7 Tips for Better Digestion

Digestive Wellness – A Game of Pacman

Do you remember playing Pacman as a kid? Trying to gobble all the dots you can without being eaten yourself? Well, digestion is very similar to this in that Pacman serves as your digestive enzymes, and each dot you consume is food. If digestion is as simple as that, how is it possible that GI complications are one of the top reasons people are hospitalized? Is it possible that foods have become harder to digest and our guts are weaker? YES! Let’s take a deeper look…

Unpacking the Digestive Dilemma: From Whole Foods to Big Macs

Intestines with Gut Bacteria on Blackboard

Years ago, foods were generally whole. There was no Big Mac, Baconator, or Crispy Chicken Sandwich (yes, there was a time when they really didn’t exist). If you take a whole food like an apple and slice it, over time, you will notice it will begin to oxidize and digest itself. However, if you cut into a Big Mac and leave it for a decade, it’s likely that it will be just about the same.  Case in point, whole foods have digestive enzymes within them to help us break them down, whereas the Big Mac does not.

What’s the big deal? Doesn’t the pancreas produce digestive enzymes like amylase, lipase, and protease to help us break down foods? Yes, it does, but over time, the body doesn’t produce as many enzymes, and when this happens… UHHH-OHHH. When you can’t digest your foods properly, illnesses like Leaky Gut, Auto-immune Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, Gout, Celiac Disease, and Arthritis can occur.

The Processed Food Paradox: A Cycle of Overindulgence and Medication

The introduction of processed foods goes very deep. The same companies that create the drugs to manage the effects of overindulging in fast food are the same ones behind the companies selling the fast food. What a great business model – make people sick by selling them junk food, then sell them the drugs to “cure” their disease. Unfortunately, many people are in this pharma-fast food washing machine and can’t get out. Below, we’ve provided a guide on how to better digest your foods so you don’t end up as another statistic.

Rule #1: Eat More Whole Foods

What is a whole food? Whole food is food that is non-processed and ideally farmed and raised in a way that uses as few chemicals as possible. A whole potato vs. a potato chip is a great example of a whole food vs. processed. The potato is a whole food, which is very nutritious, whereas the potato chip is processed and has next to no nutritional value.

Rule #2: Use Digestive Enzymes When Consuming Cooked or Processed Foods.

Although some can dedicate their eating patterns to a raw-plant-based diet, most cannot. Cooking foods is not bad, but unfortunately, when we cook foods, the enzymes within the food that would ordinarily help us break them down become denatured, so it’s all on our gut to digest them. By taking (2) Opti-Digestion with each cooked or processed food, we put back in the digestive enzymes we would normally have if we ate whole food or didn’t cook it, so by taking Opti-Digestion, you’re ensuring proper digestion takes place, which means better energy levels and less inflammation.

If you’d like to learn more or order Opti-Digestion, click here.

Rule #3: Chew Your Food

Don’t you remember what your parents said while you were growing up? CHEW YOUR FOOD! Well, they were right. By fully chewing raw foods, you free the enzymes within. Otherwise, they cannot be activated. Think of the enzymes as being trapped behind bars within the cell of the fruit or vegetable, just waiting for your teeth to set them free. Be a hero and chew your foods to rescue more enzymes! You won’t regret it.

Pro Tip: When you think you’ve chewed enough, chew some more!

Rule #4: Eat to 80%

Young and happy woman eating healthy salad sitting on the table with green fresh ingredients indoors

There are a handful of places in the world where people are living well above average while still being very active and healthy. These areas have been studied and are now classified as “blue zones.” Scientists have studied the habits of these people, and among the different areas, they have found several similarities – one being that these people eat until they are 80% full.

We have all heard the saying, “You eat more than you can chew…” As mentioned previously, our body doesn’t have an unlimited amount of digestive enzymes and produces less and less as we age, so it makes sense that we should eat to comfort and not overindulge. If we eat to 120% out of 100%, how can we expect to digest our foods properly? It’s similar to trying to push a square peg through a circle hole, it won’t happen. Bloat, gas, indigestion, and fatigue are all reasonable symptoms to experience if you do this.

Rule #5: Stop Taking Antacids

Rollaids, Tums, Pepsid, and Alkaseltzer are common household names for different antacids. Processed foods, especially those that are fried, greasy, and rich, are incredibly difficult to digest, so the stomach tries to produce more acid to activate more enzymes to digest the food, and this can be rather uncomfortable and cause symptoms such as burning in the esophagus, belching, and sour stomach. By using antacids, you neutralize the acid, but then the food isn’t fully digested either.

The easy solution here is to eat less fried and greasy foods as chronic use of antacids will damage the stomach, and eventually, the stomach acid will be more basic in pH and not be able to activate digestive enzymes to digest food at all, leading to more issues. Another complication of neutralizing stomach acidity is the effects on the immune system. One of the principal components of stomach acidity is to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from going further into the gut, and if the stomach is not acidic enough, it is not able to, therefore increasing your chances of becoming sick.

Before microscopes and modern anatomy, the ancient Chinese knew of the powerful effects of the stomach on digestion. One of the most coveted Acupuncture points, ST-36, world-renowned for its effects on the gut and immune system, increases stomach acidity. With more stomach acid, it means more enzymatic activity to digest and break down foods while also eliminating foreign invaders.

Rule #6: Add Whole Foods to Cooked and Processed Meals.

Just by adding a few whole foods to your meal, you significantly improve your ability to digest the meal overall. Next time you cook, consider adding a side of whole fruits/vegetables.

Rule #7: Balance Your Emotions

This rule is easier said than done, but let us explain further. First, you may be wondering how emotional stress could be linked to digestion. Well, according to the 5-element cycle in Chinese Medicine, each element Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood are connected with different organs. Each organ has its own emotion, and imbalances within each can spell trouble. Although stress can affect each organ individually, the liver tends to be the most affected.

One of the most common TCM diagnoses is Liver Qi Stagnation, and it could be said that we all have some. The liver is responsible for the free flow of qi, and when the body is under stress, the qi stagnates. If qi is not circulating well, it can cause issues systematically, especially for the digestive system. In the 5-element cycle, each organ generates each other, and then they all control and potentially counteract one another. If the Liver Qi is stagnated and excessive, it can easily invade the earth, which dominates the spleen and stomach. When the liver qi overcontrols the earth, it’s very hard to digest properly, and syndromes like IBS arise. So, what do you do to calm the liver? Acupuncture works very well to help soothe the liver, and a combination of points, such as the “4 Gates,” is a great place to start. A Chinese Herbal Formula such as Tong Xia Yao Fang would be indicated for a case of the liver invading the spleen. Opti-Adrenal is another formula that can be used to help the body better handle stress, and when the liver is calm, digestion can be had peacefully.

Food for bowel Health. Kefir, Bifidobacteria, greens, apples, fiber, dried fruits, nuts, pepper, whole bread, cereals, broccoli chickpeas flax seed Isolate on a white background

Wu Wei Wellness – Your Companion in Your Digestive Wellness Journey

In closing, when you look at a nutrition label and see the amount of nutrients inside, that’s with the understanding that you fully break down and absorb the food. With all of this now understood, do you think that you’re absorbing all of your foods properly? Do you think the body can heal or operate optimally if it isn’t getting what it needs to do so? When was the last time your doctor discussed digestion with you as a treatment method?

The practitioners at Wu Wei Wellness take a holistic approach to wellness, and it’s one of the many reasons why “miracles” happen frequently here. If you’re not feeling well and don’t know where to start, give us a call and let the team at Wu Wei guide you to the path of healing.

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