We’re wrapping up our Master The Basics Series right here with Digestion. You can now download all 8 Steps in our FREE E-BOOK below 👇🏼
In today’s article let’s talk about chewing slowly, breathing before bites, enhancing enzyme production, repairing microbiome, and detoxing methods. Each of these topics could be an entire article on their own. I’m just touching the surface to start bringing awareness to them. I’ll dive deeper in separate articles. Make sure you subscribe on the homepage to receive instant releases right to your email!
#1. Chew Your Food 30x
Chewing your food 20-30x before swallowing is an action step I learned a long time ago! The main point is to slow down and chop up that food as much as possible before it enters your digestive tract.
Why? Digestion starts with your saliva. Saliva contains special enzymes that help digest the starches in your food. An enzyme called amylase breaks down starches (complex carbohydrates) into sugars, which your body can more easily absorb. Saliva also contains an enzyme called lingual lipase, which breaks down fats.
Digestion starts with your saliva.
Plus, imagine swallowing a huge clump of food without chewing (many of us have a bad habit of inhaling food). Think about how much work that will take your GI tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine) to break that hunk of food down. Smaller particles = easier to process, absorb, eliminate, and pass through.
Also, you all know it takes time for the stomach to signal to the brain when you’re satisfied or full (15-20 min). That’s because hormones like grehlin and leptin (appetite control) work on a feedback loop. Slowing down allows these hormones to send signals.
So, chew your food slow. I dare you to count to 20-30x. You’ll feel the food disappear before you swallow. Eventually it will become a habit and you won’t have to think about counting.
#2. Breathe Before Bites
Speaking of slowing down, calming yourself before you eat gets you out of a stressed out state, which will mess up your digestion. Emotions and calmness literally change how you digest food. If you’re in a stressed out state, your body will not digest properly. Stress can make the intestinal barrier weaker and allow gut bacteria to enter the body.
There’s also something called the sympathetic nervous system (anxious and heightened) and parasympathetic nervous system (calm and relaxed). The sympathetic nervous system directs blood away from your digestive tract, which slows down digestion. “PNS stimulates digestion through increasing the blood flow directly to your digestive tract. As opposed to the SNS response, your salivary gland is stimulated; increasing the saliva that contains enzymes which aid in the initial chemical process of digestion.” (Eifler)
Maybe this gives deeper meaning for why saying Grace before meals is so important! God says, “Be still.” Slowing down not only helps us to appreciate the nourishment God gave us, but also to set the tone and pace to relax and eat enough, not too much.
So before your first bite stop, be still, say Grace, take a few slow breathes in and out before eating. Allow your nervous system to focus on the act of eating, not the chaos happening in your mind or around you. We know that stress can cause people to gain weight. Wonder if a few slow breathes before eating can make a difference?
#3. Enhance Your Enzymes
Poor nutrition has screwed up our guts. We most likely don’t produce enough enzymes to break down our foods properly. Poor nutrition also means we are probably not eating enough raw fruits and veggies, olive oil, figs, dates, and pineapple, which would provide us with natural enzymes to help break down our foods properly.
I have studied from multiple resources that over 80% of Americans should probably take supplemental enzymes to help break down their food.
What are enzymes?
“Enzymes are complex proteins that act as catalysts in almost every biochemical process that takes place in the body. There are over 5,000 that have been identified by biochemists. There are about 22 digestive enzymes. Enzymes we need to consider when planning our diets are food enzymes like proteases for digesting protein, lipases for digesting fats, and amylases for digesting carbs.” (Nourishing Traditions)
Also, hydrochloric acid is secreted in the stomach, and the main function of hydrochloric acid is to aid food digestion. It converts pepsinogen to pepsin, which breaks down protein present in the food.
Do you need HCL? There’s a good chance. I’ve also read that 80% of people who present with things like acid reflux and indigestion do not produce enough HCL (hydrochloric acid). Here’s a good article about HCL.
