Acupuncture Victoria BC – You are what you digest

For most people the understanding of the process of digestion begins and ends at the mouth.  If it tasted good swallow it down.  This simple approach might have worked when we were young, but by middle age it gets harder to ignore the grumblings of the gut.

Digestion is a complex processes involving both the mind and body.  When mind and body are out of sync likely we are not present to what we are eating or anything else for that matter.  Most people eat on the run between various appointments or while multi tasking.  Good digestion is virtually impossible when feeling stressed or rushed.

Even if you are eating good quality food it is hard to fully reap the benefits until you SLOW DOWN.   When the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, known as fight or flight mode, bodily resources are shunted away from the gut to prepare the cardio vascular system and large muscles for action.   Healthy digestion happens when we are in rest and digest mode, or a para-sympathetic state.

Take time to prepare and eat meals in an unhurried and harmonious environment.  Food is meant to be enjoyed, particularly with people we love and who’s company we enjoy.  In a relaxed state even poor food choices can provide some nourishment, if only on a psychological level.

Boast your digestive enzymes and probiotic power to drop the weight

Excess weight is a sign of slow metabolism and weak digestion.  The standard North American diet is a challenge for even the hardiest of eaters.  A high carbohydrate and meat based diet depletes the body of the pancreatic enzymes.  Enzymes are catalysts essential to breaking food down so it can be absorbed by the body.

Fresh fruits, veggies and sprouts come prepackaged with enzymes to aid digestion.  Unfortunately, many of these enzymes are heat sensitive and are destroyed in the cooking process.  This problem is often used to promote the benefits of a raw food diet.  However, according to Chinese Medicine and other healing traditions that recognize the thermal nature of food and herbs, raw food is particularly cooling and hard on the gut.

Raw food in large quantities will certainly make weak digestion worse. On the other hand a small amount of fresh veggies and fruit in the diet can help detoxify and recharge the body with vitalizing enzymes.  As a rule half of you plate should include fresh, lightly steamed veggies.  In particular, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage are most beneficial.

Current research suggests that the micro flora inhabiting the digestive tract plays a critical role in health. It is interesting to note that this symbiotic community of micro organisms in the body out numbers our own cells 10:1.  This inner eco system is responsible for not only the assimilation of key nutrients from food, but also for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin.

Through the over use of antibiotics and other drugs in combination with poor eating habits an imbalance is created in the gut flora known as dysbiosis.  When beneficial bacteria is killed off harmful opportunistic organisms (viruses, fungi, yeasts and parasites) take over and colonize the digestive tract.  This negative biome robs the body of nutrients and produces powerful toxins impacting the whole body, but particularly the brain.

Many chronic health problems can be linked to dysbiosis including weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), addictions, allergies, auto immune reactions, autism, depression, cognitive and motor impairments and a host of other idiopathic conditions affecting the brain and gut.

To correct dysbiosis we essentially need to reverse the conditions that created the problem.  This means adding probiotic rich foods into the diet and limiting the consumption of simple carbs and sugar that feed the bad organisms in the gut.  It may also be helpful to do light cleansing and take natural immune boasters to help kill off lingering pathogens.

Traditional cultures from across the globe always include some form of fermented foods in the diet to supplement the beneficial intestinal micro flora.  Sauerkraut, kimchi, nato, miso kaavas, kefir, yogurt and kombucha are some examples of probiotic foods to add to the foundation of your eating regime.  It is important to use unpasteurized fermented products to get the full benefit of these foods

Action steps

  • Put lunch and dinner in your scheduler.  Take the time to plan, prepare and eat your meals in an unhurried, relaxed way.
  • Make your meals an opportunity to connect with the ones you love.
  • Make 50% of your plate lightly cooked vegetables and eat raw veggies and fruit in moderation
  • Include some probiotic food with at least one meal of the day
  • Use a broad spectrum digestive enzyme (with HCL) with each meal.  Take acidophilus DDS is you are not able to consume probiotic foods on a regular basis.

This article is an excerpt from the forthcoming ebook Buddha’s Belly, Five steps to natural weight management and a healthy digestion by Awakening Wellness staff member Silas Rosenblatt, R Ac

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