Q: Dr. Stanislaw, I've heard that good digestion is important for being healthy, especially for people with diabetes. Why is that and how do I improve it?
A: Great Question! There is a lot to that answer so I've covered it in this article below...
Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life! But how often do you actually think about the fact that the nutrients contained in the food you eat are what become your skin, your lungs, even your heart, and every other part of your body?
So how can you make sure you’re absorbing the valuable nutrients contained in your food to keep your body healthy? By having great digestion!
Having good digestion means you have an easy and complete bowel movement first thing in the morning, your belly feels comfortable after you eat without any bloating or pressure, and gas is a rare occurrence. How do you rate?
Digestive complaints are among the most common reasons for doctor visits. Symptoms include constipation (which means no bowel movement for 24 hours is common), bloating, gas, indigestion, persistent diarrhea, and/or irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic poor digestion and malabsorption of vital nutrients can contribute to degenerative diseases, compromised immune status, and nutritional deficiencies….not good things to have.
So, how can you improve your digestion? Here are several effective suggestions I give to my patients on a daily basis:
- Chew! Chew! Chew!....until your food is the consistency of baby food! This makes the nutrients more absorbable. And savor each bite.
- Take a deep breath before you start your meal and throughout your meal to focus on slowing down and being calm as you eat. If your body is in ‘action’ mode, it doesn’t allow for effective digestion.
- Eat calmly and without distractions. Same reasoning as above. (Yes, that means turn the TV off. Turn on some nice music instead. :-)
- Increase fresh vegetables. These gems from nature contain high amounts of fiber, a key component to assisting your body in removing toxins and ensuring you have easy and regular bowel movements. Here are some easy tips to incorporate: Have my famous low-carb flax muffin for breakfast for the fiber. (Email me if you don't have the recipe! It's great! DrJody@DrJodyND.com ) Take fresh cut veggies to work for a snack. Eat more beans and lentils. Eat salads as often as you can; shoot for daily. Always include a vegetable at dinnertime.
- Exercise to stay in your optimal weight. The pressure on the digestive system of excess weight can cause that horrible pain of heartburn, which is a result of stomach acid being pushed up into your esophagus….yuk. (This can also be caused by rushing around at meal times and/or continuing to eat once you feel full. So stay aware when it's time to put your fork down. Just say no to the ‘clean plate club.’ Listen to the actual needs of your body instead.)
- Identify if you eat foods that your body cannot digest well. Dairy products and wheat are the biggest culprits. Other common food issues can be found with corn, soy, eggs, nuts, seafood, and/or citrus. Email me at DrJody@DrJodyND.com if you would like to learn more about this test. I can mail one to you if we decide it’s a good fit for you.
- Increase the healthy bacteria in your gut. ‘Probiotics’ are the healthy bacteria found in your gut which help to maintain intestinal health, and thus optimal digestion. Antibiotics in pill form, or which also can be found in meat and dairy products, kill these important bacteria.
Everything on the above list is actually very simple, but just because a task is ‘simple’ does not always mean it’s easy to carry out. In my practice, I’ve found that what is often more important than the good health advice I prescribe is actually to give my patients the support they need to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Because, if being healthy was easy, everyone would be doing it! If you'd like my help, you can schedule a complementary phone consult here: www.consultwithdrjody.com/type1
Poor digestion should be taken seriously. Less than optimal digestion can contribute to degenerative diseases, compromised immune status, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, autoimmune disease, and toxic overload from substances that are meant to be kept in the confines of the bowel but yet are reabsorbed.
This makes sense if you think about it for a minute…if the nutrients you eat become the cells of your body, if what is being digested and absorbed is healthy stuff, you will likely have a healthy body.
A serious point to consider as well is, if high blood sugars run high consistently over time, they can damage the nerve that communicates to your digestive system. This means that although you are eating, the digestive system does not get the message to digest the food. This causes undigested food to just sit in your stomach. This refers to a complication of diabetes called gastroparesis. The associated symptoms can be nausea, belching, bloating, regurgitation, and/or vomiting. See your doctor if you have these symptoms because they could be related to high blood sugar damage. There are diet suggestions to help reduce symptoms.
The good news is, nerve damage can be reversed to some degree upon normalization of blood sugar levels. There are also supplements that have been shown to reduce neuropathy. Reach out to me if you have questions.
In closing, pick of the few simple suggestions above...such as taking a deep relaxing breath before your first bite as you focus on feeling grateful for your nourishment, and then chew your food until baby bood consistency. Enjoy!
To your health!