The moment people put food in their mouths everything changes and they start to think that they have done their duty regarding nutrition, and that the process of digestion is automatic and completely beyond their control and therefore no need for concern. This thought of course is a huge mistake. As a chef please allow me to tell you to eat properly, you need to understand a little something about the digestive process.
Let me begin by explaining a few key points I think you should know right from the beginning. First the alimentary canal is a fascinating, miraculous mechanism, which can deal simultaneously with different foods, subjecting them to various and sometimes very opposing processes.
Secondly, the digestive system quite frankly and sincerely is all about your mouth, oesophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intestine and colon. Each of these gets their help and support from the salivary glands, pancreas, liver and gall bladder. Now here’s a simple break down of each one of them and how it works. Let’s begin with your mouth
While I’m sure you thought the mouth s mostly for tonsil hockey, permit me to redirect your thoughts for a moment by conveying a simple truth about the digestive process. It begins in the mouth and okay I agree and I admit there are other uses for the mouth, but let’s stick with my focus of the digestive process. As you chew your food, it gets mixed with saliva, which is secreted by the salivary glands. Your saliva softens your food and makes it easy for you to swallow, and it also initiates the breakdown of starches into dextrin. Why? Because saliva contains a starch-digesting enzyme called ptyalin. But when you eat starchy foods such as bread, potatoes and rice swallowing in a hurry, the enzyme does not have enough time to convert starch to dextrin, and therefore descends to the stomach unchanged.
This of course interferes with the efficiency of your stomach, which by the way does not contain starch-splitting enzymes, and can cause fermentation along with flatulence. Remember starch is not acted upon again until it reaches your small intestine. Also cellulose which is found in vegetables must be broken down by thorough chewing. Why? Because there is no enzyme that acts on it. Remember if cellulose is not broken down in your mouth, instead of benefiting elimination, it will producer gas, putrefaction and bloating. To complete efficient digestion food must be masticated thoroughly. Now let’s review…
Of course from you mouth, your food goes down the esophagus to your stomach. Your esophagus is a thin tube which pushes food down by rhythmic, motions known as peristalsis. These peristaltic motions continues throughout the digestive tract, and are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, and is affected indirectly by the condition of your central nervous system alone with stress, or a lack there of. Peace and the ability to maintain peace of mind is important to proper digestion, because enzymatic secretions of the intestines are influenced by mood. Remember earlier when I mentioned indigestion and flatulence? I’m sure if you’re one of the millions of people with acid reflux eating in a relaxed, pleasant and unhurried atmosphere, chewing everything thoroughly is near to impossible. Trust me I know what I’m talking about as I was one, who praised God for that little purple pill a few years ago, and now today I’m completely rid of it, and attempting to help you accomplish the same, should you need to do so. And just in case you haven’t heard, a recent discovery by a group of expert dieticians correlated tension, worry and apprehension with indigestion, heartburn and stomach pains. Now tell me something, if you have heartburn and or Acid Reflux would not you agree with this? I’d be willingly to bet the answer is a big fat yes.
YOUR SMALL INTESTINE
Your small intestine is a very coiled tube with a total length of about 22.5 feet (6.5 meters). It extends from the stomach exit (pyloric valve) to the entry of the colon. The first 10 inches (25 cm) of the small intestine is called the duodenum. Its job is to receive pancreatic juice from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder. Bile by the way emulsifies fats and provides the alkaline medium necessary for pancreatic juice to function. In addition, the intestine itself secretes enzymes (sucrose and lactase) which metabolize sugar and milk sugar. All of these juices have the ability to break down various types of foods so that they can be absorbed into the body through the intestinal linings. It’s most important that the flora in the small intestine is kept in a healthy, flourishing state.
Your liver is the largest gland in your body, and it’s located in the upper right portion of your abdomen. It weighs 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) and comprises two lobes. It receives blood supply from both the hepatic artery and portal vein, which also provides it with huge amounts of the oxygen it needs for the many tasks it must perform. One of the chief functions if the liver is the production, of bile, which as mentioned before is either stored in the gallbladder or enters the duodenum directly to help emulsify fats. You cannot digest fatty foods without bile, and that leads me to another very important point regarding your liver, which is inadequate fiber. If you are like most Americans, you eat only about 10 to 20 grams of fiber a day when most experts believe that 20 to 35 grams are ideal for long-term health. Among fibers healthful benefits is its role in moving toxins out o your body. Insoluble fibers, from flaxseed for example, absorbs water in your digestive tract this speeds up transit time (the time it takes materials to move through your intestine) to move waste products out of your body.
Without adequate fiber, up to 90 percent of cholesterol and bile acids will be reabsorbed and recirculated to the liver. This taxes your liver and reduces its fat burning abilities. No matter what the cause, a sluggish, overworked liver does a poor job metabolizing fat, and you gain weight. So to help you change all that I recommend this simple little plan which is very effective. Start with a cranberry juice – water mixture and psyllium or flaxseed as a potent source of phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, catechism, luteins, and quercetin. These powerful phytonutrients act as antioxidants, providing nutritional support and cofactors for the liver’s cytochrome p-450 phase I and phase II detoxification pathways. You will also find that these nutrients also seem to digest fatty globules in the lymph. The above cocktail fiber blocks the absorption of fat, increases fat excretion, and binds toxins so that they are not reabsorbed into your body. Another simple cocktail which is excellent is lemon and hot water. This mixture also benefits bile formation, which is essential for optimal fat metabolism and helps regenerate the liver. It also promotes peristalsis, the movement in the bowels that keeps waste moving along the digestive tract and out of the body for elimination. Again cranberry juice-water mixture and plain water will assist your liver in diluting and expelling the increased body wastes from the two-phase detoxification process. Water helps empty stubborn fat stores because our liver is more efficient at using stored fat for energy when your body is well hydrated. Remember earlier I mentioned flaxseed oil? Well by including flaxseed oil, the process will take advantage of its metabolism-raising action and its ability to attract and bind to the oil-soluble poisons that lodge fatty acids in flaxseed oil also stimulate bile production, which is crucial to the breakdown of fats.
