beverages.
When you ask your body to do all of the digestion work there are 2 important things that may result. First, the food you eat does not get digested completely. Second, and maybe more important, your liver and pancreas become overworked, stressed, and they start to ignore all of their other functions. The liver is responsible for clearing toxins from the body and processing cholesterol. The pancreas is responsible for the body using sugar appropriately and efficiently. Adult Onset Diabetes was rarely seen in this country until we started eating a processed food diet. Now, doctors feel it is only a matter of time before everyone ends up with sugar problems.
Enzymes are compounds within your body and within the food that catalyze or speed a chemical reaction. Some chemical reactions in the body would occur so slowly that they would not be able to sustain life without these vital enzymes. As enzymes deplete, the body’s chemical metabolic reactions slow and tissue repair and building is interrupted. There are two main types of enzymes in the body; digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. We already touched on the digestive enzymes, now let’s discuss metabolic enzymes. The metabolic enzymes are responsible for repair and maintenance of the body. The problem is, both the digestive and metabolic enzymes draw from the same enzyme building blocks. If your body is forced to produce more of the bulky digestive enzymes there will not be enough building blocks then the metabolic enzymes suffer. This is why eating raw food is so important and why it is equally important to use digestive enzyme supplements with cooked food.
There are a number of other things that can also improve digestion. So here are my tips for proper digestion:
- Sit down while you eat (and this coming from a pharmacist!).
- Take 10 long, deep breathes before eating. This will reset the nervous system so that blood flow is diverted from the extremities to the digestive tract where you need it most.
- Chew your food completely before you swallow.
- Do not “preload” your fork with your next bite of food until you are done with the current mouthful.
- Do not drink even moderate amounts of fluids while you are eating (this only dilutes your digestive juices).
- Concentrate on your food with appreciation while you are eating instead of the television or newspaper.
- Consider taking a digestive enzyme with each meal. The plant based digestive enzyme that we use with great success is calledTyler Similase.