Digestion is actually a very complex combination of biological interactions and chemical reactions that takes place simultaneously in the upper gastrointestinal tact (mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum) and the lower gastrointestinal track (small and large intestine).
Interestingly enough, the largest portion of our body’s immune system is our gastrointestinal tract. Supporting the production of acids and the colonies of beneficial bacteria form a literal barrier against invading pathogens.
Once the selected food passes into the mouth, your tongue and teeth are designed to turn large pieces into smaller digestible portions by chewing (mastication). This chewing process infuses the enzymes from the saliva into the food to initiate the chemical process of breaking down the food molecules into an absorbable size. This mastication process also acts as a signal to the remaining portion of the digestive system to prepare for the forth-coming meal.
Remember, your stomach does not have teeth. Digestion begins in the mouth, so chew your food slowly and thoroughly to avoid swallowing a whole food chunk. When you swallow, your food should be the consistency of baby food – basically mush! The better and longer you chew your food, the better the digestion.
Lifestyle has a lot to do with our problems. Avoid the extreme temperatures! Foods consumed at body temperature are better. Too hot or too cold can challenge our digestive system. Most critically are the ice cold drinks of any type. These cold fluids not only dilute the digestive enzymes and acids, but they also lower the temperature of the stomach which essentially halts the digestive process. Hence, your food will rot in your stomach and be of little or no value during the nutrient absorption process that follows the release by the stomach.
For those doubting this concept, simply ask yourself – How many matches you must burn after leaving the restroom? Properly digested foods have a totally different odor than undigested and rotten foods. Just check out the odor and consistency of a baby diaper that was filled by a nursing baby!
However, if you choose to consume a cold beverage with a meal, opt for cold water in limited quantity. Nevertheless, try holding the liquid in your mouth for a sufficient time as to raise the temperature to a higher level prior to swallowing.
Most of us realize the unfortunate side of getting older is that many ‘things’ start to decline. Among these declining ‘things’ is our level of stomach acid. The much needed highly acidic stomach, with its potential hydrogen [pH] level of 4, is the second barrier of defense against invading pathogens as it washes all incoming food in acid. A protective barrier of mucous prevents the hydrochloric acid and pepsin from damaging the stomach while simultaneously allowing for proper food digestion.
Our digestive tract starts with a pH 4 in our stomach, to a 5.7 – 6.7 pH in our small intestine and concluding with our colon at pH 7. Any challenge to the stomach acid pH can easily initiate a destructive domino effect throughout the entire tract.
Supplemental hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and high quality probiotics are often utilized to help re-establish and maintain this much needed acidic environment and its protective defense against undesirable pathogens.
As we push forward from our 30’s onward, we sometimes experience indigestion, heartburn and GERD-type symptoms. Contrary to the mainstream political thinking, this is actually more often caused from a deficiency or reduction in stomach acid and enzymes – NOT the overproduction of acid.
The typical knee-jerk reaction to heartburn and acid reflux type issues is to ingest any one or more of the multitude of “anti-acid” drugs. Identified as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) or H2 blockers (Priolosec, Pepsid, Zantac, Nexium, etc.), these drugs very effectively block your stomach’s ability to produce acid.
One must realize that this ‘acid’ is essential to our immune system and our digestion. Without the adequate quantity of this stomach acid our digestion would be compromised. Further, the ability to breakdown and henceforth properly absorb necessary nutrition for the cellular reproduction of our body would be greatly compromised. This lack of stomach acid, of course, would establish a foundation for an entire list of future health issues.
Because most of our foods are packaged, frozen and/or cooked – there are little or no digestive enzymes. The microwave destroys not only the foods themselves but also any enzymes within the foods. If this damage is not sufficient, the high heat from our stoves and ovens is adequate to substantially reduce or eliminate any available food enzymes.
It is also important to remember that advertising and product labels are designed to appeal to the ‘feel good’ side of our brain and our taste buds – not your overall health. Read with caution!
Typically, our modern foods are generally processed to the extreme and loaded with artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, artificial preservatives, and overladen with synthetic sweeteners and unhealthy fats just to appeal to our ‘tastes’ while maintaining lower food producer costs!
This cadre of low nutritional valued foods coupled with a over abundant amount of highly suspect simple calories sets the ground work for a host of future health challenges.
Processed food containing toxic molecules like Aspartame, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup may also trigger the body to view these substances as foreign invaders. Your body’s immune system responds with the release of powerful antibodies which can go on to cause collateral cellular damage resulting in a vast array of autoimmune diseases.
There are many indicators to help determine if a person is challenged by a low stomach acid level and/or a deficiency in digestive enzymes.
However there is also another point of concern that might also need to be addressed. The problems associated with a hiatal hernia can physically contribute to, or even mimic, the problems often identified as acid reflux or heartburn. Knowing the ’cause’ of the problem is always a good place to start.
You must not ignore the necessary changes to your diet and the way you internalize stress before the real benefits of improved health can be realized.
Natural Health Quest offers a complete Comprehensive Health & Stress Evaluation to help interested people find the underlying cause of their health challenges and the recommendations as to how to positively make these improvements.
Take advantage of this modern and environmentally sound approach to acquiring a healthier tomorrow for yourself. Begin today by receiving the benefits of your personal Comprehensive Health & Stress Evaluation.
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