For another key point, take into consideration eggs which are the highest dietary source of several sulfur-based amino acids, including taurine, oysteine, and methionine. These are needed by the liver to regulate bile production. This nutrient-rich food is also a superb source of phosphatidylcholine, a nutrient needed for over all liver health and to make lecithin, which helps prevent cholesterol oxidation harmful to the liver and other organs.
If you’re worried about eggs and heart disease, take note: a dietary analysis published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999 followed nearly 40,000 men and 80,000 women over a period of eight to fourteen years. The study found no evidence of any association between egg consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in healthy men or women, so enjoy up to two eggs a day. And for my final tip on your liver, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and Kale are very high in sulforaphane, a substance your liver uses in converting toxins into nontoxic waste for elimination.
The digestive process is concluded in the colon. The colon, or large intestine, which is larger in diameter than the small intestine, receives the food after digestion and prepares it for elimination. The colon adsorbs water from the fluid mass which arrives from the small intestines and converts it to semi-solid faeces.
Eliminated faeces contain the unabsorbed parts of foods such as cellulose, inorganic matter, toxic substances and dead bacteria, and the residues of digestive secretions. Gases and the waste products of protein metabolism are responsible for the typical odor. Note: A high fiber diet and healthy intestinal flora can prevent the offensive putrefactive odor of faeces, and speed up the digestive process.
THE ASSIMILATION PROCESS
Assimilation is the final stage of food utilization. Food factors are assimilated (become part of the body) in the cells, where they are used for maintenance, repair, new growth and energy. Check your food before you eat! Is it fit to become a part of you? Is it natural, wholesome and nutritious, or refined, processed and denatured. One thing is for certain if you have a sensitive stomach it won’t be hard and or long before you know about it. Having said that, please allow me to offer to you the 10 Tips for Sensitive Stomachs.
Top 10 Tips for Sensitive Stomachs
1. Oranges, grapefruits, melons, bananas and potatoes are best eaten separately, as a small meal all on their own, simply because of their special structure. However eating melons and cantaloupe at the same meal can, cause severe indigestion.
2. Cooked animal proteins and vegetables, or cooked starches with vegetables, are easy on sensitive stomachs.
3. When sugar and protein are combined together, they form waste enzymes which will rot the protein in your stomach and inhibit its metabolism.
4. Cheese and fruit combinations are fine ONLY if you combine some sour fruits in the mix, for example limes, lemons grapefruit and oranges.
5. Pineapple and papaya can be combined with lean animal protein (cheese, chicken, fish) because pineapple contains bromelain and papaya contains papain, two powerful protein-digesting enzymes.
6. Fruits and vegetables are not compatible at the same time and at the same meal.
7. Drinking right after your meal, or two hours later, will dilute your digestive juices and can impair your digestion, which can cause stomach pains and heartburn. During your meals, soup and milk are the least troublesome beverages.
8. Fruits (not acid fruits) are best eaten alone because they are highly alkaline.
9. Hot condiments, such as chili, paprika and even mustard, increase gastric juice secretions, irritate the stomach lining and can lead to ulcers.
10. In general, grains combine very well with dried and fresh vegetables and fruits.
While the above ten tips are very important, its also really important to understand a few additional factors which can and will contribute to your sensitive stomach one way or another. That being said, please also bear in mind the following.
1. Starches require an alkaline medium, which is supplied partly by your mouth and by your intestines. Fats and oils will be digested slowly, mostly in your intestines, and do not interfere much with either protein or starch digestion.
2. You’ll find that sugars are the quickest food to digest; some are even absorbed in your stomach, while most will be absorbed through the intestines.
3. This is good news which simply means that proteins and fats, or starches and fats may be eaten together, as their digestion does not interfere with each other.
4. Proteins and starches are a poor food combination because proteins need an acid medium and starches an alkaline one. These digestive processes are chemically opposed, so when they are eaten together, they stress your system by producing fermentation, flatulence and indigestion.
5. If you’re a young and healthy person with a strong digestion and plenty of stomach acid, you’ll not be affected by protein-starch combinations. However, if you’re an older person or someone with a weak digestion, it will be normal for you to easily develop indigestion, particularly if food is not thoroughly chewed.
6. If you’re like me and you really enjoy a great hamburger with fries, you should be warned. While these two combinations include protein and starch, the potatoes ferment in your stomach and stress it, while waiting for the steak to be digested.
Its really important to remember that correct food combinations are regarded by many nutritionists and chefs as the simplest, most effective way to prevent such common problems as stomach acidity, heartburn, bloating, dyspepsia, headaches, allergies and nervousness. Also people with an extremely sensitive digestion may find the common practice of combining high sugar foods with protein distressing. When you eat a sweet dessert after a juicy steak, for example, the sugar is held up in the stomach until the steak has been digested. In the meantime, for 3 to 5 hours the sugars ferment and bloat, causing indigestion and heartburn. Sugary desserts are best avoided.
If you don’t remember anything in this article, please remember correct food combinations may be the key to easing long-time distress and embarking on a new chapter of personal well-being. All the Best for now!