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You can eat all the organic fruits, organic vegetables, free-range meat, raw dairy, and fermented foods you want but it if you’re not properly digesting and absorbing those nutrients you’ve wasted a lot of really great food, and money.  Perhaps you’ve worked really hard to change your diet but still have nagging health issues.  It’s possible you’re not getting the full health benefit of the whole foods you’re eating?   They’re simply not being digested and absorbed and end up literally passing right through your system.
Food Choice for Optimum Health

If you’re eating a ‘clean’ diet and are experiencing the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be suffering from poor digestion. 
  • Skin Issues : rashes, hives, acne, eczema, psoriasis
  • Digestion Issues: gas, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, foul stools, undigested food in stools
  • Muscular/Skeletal : joint pain, chronic muscle pain (backache), arthritis
If your diet is not ‘clean’, you need to take care of that first.  A ‘clean’ diet is free from toxins (hydrogenated oil, <a “=”” href=”″ title=”Why You Need to Stop Eating High Fructose Corn Syrup”>high fructose corn syrup, GMO’s, sugar, wheat) and based on properly prepared, nutrient dense, whole foods (organic fruits and vegetables, free-range, grass-fed meat and eggs, raw dairy, fermented foods, and wild-caught fish). 
Proper digestion is a complex bodily function.  One which most of us take for granted.  However, the quality of your digestion is dependent on the choices you make and you have the ability to significantly improve your digestion.   Here’s how;
  • Preparation for digestion
    • Proper Hydration – you need to drink half your body weight in ounces on a daily basis, but generally not more than a gallon daily.  We eat about 1.5 liters of food per day and it takes 7.5 liters of digestive fluids to process that food.  Those digestive fluids are composed primarily of water.
    • Relaxing – proper digestion can only occur in a relaxed state.  Stress shuts-down the digestion process as it moves blood away from digestive organs and to the muscles in preparation for fight or flight.
  • Chewing
Thoroughly chewing food improves the stomachs ability to completely breakdown the foodstuffs.  Teeth physically reduce the food while saliva begins the breakdown of starch.
  • Sufficient Stomach Acid
Contrary to the popular mass-marketing of acid blockers, it’s more likely you are suffering from insufficient stomach acid rather than too much.  This is true even if you are a heartburn sufferer.  Stomach acid is absolutely essential to proper digestion.  It kills bacteria and parasites while completing the breakdown of proteins and carbs.  If you experience digestive issues on a regular basis, find a qualified practitioner to perform a stomach acid challenge or administer a Gastrotest to determine if you have sufficient stomach acid.  Hydrochloric acid supplements can be used to correct a deficiency and will assist your stomach in regaining its normal acid production.
  • Adequate Bile
Once the food leaves the stomach the gallbladder plays an essential role.  The proper digestion of fats is dependent on sufficient good quality bile from the gallbladder.  Bile breaks down fat much like dishwashing liquid dissolves grease.  Clay colored stools or difficulty digesting fats are signs of bile insufficiency.  If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, bile supplements are essential to proper fat digestion.  If bile production is an issue, consider a liver detox and increasing your consumption of organic beets.
  • Pancreatic Enzymes
The pancreas produces enzymes to aid in fat digestion (lipase), protein digestion (protease), and carb digestion (amylase).  A host of vitamins and minerals are required to produce these enzymes, and stress is the biggest obstacle to proper enzyme production.  Eat your daily salad (3 cups) to provide the vitamins and minerals and practice some stress reduction daily.
  • Gut Flora
Gut flora means bacteria.  In the large intestine it is very important to digestion to have a healthy balance of “good” bacteria.  This bacteria consumes waste and produces vitamins K, B1, B2, and B12.  A healthy “good” bacteria colony keeps “bad” bacteria at bay.  To maintain the “good” bacteria you should be consuming probiotics daily.
Digestion and absorption is KEY to your health.  Make the choices that will allow your body to derive maximum benefit from the food you eat.  You will feel the difference!

Written by Peter Wright

This post is part of Fight Back FridayMonday Mania, and Real Food Wednesday.
Photo 1: Oct 8, 2011, Rosalía González Delgado photos, Album: APRENDER ES DIVERTIDO, Picassa Web Albums
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

I’m on a mission to help you prevent and reverse chronic illness by utilizing nutrition to restore your body’s natural balance.

Contact me directly for a free 30 minute consultation.
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

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