Do you digest what you eat? by Anni Dahms

On A Diet

Do you digest what you eat? by Anni Dahms

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Do you suffer from swelling, burning throat, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue and headaches? Is your immune system weakened? Do not despair, you can work it out. Most times what you need is just a change in your daily habits to get your health greatly improved.

’’You are what you eat’’ is an old saying that I have been hearing since I was a child, a very spread old saying… But, one day, Ellen Moeller, an old friend of mine, softly corrected me: ’’No, you are not what you eat, you are what you digest’’


Why is it so important to properly digest?

With those sage words Ellen told me during my training as dietician with Eva Lydeking, I have realized how important it is to have a good digestion. I always remind my clients to eat slowly and properly masticate their food, specially if they have stomach problems. Slow mastication must not be turned into a stressful activity. If you eat while being stressed, nutrients in your food and dietary supplements will not be digested in a correct way. Masticating properly your food is as important as breathing. In our daily life, which can be very confused and contaminated nowadays, we must make a big effort in order to not forget about it. Enjoy your meals, be thankful about them and eat slowly. Grant yourself 30-40 minutes to eat and enjoy your food. It is also worthy and helpful to remember another saying that tells us that we must ’’hurry without rushing’’.
Digestion begins in the mouth. That is why it is of great importance to masticate adequately, and also to have good teeth that work all-right. If you find difficult to produce enough saliva, it can be a good idea to drink a little water before meals, though not while eating your foods. Inside the oral cavity, enzyme amylase begins the breakdown of foods, particularly carbohydrates. Food grinding begins in the mouth. The mucous membrane in the mouth possesses lactic acid bacteria that combat attacks from harmful bacteria. When food is masticated until reaching a liquid state, the ground result is digested and can be correctly processed, benefitting our body thanks to a more efficient utilization of food nutrients.
The digestive system consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, colon and rectus. After the digestion process, the kidneys remove wastes and water from the blood to form urine.
If our digestive system does not work adequately, absorption of nutrients from foods and dietary supplements diminishes dramatically. Many nowadays lifestyles are not very healthy and digestive problems are mounting.
The symptoms of a deficient assimilation of nutrients are often loss of hair, fatigue, dry wrinkled skin… etc.

The diet

My great wish, a little naive, I must admit though, is that food manufacturers, governments and authorities commit themselves to producing only food in a respectful way that prioritizes dignity in human and environmental aspects. Food aimed at increasing our wellbeing and improving our health in every detail.
In my opinion, this way of producing our food would save huge quantities of money in medical expenses, and would also benefit our environment.  It would make us more perceptive and keen to start thinking about improving other areas that affect our quality of life.
Minimize the intake of meat and heavy meals. Avoid every form of junk food. Delicious spanish croissants should only be present at the table to celebrate something extraordinary. The same is to be said of other foods such as cakes, hamburgers, fried foods and products with too much sugar or fat. Cheese can also be hard to digest. Lots of people have difficulties with gluten contained in foods. The more processed the food the more our body has to work to breakdown nutrients, apart from needing more enzymes and vitamins for these processes, sometimes we run short of this nutrients. Then we can have health problems such as flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, headache … etc.
If you take liquids with your meals, wait until you have finished eating and do not forget to drink in little sips.
Papaya, as well as pineapple, contains a series of enzymes that contribute to a good absorption of nutrients. There are supplements, pills or tablets, containing these enzymes. Both fruits are very good to help our digestive system decompose foods into nutrients. Many people that have problems of wheat intolerance, can tolerate millet, quinoa, buckwheat, rice or corn.
If you have problems with dairy products, do not forget that there are available lots of tasty milk alternatives such as almond, oat, soya, hemp drink.
One glass of red or white wine can also help improve digestion.



Lots of people think they have an excess stomach acid, but in fact what happens to them is exactly the opposite, they have not enough acid in the stomach. If there is an insufficient amount of stomach acid, foods do not reconvert to make it possible for the intestine to absorb them and, because of this, the body lose proteins, vitamins and minerals.
To guarantee a correct food absorption, taking enzymes could be helpful, they can be found in form of capsules. For example Mave i Form (for the stomach) Solaray´s enzymes, Kal-N-Zyme and digestive enzymes from Terra Nova.
Molkosan, one teaspoon, 2-3 times a week, regulates both insufficiency and too much stomach acid.
Many of us, old and even the youngest, have often stomach dysfunctions. To make it possible for the enzymes to act, it may be necessary to take vitamins and minerals. Most frequent deficiencies are specially B6, zinc and magnesium deficiencies. So take care and remember taking your vitamins/minerals daily.
If you are one of those people that think they do not digest their food adequately, the cause may be in the pancreas. This is due partly because of its many functions and partly because it may be overloaded both emotionally and nutritionally. You can help your pancreas with Carduus Marianus for example Milk Thistle from Solaray, Active Liver from New Nordic and Boldocynara from A. Vogel.
Vitamins supplements of group B, also with B5 and B6, can be beneficial as well. Chromium can also help as well as Liquorice root tea. Do not forget taking good oils.
The small intestine is important, it has an influence on nutrients digestion. If small intestine is not working properly, nutrients absorption can be reduced to a 60%. Then you will need 2-3 times the normal intake of vitamins and minerals.
If your intestines, both small and large, are working correctly with the adequate bacteria, these will provide your digestive system with a great number of vitamins of group B and K vitamin in big quantities. Occasionally taking additional supplements of probiotics may be a good idea, for example Biosym´s Omni Vegan Biotic Balance or Vita Biosa, which consists of 19 plants and fermented probiotics.
Look after your intestine! 70 to 80% of your immune system is depending on it!

Good advices

Here in Spain, we tend to eat late, which is not so good for our digestive system, and surely you have already noticed that nightly sleep worsen when you dinner late.
Sit down, but not in front of the TV or the computer. Eat in an relaxed and cosy environment, and masticate slowly. Do not eat big meals when you find yourself in stressful circunstances. Our mental state is linked to what we eat, which in its turn relates to the way we absorb and use the nutrients in our foods.
If you are to exercize heavily, wait at least one hour after your meals.
Raw Food, where the food is not heated above 42 degrees, can be cleverly combined with lightly prepared food. Other diets are based on separating proteins from starch or minimizing your intake of carbohydrates, the so-called Low Carbohydrate diets. It may be a necessity, at least for a period of time, but I think it is best if you can quietly train yourself to be able to tolerate a little of everything.
If your teeth are not so strong to masticate raw vegetables, it may be a good idea to buy a squeezer, juicer or food processor. You would be able to make many interesting and tasty dishes. If you make juices or blends, remember to ‘’masticate’’ to get them mixed with oral enzymes.
Listen to your digestive system before, during, and after meals and feel where your lack of equilibrium resides. It can be the path to a much greater wellbeing in your daily life.


Have a good digestion!

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