Monday, April 12, 2010
Poor Digestion? You have an Energy Crisis
Digestion requires energy. How many of us can willing sit quietly to eat? How many of us believe eating is a time to multi-task?
As urbane ambitious people we spend very little energy to digest our food. Our greedy ambitious brains grab at least 20% of our body’s energy output and we willing give it more as we read or work as we eat.
Then many of us are concerned about our weight or body measurements so we choose to lower our caloric food intake resulting in lower energy intake. To further lower our calorie (energy) utilization, we are choosing harder to digest raw or almost raw foods. A high percentage of the raw food we eat is not digested.
But diets of raw, low fat, low carbohydrate foods have become popular as we have come to believe those foods to be best for our health.
A good example of how diet demagoguery can use science to promote it. The Paleo Diet ( http://paleodiet.com/). Proponents of the diet eat the foods of our hunter gatherer ancestor. A diet that our ancestors ate sounds like an good diet for us longing for the simple life. This combination of the raw food diet with Atkins sounds inviting to those who are nostalgic about the past. With visions of wholesome unfettered food and the simple life, we start to stock our freezers with meat (guess the hunter ancestors we are envisioning were living in the ice age) and our refrigerators with vegetables ( with gathering is so much easier with a supermarket near by).
Those of us who have tried low carbohydrate or Atkins diets have found that we can become very dehydrated and those less fortunate found our kidneys really hate protein overload.
But who hasn’t wanted to eat our food in its most natural form, raw, only to find that our stomachs were not so nostalgic.
Raw food and high protein diets take more energy to digest and many of us are just not ready to change our lifestyles enough to accommodate it.
So what diet is best for us. First there is no one size fits all so seeking out professional help is advisable. Call a school of holistic nutrition i.e. http://instituteofholisticnutrition.com/ihn.asp or a directory http://www.enviromedicine.com/index1.htm
To improve our digestion, we need to get more energy to our bellies but where is that energy going to be coming from?
If you are an extreme athlete, are you willing to reduce your practice to give your digestion the extra energy it needs?
If you are on an ambitious run in your career, are you willing to slow down to improve digestion?
Or if you are a consummate thinker or worrier do you have a strategy to lower your brains demands on your body’s energy supply so you can improve your overall health?
If the answer to any or all of the above questions is yes, then you are all set to better digestion. And don’t need to read further.
But if the answer is no or if you chronically experiencing low energy, then instead of redistributing energy we need to increase the amount of energy.
We can add energy directly to the digestive system with digestive enzymes, spices and herbs and by cooking our food. Taking a full spectrum digestive enzyme (my best performing one is Genestra’s Digest Plus) with your meals will give your stomach support in metabolizing the foods you eat.
You can help digestion by starting the metabolic process outside of your stomach by cooking or marinating (vinegar, lemon as in a salad dressing) or salting it.
Yes, cooking reduces the nutritional value of your food but it will add digestive energy to the food. Cooked food is more easily digested and allows our body to utilize more of its nutritional value.
We can also increase our energy supply to our bodies which can increase our digestive energy. They include increasing the time or quality of our sleep, practicing Chi Kung (Chi Kung is the only exercise that nets you more energy), meditation and Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) and increasing the amount of calories in our food intake.
Each one of us will benefit from some of the above suggestions more than others. i.e. cooking our food is great for those of us who are mind active while exercising the belly is better for those of us with slow digestive metabolism..
Some of the suggestions are not suitable for some of us. i.e increasing food intake is not recommended for those with slow metabolism or cooked food is not so beneficial for those of us who suffer from inflammation.
The more aware you are of the characteristics your body and mind, the more effective your choices will be. In the next installment I will try to help you choose some of the suggestions with the help of Ayurveda.