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You Are What You Digest: 5 Strategies for supporting your digestive system

You Are What You Digest: 5 Strategies for supporting your digestive system

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You Are What You Digest: 5 Strategies for supporting your digestive system

You are what you digest: 5 strategies for supporting your digestive system

They say you are what you eat, but the reality is that you’re really made up of what you digest. These may sound the same, but unfortunately, they are not always. If our digestive systems are not functioning properly, our bodies are unable to fully break down and absorb the nutrients we consume.

If we are prioritizing a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, we want to make sure our cells are able to use all the wonderful nutrients we are providing. We’re going to give you five strategies to help you support proper digestion, but first, let’s discuss how digestion works.

How digestion works

Before we jump into solutions for supporting digestion, we think it’s important to have a baseline understanding of how it works. This understanding will connect you to why we recommend what we do, so we’re not giving you a random to-do list of behavior modifications. Let’s get to it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Large Intestine

The large intestine recycles 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.

5 Strategies for supporting your digestive system

The strategies below are powerful tools that can help you support your digestion. Implement them into your life to keep things moving properly and fuel your cells with all the goodness that nutrient-dense, whole foods have to offer.

1. Reduce stress

Digestion works best when we are in a relaxed (or parasympathetic) state. Avoid fight-or-flight hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which interrupt proper digestion. You can do this several ways, including taking a few deep breaths before eating. For more ideascheck out this blog post on reducing stress. 

2. Slow down and chew your food

This one is vital. 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. Try not eat in the car or in front of the television as these activities tend to make us eat more quickly. Sit down and make your meal the main event!

3. Hydrate

It is important to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day so that your body can properly transport nutrients through your digestive tract. If you have trouble doing this, try finding a water bottle you love (we’re talking pretty colors, fancy straws, the whole nine yards!). It may sound silly, but if you love your water bottle, you might be more likely to carry it around with you and drink throughout the day.

4. Eat fermented foods

Besides being a delicious and fun way to variety to your diet, fermented foods also support your gut. They increase bioavailable nutrients and are easier to digest. The microorganisms they contain support overall gut health. (We wrote this blog post to help you increase the fermented foods in your diet.)

5. Take a walk

Movement is useful not only for reducing stress but also for stimulating the muscle contractions necessary for digestion. If you suffer from slow digestion, a 15-minute walk after each meal is a great way to improve digestion.

Digestion is one of the NTA’s foundations of health. If you’re interested in learning more about digestion and the other foundations, check out the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Online program. 


 

 

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  • How our unmatched education and instructor support sets our NTP program apart from other nutrition programs​​​​​​​
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The Importance of Slowing Down to Support Digestion

The Importance of Slowing Down to Support Digestion

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The Importance of Slowing Down to Support Digestion

The Importance of Slowing Down to Support Digestion Guest Blog Post by Avery Geary, FNTP, RWP NTA Graduate

Today, people often are grabbing food on-the-go and eating as quickly as possible. It is normal to stand up when eating versus sitting down. You may think youre being efficient by choosing to stand and eat or taking ten minutes to have lunch, but it’s actually the opposite. This puts your body in flight or fight” mode (the sympathetic state). This state is not optimal for digestion because your body needs to be relaxed and calm to properly digest food.  

However, with a few simple adjustments, you can slow down and support your bodys ability to digest food well. 

 

Why is digestion important? 

Digestion is the bodys way of breaking down, utilizing and absorbing nutrients from food (1). The digestive system is a north to south process, beginning in the brain and continuing through the large intestines. For the digestive system to work optimallyall of the organs associated need to be functioning properly. 

Every cell that makes up every organ depends on proper digestion to provide nutrients to your body to support its function (1). If you arent ready and prepared to digest, you wont digest your food properly. The good news is there are ways to slow down to help support digestion. By following these tips to slow down, you can ensure you are ready to properly digest the food you are eating.

3 ways to support digestion: Breath, Chew Slowly, Turn off Technology

 

Breathe.

Being in a relaxed state upon eating is one of the best ways to support digestion. Taking three slow deep breaths before eating can support your bodys ability to digest food properly. This allows your body to relax and engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest” state. This state is necessary to help you digest food properly and increase digestive motility (1,2). 

Chew Slowly.

Chewing your food slowly is crucially important for the process of digestion. Chewing food at least 20-30 times before swallowing allows you to thoroughly breakdown the food you are eating, making it easier to digest. Ineffectively chewing or not chewing long enough allows large particles of food to enter the stomach and colon, which can lead to unwanted digestive discomfort (1). Chewing your food well allows you to support easier digestion, leading to less digestive issues such as gas and bloating. 

Turn Off Technology.

Technology can be distracting when eating, taking your focus away from your meal and chewing well. Setting down your phone and turning off the television minimizes these distractions. By creating a distraction-free environment, your brain can effectively activate salivary glands to produce saliva, which begins the digestive process in your mouth (1). 

Through understanding ways to support digestion and the importance of slowing down, you can get the most out of what you eat. Your digestive system will thank you. 

 


 

This article was written by NTA graduate,
Avery Geary, FNTP, RWP.

Avery is a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Restorative Wellness Practitioner working in Sacramento, California. She received her Masters in Nutrition for Wellness from Bastyr University. After experiencing how whole food nutrition has a healing effect on the body, she has committed herself to helping women achieve similar revelations of their own. She helps women balance their hormones and heal their gut through whole-food nutrition, and utilizes lab testing to understand the deeper root causes of her clients’ symptoms to truly heal.

You can find Heather through her website, www.averygearywellness.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 


 

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the NTA. They are intended for general information purposes, and are not to be considered a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Want your recipe or article to be featured on our blog? Email our team Marketing@nutritionaltherapy.com with your full name, article, a short bio in third person, and a headshot. We may feature you in an upcoming blog post.

 

Resources:

  1. Nutritional Therapy (2019). NTP Module 4: Digestion and Elimination. Nutritional Therapy Association. pg. 1-31.
  2. Frøkjaer, J B, et al. Modulation of Vagal Tone Enhances Gastroduodenal Motility and Reduces Somatic Pain Sensitivity.” Neurogastroenterology and Motility : the Official Journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26728182. 
 

 

 


 

 

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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

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The Digestion Process + 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

The Digestion Process + 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

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Home » Posts Tagged "Digestion"

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

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