The Digestion Process + 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

The Digestion Process + 5 Ways to Improve Digestion


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The Digestion Process + 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

The Digestion Process And 5 Ways To Support Digestion

Every cell that makes up every tissue that makes up every organ depends on the body’s digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs to keep on functioning. Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food. The goal of the digestion process is to reduce food to molecules so small that the nutrients can be absorbed and used by the cells and turned into fuel for the body, otherwise known as, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).

If food is the source of life, why do we suffer from so many digestive dysfunctions like, heartburn, indigestion, slow digestion, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, etc? In this post we will uncover the digestion process so that you can understand how to better support yourself and others to fully absorb the nutrients that are being consumed.


What is the Digestion Process?

Picture this, you feel the grumbling in your stomach and your mouth begins to salivate. You choose your meal based off a craving and then you eat until satiated. So, what happens once you consume the food you eat? What is the digestion process, where does it start, and where does it end?


  1. Brain: Digestion is a north to south process that begins in the brain. The sight and smell of food triggers the salivary glands to begin producing saliva.
  2. Mouth: The mouth is the physical gateway to the digestive system where mechanical and chemical breakdown of the food begins. One solute in saliva is the enzyme, salivary amylase, which begins carbohydrate digestion.
  3. Stomach: Food enters the stomach as bolus. The stomach continues the mechanical breakdown of the bolus, along with a number of chemical activities and turns it into chyme.
  4. Small Intestine: Chyme enters the duodenum and travels through the small intestines and stimulates the production of other enzymes. This is where the bulk of nutrient absorption happens.
  5. Large Intestine: Recycles the water and waste material, which nourishes the colon cells. It captures any lost nutrients that are still available (with the help of the bowel flora) and converts the nutrients to Vitamins K/B1/B2/B12 and butyric acid. Then the remnants form and are eliminated as feces.


Digestion Process Infographic



The Digestive System Organs

The brain, mouth, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines are all involved in the digestive system. But, what about the other assisting digestive system organs?


  • Pancreas – produces pancreatic juices and enzymes to further digestion.
  • Gallbladder – stimulated by Cholecystokinin (CCK) to produce bile for the liver to distribute.
  • Liver – the digestion function of the liver is to secrete bile into the digestive tract to break down fats.


Most Common Digestive Diseases and Disorders

Some common digestive diseases and disorders are Crohn’s, Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, Leaky Gut, SIBO, Candida Overgrowth, GERD, Acid Reflux and Heartburn, etc.


There can be many factors that contribute to developing one of these diseases or disorders. For example, Chris Kresser suggest that dysbiosis, environmental toxins, and diet all play a role.


5 Ways to Improve Digestion

Now that you can see why digestion is important, let’s talk about how to improve digestion and potentially prevent digestive diseases and disorders.


  1. Reduce stress – Digestion occurs under parasympathetic control. Avoid fight-or-flight hormones like, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which prevent digestion.
  2. Slow down and chew your food – This is very important! Eat meals slowly and chew food thoroughly in order to break down carbohydrates and activate other enzymes before moving onto the next stage in digestion.
  3. Hydrate It is important to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day, so that your body can properly transport nutrients through your digestive tract. Limit liquids at mealtime to avoid diluting the gastric juices.
  4. Eat fermented foods – Fermented foods increase bioavailable nutrients and are easier to digest. Consuming fermented foods have also been shown to reduce phytic acid, an anti-nutrient according to a study on food grains.
  5. Go for a walk – Movement is important not only for reducing stress but also for stimulating the natural inflammation and muscle contractions necessary for digestion. If you suffer from slow digestion, a 15 minute walk after each meal would be a great way to improves digestion.


5 Ways To Improve Digestion


Additionally, here is an informational video on the digestion process for visual learners.


During our program, you’ll learn and master the scientific function of each body system, including digestion. You’ll understand how the importance of healthy digestive function and supporting it nutritionally will better empower your clients and aid them to increased health and vitality!


Join us for a Live Webinar with one of our Instructors and Admissions Advisors!

During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
  • If the NTP program is the right fit for you an


5 Foods to Boost Thyroid Health + Common Symptoms, What Tests to Take, and Healthy Levels According to Functional Medicine Experts

5 Foods to Boost Thyroid Health + Common Symptoms, What Tests to Take, and Healthy Levels According to Functional Medicine Experts


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5 Foods to Boost Thyroid Health + Common Symptoms, What Tests to Take, and Healthy Levels According to Functional Medicine Experts

5 Foods For Thyroid Health

Guest post by Janine Martin Horst, NTP and NTA Lead Instructor.