You always want to try your best to enhance your enzymes naturally. This is why eating real, whole food is so important! You can also do things like herbs, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, fasting techniques (we’ll talk more below), and enzyme supplementation. I personally take BiOptimizers HCL supplements and it makes a world of a difference.
#4. Repair Your Microbiome
Functional medicine typically focuses on healing the gut before anything else. Your gut is the home of the immune system. The Greek physician and father of medicine, Hippocrates, first said in the third century B.C., “All disease begins in the gut.” “90 percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.” (Brain Maker, pg 7)
“All disease begins in the gut.”Hipppocrates
Microbiome is a popular term you’ve probably heard by now. This is essentially your genetic makeup including microbes, fungi, viruses, and bacteria. For the purposes of digestion, most refer to it in regards to bacteria, or gut bugs, or intestinal flora.
You want “good” bacteria because they are like superheroes that help absorb nutrients, prevent infection, release enzymes, eliminate toxins, control inflammation, and ultimately boost your immune system to prevent or fight off disease.
To heal your gut microbiome you’ll hear about things like:
- Eating fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha tea, pickled fruits and veggies)
- Drinking bone broths
- Fasting to repair your gut lining
- Avoiding antibiotics and pharmaceuticals as much as possible
- Taking prebiotics and probiotics (especially if you have to take antibiotics)
- Identifying yeast issues like candida (listen to my wife’s story here)
- Eliminating parasites (yes it’s common)
- And healing leaky gut (very common). *It’s a condition in which larger particles of partially digested food break through the gut lining.
#5. Detox and Clear Out Your Gut
We have to detox regularly. No matter how healthy we are, if we live in a modern society, we are being exposed to toxins every day. We are exposed to food toxins, environmental toxins, toxins in cleaners, toxins in building materials like our floors, counters, and walls, air pollution, heavy metals, radiation (EMF’s from phones, tablets, computers, WiFi, 5G towers), etc.
There are multiple ways to detox on a regular basis. If you have never completed a major reset, I highly encourage you to do so. If you have never fully cleaned out your gut, it can be really hard to get to the next level. If you have never fully detoxed your fat cells, those toxins are essentially stuck, and it’s really hard to get to the next level. This is why some people feel “capped” with their results.
Our Favorite Detox and Major Reset Methods
#1. Whole30 Detox and Reset
This can be done strictly for 4 weeks and also regularly as a lifestyle. We do both and pretty much live Whole30 as a lifestyle. Read more here. My wife coaches people for 30 day challenges every January, May, and September. Subscribe on our homepage and be the lookout if you want to sign up and join us!
This is a big subject that I still need to write about in a separate article. I covered how I do it in my What I Eat Blog. But there’s a lot to consider and it is NOT for everyone. Even just a 12 hour fast from dinner to breakfast is a great start, and pretty much no risk. If you have low blood sugar, low blood pressure, hormone imbalances, you should always be cautious and ease into increased gaps between meals. Women especially, be careful. Men seem to do better with fasting than women.
Some people set up fasting protocols regularly every week (for example 16 hours every other day), while others may do major resets like 24-72 hours straight with just water and/or bone broth. You’ll really have to discover what’s best for you.
#3. Infrared Sauna
The Infrared Sauna is by far my favorite and next level. You can do it regularly like we do, almost daily. It’s the best investment we ever made into our health. Or you can do intensive 4-8 week programs at 3-4x a week.
I’ve covered a lot of ground here. Don’t feel overwhelmed. The purpose of my Master the Basics series is to get you to understand all of the factors that play into optimal health.
They are simple but not everyone talks about them. Some people over-do one area and completely dismiss or just don’t know about the others. And finally, some claim they are doing everything right but have yet to master the simplest of things like drinking water and eating real food.
One Thing To Keep You Winning
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Start Mastering The Basics today for God’s sake…
And it may just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.
Happy Gut, Vincent Pedre
Brain Maker, David Perlmutter
Nourishing Traditions, Sall Fallon
Ben Warren (Top 10 Tips for Healthy Gut YouTube Video)