Why Digestion Matters
Why Digestion Matters
2400 years ago, Hippocrates said "All Disease begins in the Stomach". Initially, this appears simplistic, but the longer I'm in clinical practice the more I realise this is largely true. The ancients were very paricular on diet regulation in the treatment of disease. Today, more and more research is showing that our biome is greatly implicated in both health and numerous diseases.
Learn What your Body Doesn't Like
One of the most important things is to establish what your body does and doesn't like. What food and drink helps it, and what aggravates or hinders it. After all, we aren't all the same, right? Some people can't have spicy food, others love it. Some people look sideways at cheescake and gain a kilo, other can eat all they want and stay slim.
One of the problems we often encounter is that people assume because they've eaten sometimg their whole life that it's ok. When you're young, everything is working optimally and your body is very resilient. For most people, your digestive system accepts anything you put in it, you can skip meals, be erratic with sleep, do little exercise and still be healthy.
But as we get older, nothing works as well as it once did. And this is where we often see people developing sensitivities to foods they've always eaten. Many people are now diagnosed as gluten intolerant in their 40's or 50's, after eating gluten their whole life. Likewise with various other food sensitivities and allergies.
The good thing is, the body will talk to you if you know how to listen. If you eat a meal, and shortly after feel bloated, heavy, lethargic, or tired, chances are your body doesn't like that meal. If you get wind, bloating, abdominal discomfort, or have loose bowels, your body is telling you it wasn't happy with that meal.
The best way to learn about your digestion is to keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, and importantly, write down if any symptoms appear. For example, if one hour after having a salad for lunch you feel tired with stomach discomfort, and then loose bowels later in the day, write that down.
You don't need to write an essay, just point form of what you've eaten, and any symptoms that appear after.
We do this to see any patterns that appear. For this reason it should be done for at least several weeks. If you suspect a certain food doesn't agree, eliminate it from the diet for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference. If you notice every time you have pasta you fee bloated, then we can establish that pasta is not for you.
What's right for One is Wrong for Another
It's obvious that there are different "Types" of People. Some can eat anything, some are very particular. Some love spicy food, others can't have it. Some require more sleep, others, less. We are all individual, but there are certain Types of Constitutions recognised in Traditional Medicine.
For example, the large person who struggles with weight issues, usually desires sweets and is always sluggish or low in energy. Traditionally, that would be called a "Phlegm Constitution", meaning that their body is more cold and moist, similar to Phlegm.
Conversely, some people run Hot. They need less sleep, eat lots of meat, drink alcohol and coffee, get angry quickly and tend to have a red face. These people are Hot Natured, sometimes called a "Bile Constitution" because their body is more Hot and Dry.
It's obvious in these 2 examples, that what might be good for one is bad for another. The Phlegm person should avoid or limit cold foods and drinks, raw food, excess sweets, and eat more spicy food. While the Hot natured person would benefit from reducing Hot and Spicy food, limiting meat, and eating more cooling foods such as Salads.
5 Important Things to Help your Digestion
- Eat Regularly. The stomach works best with Routine. Try to eat at the same times each day. Avoid eating at irregular times. Avoid skipping meals. Avoid snacking between meals. There are exceptions. For example, Intermittent Fasting can be beneficial, but may not be suitable for everyone.
- Chew your food well. Everything should be like a paste before you swallow. It's a great exercise to chew every mouthful 25 or 30 times, just for 1 week, to learn what well chewed food feels like.
- Avoid Overeating. In modern society, many people eat too much. By chewing your food well, the appetite center in your brain will feel more satisified making it easier to reduce your food intake.
- Dont drink during meals. Drinking while eating is done because people haven't chewed their food properly. There are some exceptions. A little red wine with food can be beneficial to digestion.
- Be happy with Simple Food. Modern society has encouraged us to eat more extravagantly, more variety, and more processed food. It's good to learn to rely more on staples–that is, common food as a basis for your diet, rather than many, many different types of food. That's eacatly how people have lived for 1000's of years, up until recently.
This information is general advice and may not be suited to everyone. Talk to Adam or your Healthcare Professional for more specific advice related to you personally.
9 Rules for Health
9 Rules for Health