Thyroid health is nuanced and complex. If you suspect that you struggle from similar symptoms to mine, this post is for you. In this post I will uncover:

  • What the thyroid gland is
  • Thyroid symptoms in women specifically
  • Healthy ranges for thyroid levels according to functional medicine experts
  • 5 foods for thyroid health
  • Lifestyle tips to support thyroid health
  • What to look for in a practitioner

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It is one of the primary players in the regulation of metabolism. Two thyroid hormones do most of this work: T4 (inactive) and T3 (active). T3 affects virtually every organ of the body by acting as a modulator of cell functions. 

Although thyroid health is bio-individual, you may be able to see similarities with your own journey that will hopefully provide you with some answers or resources. 


My Thyroid Health Journey

It began in the summer of 2003 when I broke out in hives. I assumed it was the stress of planning a wedding but the wedding came and went and the hives only worsened. I broke out in hives every day for the next 3 years. Prescription antihistamines brought some relief but didn’t fully suppress them. At the same time, I developed asthma. It intensified until I was on five asthma medications and still barely able to function. My body ached all the time and I gained weight despite exercising and eating what was a fairly healthy, whole food, vegetarian diet. 

With the encouragement of a coworker with similar symptoms to mine, I began researching thyroid disorder. The fatigue, the weight gain, the hives or urticaria, and the fact that my body temperature had run cold my entire life were all common thyroid symptoms in women. In particular, they were associated with autoimmune hypothyroid disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

My nurse practitioner was reluctant to run an antibody panel as my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels were normal. At this point, I was so damn sick of being told I was normal. It couldn’t be normal to feel this bad, could it? I wanted to have a baby. How could I do that when I was on so many prescription medications and felt so terrible all the time? 

I was eventually able to get pregnant and gave birth to my first son in 2006 with the help of my allergist. My hives went away just as mysteriously as they began after giving birth. Although, everything else got worse. They told me my thyroid was normal and I didn’t have an obvious thyroid goiter so no one ever palpated to check for a swollen thyroid. Yet, how did normal feel so terrible?


Getting Answers

Finally, after a scary trip to the urgent care, I stumbled across Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Everything they said about nutrition seemed crazy and contrary to what I’d ever known. However, mainstream medicine and nutrition obviously weren’t working for me so I decided to give the crazy ladies a try. I started to eat meat and healthy fat regularly and focused on nutrient-density in my diet. I followed every rabbit trail that book took me on. Consequently, this winding trail led me to explore food allergies, the keto diet, and then the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet in January of 2009. GAPS was my miracle. Gut healing was the true key to resolving most of my symptoms.

Enrolling in the NTA’s certification program in fall of 2009 further deepened and refined my understanding of nutrition, digestion, and how to establish a strong foundation of health for both myself and my nutritional therapy clients. I was still curious about my thyroid though, and in 2010 I decided to order my own labs through Direct Laboratories. The first lab I ordered was a full thyroid hormone panel, including thyroid antibodies, and there it was: a positive TPO or Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody test. As a result, my naturopath confirmed that I did in fact have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or autoimmune hypothyroid just like I had suspected all those years.

Common Hypothyroid Symptoms in Women 

My experience is way too common. Despite being told they are normal, individuals concerned about their thyroid health are often gaslighted by their physicians. Likewise, they are given no hope of improving their health once they have a diagnosis. This is why I decided to focus on thyroid health in my nutritional therapy practice. Here is some of the common and some less common symptoms one might encounter:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Constipation
  • Loss of outer third of the eyebrows
  • Slow Pulse
  • Loss of Ambition
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low body temperature
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Body aches and stiffness
  • Dry skin
  • Facial puffiness
  • Hives or Urticaria
  • Vestibular symptoms like vertigo
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual Irregularities
  • Difficulty breastfeeding

As Isabelle Wentz writes in her book. Hashimoto’s Protocol,” when autoimmunity comes into play, individuals can also fluctuate between hypo and hyper thyroid symptoms and their symptoms may also  “include weight loss, palpitations, anxiety, eye protrusion, tremors, irritability…heat intolerance, and increased appetite.” (Wentz, 2017).


