Food Sensitivities Explained Part III: Optimizing Digestive Function
Here’s a list-style overview of what we’ll be talking about relating to Optimizing Digestive FUNCTION:
Intestinal Lining Health & Gut Microbiome
Note on SIBO
We’ve previously visited the topic of RESTING the Digestive SYSTEM. Both resting of the system (via an elimination diet) AND optimizing digestive function must be happening at the same time if we’re going to heal the entire compromised digestive system and get back to eating most foods.
So when we talk about optimizing digestive function we’re mainly talking about nutrient absorption. Because you’re following an elimination diet followed by the re-intro phase your body is getting lots of good macro and micro nutrients.
But what good do all those nourishing nutrients do for you if your digestive system can’t absorb them so that other body systems can use them? What other body systems? Literally everything that your body does. Nutrition is the foundation for maintaining health.
It’s sort of like a car. You can put gasoline in it (the fuel that it needs to run) but if the fuel can’t be used to create mechanical energy then the car aint moving. Maybe the fuel pump isn’t functioning so the gas can’t get from the engine to the tank. It can’t “absorb” the fuel it’s been given.
Let’s start with environment. How true are these statements of you:
If any of these are true for you then you’re at least sometimes eating food under stress, whether you realize it or not. Remember when we’re talking about stress response we’re talking about physical processes in the body by way of the HPA Axis and the release of cortisol; essentially your body in “fight or flight” mode. And operating in fight or flight mode turns the body’s attention away from digestion. And instead concentrates on increasing your heart rate and your blood pressure.
Resolve right now to come up with ways, maybe with the help of a friend or a health coach, that you can create relaxing, calm, stress free environments while you eat.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
Research has found the evidence-based amount of times to chew hard foods (like nuts) is 40 times. Participants who chewed 40 times, their smaller particles of food were absorbed faster than those participants who chewed 10 or 25 times. Participants who chewed only 10-25 times, their larger particles weren’t absorbed at all, the body just eliminated them!
So, chew your food. 25-40 times. More like 40 for hard to chew foods like nuts.
While the vast majority of nutrient absorption is in the small intestines, the stomach does play a role. And the stomach must be acidic enough for proper nutrient absorption during that stage of digestion. Low stomach acidity is called “hypochlorhydria”.
It can be caused by long term use of PPIs, genetic predispositions, stress, chronic pain, aging, drinking too much liquid with meals, and often it’s found in people with blood type A.
If you have weak or peeling nails, iron deficiency, or undigested food in your poop you may want to consider this issue. Natural sources to encourage appropriate stomach acid levels are:
A more aggressive approach involves taking Bentaine HCL capsules with Pepsin to test your body’s response to this supplemental source of hydrochloric acid. Do NOT use this method with PPIs or antacids or if you have ulcers or ulcerative colitis.
When food transitions from the stomach to the small intestines, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes to break down nutrients in this stage of digestion. To determine if you need supplemental digestive enzymes you can just try plant-based digestive enzymes and see how you feel. Here’s a link to a good one:
Or your functional medicine practitioner can order testing.
Naturally stimulate digestive enzymes with:
Intestinal Lining Health & Gut Microbiome:
We could talk about the gut and gut microbiota for days and days. For our purposes today let’s just highlight a few things:
To re-cap, to Optimize Digestive Function:
Eat in Stress-Free Environments
Chew Your Food
Maintain Adequate Stomach Acids
Maintain Adequate Digestive Enzymes
Support Intestinal Lining Health & the Gut Microbiome
Until next time!
Stephanie Yeager: Passionate about spreading the word of hope and healing for those like her, influencing a paradigm shift in the medical community toward greater understanding of chronic pelvic pain disorders, and prevention initiatives that may protect young women before onset can occur.