Normal ranges for thyroid levels

It is important to find a practitioner who will interpret your thyroid labs from a functional perspective. Meaning, the hormone levels that allow you to function optimally—and not just waiting until your labs show that your are in a diagnosable disease state. Here are the ranges most functional medicine experts agree are optimal for individuals with thyroid imbalances: (and where most thyroid patients report feeling best):

  • Free T3: Upper half of the reference range (Wentz, 2017)
  • Free T4: Upper half of the reference range (Wentz, 2017)
  • TSH (produced by the pituitary): between 1 and 2 uIU  (Wentz, 2017)
  • Antibodies:

    • TPO (Anti-Thyroid Peroxidase): negative antibody test or below 35 IU/mL if previously elevated (Wentz, 2017)
    • TbAb (Anti-Thyroglobulin): negative antibody test (Wentz, 2017)

5 Foods for Thyroid Health:

Nutrition and lifestyle have a huge impact on thyroid health. That is to say, there are things you can do to support thyroid health and reduce your symptoms of hypo and autoimmune thyroid. There are many amazing foods that support the thyroid and lifestyle changes are instrumental as well. You can feel better!

  1. Nutrient-dense whole foods: eat minimally processed foods that look as much like their plant or animal of origin as possible. Cooked down cruciferous and goitrogenic foods: kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli. Consume: Sweet potatoes, asparagus, plantains, asparagus, carrots, beets, etc. 
  2. Homemade broth: highly nutritious and healing to the gut (gut imbalances are a common trigger for thyroid disease)
  3. Seaweed: high in iodine an essential nutrient for thyroid hormone production
  4. Fermented foods: important for gut health
  5. Water: are you getting enough? Half your body weight in ounces per day should be your goal.

In addition, many people benefit from eliminating potential dietary allergens and autoimmune triggers on a temporary or permanent basis (gluten, dairy, soy, corn, grains, nightshades are a few common ones).  A therapeutic diet such as the GAPS diet, The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, or the Wahls Protocol can help pinpoint your particular food triggers and support your healing process.


Foods For Thyroid Health


Other Lifestyle Tips:

  • Reduce toxins in your environment: transition to non-toxic cosmetics, toiletries and household cleaning supplies. Reduce your electromagnetic frequency exposures by turning off wifi at night or eliminate wifi in your house by wiring all of your devices.
  • Nature: frequent time in nature is calming and nourishing to soul and body
  • Stress reduction: healthy thyroid function depends on a healthy HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis. Stress reduction is essential to the health of this system.
  • Sleep: healthy sleep is not optional. Work on creating a comfortable, cool, device and light free environment for optimal sleep.
  • Meditation: calms the nervous system and helps your body spend more time in a parasympathetic state—our “rest and digest” mode where many essential function occur.

Find the Right Practitioner for You

When I think back on my journey, I applaud myself for walking away from practitioners that didn’t support me the way I needed. But, I wish I had known how to find a supportive practitioner earlier.  Here are some tips for finding a thyroid practitioner:

  • Will they look at your labs from a functional perspective? Will they order all the tests listed above and not just TSH?
  • Are they married to one sort of thyroid medication or are they willing to help you find the one that works best for your bio-individual needs?
  • Are the benefits of nutrition and lifestyle support acknowledged? 
  • Do they take into account your symptoms? Or do they just look at your lab report?
  • Do they believe you can feel better or do they give you hope of improvement?
  • Is there respect for you as the expert on your own body and are they willing to work with you collaboratively to develop a plan for healing?
  • You may benefit from more than one practitioner supporting you.  A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) or Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC) can be a great compliment to your prescribing physician. 

A few resources for finding a thyroid practitioner include:

Nutritional Therapy Association Practitioner List 

The Thyroid Pharmacist Database 

The Institute for Functional Medicine  

Stop the Thyroid Madness 



More about the Author

Janine Martin Horst is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, a certified GAPS Practitioner, an AIP Certified Coach, and a Lead Instructor with the Nutritional Therapy Association. Through her private practice in Salem, Oregon, Taproot Wellness, she specializes in digestion, detoxification, and nutritional support for autoimmune disorders.

Janine is passionate about the transformative powers of good food and targeted nutrient therapy to address all manner of health challenges. She helps clients and students tap into the innate intelligence of the human body to address bio-individual health needs and goals. Janine strongly believes in NTA’s foundational approach to health, combining a solid understanding of ancestral nutrition, bio-individuality, and a whole-body approach to healing.

The NTA classroom is one of her favorite places to be, and witnessing the many “light bulb moments” that take place each year is one of the most fun and powerful experiences of her life. She is honored to be part of each student’s journey and to welcome them into the NTA’s healing community.



Fallon, S., Enig, M.G., (2001). Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Washington D.C.: New Trends Publishing, Inc.

Kharrazian, Datis (2010) Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal. Garden City, NY: Morgan James Publishing

Stop the Thyroid Madness (2005). Optimal lab values: How to interpret your results. Retrieved from: https://stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values/

Wentz, Isabella (2017) Hashimoto’s Protocol. New York, NY. HarperCollins Publishers

Wentz, Isabella (2013) Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause. Wentz, LLC



Join us for a Live Webinar with one of our Instructors and Admissions Advisors!

During this call, you’ll explore and learn:

  • How to create a rewarding career in holistic nutrition that will give you the confidence and competence to replace your full-time income (whether you’re new to nutrition or or using it to enhance your current services)
  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
  • How graduates are successfully using their education and the many career opportunities available to you
  • If the NTP program is the right fit for you and how to move forward in financing your education


How to Write a Newsletter That Converts

How to Write a Newsletter That Converts


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How to Write a Newsletter That Converts

How To Write A Newsletter NTA

How to Write a Newsletter That Converts

A weekly newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with your ideal clients. It shows you are consistent and serious about your business as a nutrition professional. It also gives you a chance to strut your stuff on the regular. If you’ve been building your email list with a lead magnet, you need to nourish your leads so they can get to know, like, and trust you. A weekly newsletter is the best way to do that.


That said, weekly newsletters tend to fall by the wayside. Things get busy, and our intention to send a weekly newsletter turns into a monthly newsletter, and that monthly newsletter turns into a bi-monthly newsletter that we throw together without much thought. Before we know it, we’re sending a random email to our list every third month and we’re getting unsubscribes like crazy because no one remembers who we are!


When you’re only popping into your ideal client’s inboxes sporadically with content that feels rushed, it doesn’t show a high level of commitment, and it definitely won’t keep you top-of-mind.


Today we’re going to show you how to put together a weekly newsletter in minutes that will provide a ton of value and convert your subscribers into paying clients. We’re going to cover everything you need to know, including the technology, timing, length, content and subject, so let’s dive right in!


1. The Technology

It truly doesn’t matter which platform you use to send your newsletters. What matters is that you actually send them! You can use MailChimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or whatever email marketing platform your heart desires.


Do not get hung up on the tech! It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most important thing is that you are consistent and the content within the newsletter is helpful.


2. Timing

Co-schedule analyzed 10 different studies on email marketing, and found that the best days of the week to send emails are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. They found that the best times to send email are 10AM, 8PM – 12AM, 2PM and 6AM.


We’re not convinced the timing matters so much. Like we already said, high-value content and consistency are what really matter.


Take Action: Choose the day of the week and time you are going to send your weekly newsletter. Commit to it and hold yourself accountable.


3. Length

Keep it short, clear, and concise. Ensure that every sentence provides value. No fluff allowed! The worst thing you can do is send a newsletter for the sake of sending a newsletter. Instead, invest time and thought into ensuring you are constantly providing value.


4. Content

First, lead with one piece of original and value driven content that you have created that shows you are an expert in your nutrition niche.


Here’s the big secret: You don’t need to create content specifically for your newsletter. Instead, use your newsletter to share the content you have already created! It could be a video, a Facebook Live, an interview, blog post, or a client story. Whatever it is, it should clearly demonstrate that you are knowledgeable and professional when it comes to nutrition. This will help your subscribers learn that you are capable of helping them with their own health goals.


Next, include one to three pieces of content that are related to your nutrition niche.


Chances are, you’ll be reading nutrition articles yourself to keep up with nutrition news. If so, share these articles and lessons with your subscribers, breaking it down into plain English so they can start acting on the take-aways.


Take Action: keep an ongoing note on your phone or desktop called “Content for Newsletter” and every time you come across something that you think might interest your subscribers, copy and paste the URL link into the note. This will give you constant inspiration to draw from.


5. Subject

In our opinion, this is the second most important thing in a newsletter.


The subject of your newsletter will determine whether someone opens your email or not. Research shows that shorter email subjects get better open rates. So your subject line should also be clear and concise.


Tip: Before sending your email, test different subject lines and their effectiveness using this awesome tool.


And that’s it! You’ve got your scheduled time, you’ve curated highly valuable content, and you have an amazing subject line. You are ready to hit send.


But wait! Notice how we didn’t go into any sales tactics?


That’s because your weekly newsletter isn’t for selling. We can’t stress this enough! The odd time, you might want to sneak in a dedicated email that is separate from your newsletter with information about your upcoming group program, let people know you are accepting new clients, or insert a line about your custom meal planning service. But for the most part, just focus on serving and nourishing your leads. The more they get to know, like, and trust you – the more likely they will be to convert into successful, raving fans. Trust us!


Looking to learn more about how That Clean Life can help you create balanced meal plans and beautiful resources, without all the busywork? Click here to learn more!


5 Simple Tips How To Write A Newsletter That Converts


**Some links may be considered affiliate links, this means that that the NTA may receive a small commission that is utilize in providing free resources to our community. Any product or resource that is promoted is trusted and approved by the NTA.



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Join us for a Live Info Session. One of our Senior Lead Instructors will go in-depth, discussing the differences between our programs. This is a great opportunity for you to get your questions answered!


Faces of the NTA: Meet Allison Mädl

Faces of the NTA: Meet Allison Mädl


Home » Posts by Kelsey McReynolds (Page 4)

Faces of the NTA: Meet Allison Mädl


Learn More About Allison Mädl

I have worked a variety of jobs for the NTA since 2015, and am currently a Co-Lead Instructor for the NTP program and the Student Experience & Curriculum Quality Coordinator. My previous career as a high school English teacher was wonderful, but I started feeling a strong desire to teach more of what I was passionate about: Nutrition!

I could only go so far with that in my English classes, although believe me, I did try to work it in wherever I could. After I graduated from the San Diego NTP program in 2014 and then served as a group leader the next term, I was hopeful that I would get the chance to become part of the Instructor team at the NTA, and sure enough, it worked out!



If I had to describe the NTA in three words I would say: passionate, open-minded, and pioneering. I love working with a group of such dedicated individuals who really see it as an attainable goal to make major change in the world. We utilize cutting-edge research in our curriculum and maintain relevance among the changing trends in the health and wellness industry. And this is big! It is what sets us apart. We seek the truth, rather than seeking justification of our own beliefs. This is what I love the most about our community and why I am proud of the work we do.

Now, a little more about me. My favorite fat is probably butter. Good butter and sea salt really does make anything taste great. I’m not a huge meal planner. Usually, I go the store and buy whatever meats and vegetables look good at the time and then come home and google recipes to make with them. I do have some tried and true meals that I rotate. Many that I make in my Instant Pot come from the cookbook, Pressure Perfect, that I borrowed from a friend. I also use many recipes from Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Fats.

I look forward to hopefully meeting you as a future student, at one of our amazing annual conferences, or even at one of our monthly Teach and Learns that I moderate for our graduate members. All the best to you in your wellness journey!


Allison Madl At Glacier National Park With Her Husband




Want to speak with an instructor? 

Join us for a Live Info Session. One of our Senior Lead Instructors will go in-depth, discussing the differences between our programs. This is a great opportunity for you to get your questions answered and to determine if one of the NTA programs is right for you!



The Human Nervous System and How it Relates to Nutritional Therapy: Watch this Replay with Cathy Eason

The Human Nervous System and How it Relates to Nutritional Therapy: Watch this Replay with Cathy Eason


Home » Posts by Kelsey McReynolds (Page 4)

The Human Nervous System and How it Relates to Nutritional Therapy: Watch this Replay with Cathy Eason

The Human Nervous System And How It Relates To Nutritional Therapy

Have you wondered what is causing your indigestion, heart burn, trouble with elimination, etc? The human nervous system is more important than you may think in the assimilation of nutrients and other vital roles within digestion. 

In this Facebook Live, Cathy shared:

  • + The human nervous system and how it relates to nutritional therapy

  • How an exercised nervous system can improve the assimilation of nutrients

  • Your nervous system’s responsibility in digestion and intuitive eating

  • The anatomy of the human nervous system: Autonomic – Sympathetic and Parasympathetic 

  • And more!



More about Cathy Eason, LMT, NTP, AIP, CGP, CFSP

Cathy Circle

Cathy is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Licensed Massage Therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon as well as a writer, public lecturer, and holistic health practitioner mentor. She has been a Senior NTP Lead Instructor for the NTA for over 12 years and loves witnessing the many successes and incredible works of NTA graduates far and wide. Somewhat of an ‘education junkie’, Cathy has collected many additional credentials over the years but is most aligned as a Certified GAPS Practitioner, Certified AIP Coach, and Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner, bringing her vast knowledge of the human body into her deepening interest in soul and spirit.





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