CHAPTER TWO: Digest your Food
THE P R O B L E M
Your body cannot absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat if the food is not broken down into microscopic particles. This process of breaking down foods is called digestion. Anything you eat that is undigested becomes a toxin to your body, including healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
What would happen if you left food out on a kitchen counter for 3 days? 7 days? Mold and bacteria begins to form on it and then it starts to smell. Flies are attracted and worms appear. Add 98-degrees of body heat and imagine what undigested food particles are doing inside your body. Undigested proteins putrefy (rot). Undigested fats go rancid and undigested carbohydrates ferment.
Without nutrients the body’s organs, muscles, etc., literally starve while chunks of undigested foods clog the intestines. Consider why you crave carbohydrates like sugar and bread. They are easily digested and make you feel satisfied. The problem is that they offer few nutrients, which causes the body to request more food. This can cause a state of being overweight and malnourished at the same time. Telling an overweight person to eat less food is not necessarily a solution to the problem. Instead, a better choice would be to eat healthier foods and take enzymes to make sure the food gets digested.
Understanding the Digestive System
The mouth is where digestion begins. Chewing sets in motion the release of other digestive enzymes (that are like little Pac-men) from the digestive organs. The salivary glands in your mouth secrete an enzyme specifically designed to break down carbohydrates. Your teeth physically break the food down into smaller particles. After the food is swallowed, the esophagus takes the food down to the stomach. Once food arrives in the stomach, it is squeezed and churned by the stomach muscles. The stomach uses special cells called “parietal cells” to secrete hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is necessary for the break down of proteins and the absorption of minerals. Digestive enzymes are also employed in the stomach to break down food into small particles that can be absorbed in the small intestine.
Food is in the stomach for approximately three hours and should leave the stomach being about the consistency of a milkshake. Two important organs in the digestive process are the pancreas and the liver. Every day, the pancreas produces about 3 pints of digestive juices and controls the amount of sugar in the blood. The liver is located on the right side of the upper abdomen. This is the largest internal organ in the body, weighing about 3-4 pounds. The liver performs more than 500 functions, one of which is to help the body digest fats by producing bile salts. The bile salts are stored in the gallbladder.
Primarily, carbohydrates are broken down in the mouth, proteins are broken down in the stomach, and fats are broken down as they pass by the gallbladder. The pancreas is the “polisher” that finishes the digestive process on proteins,
carbohydrates, and fats, hopefully making the foods completely liquid before they progress to the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed.
Contributing Factors to Digestive System Problems
Check any of the following items in the next two sections that apply to you:
Eating unbalanced meals
Inadequate amounts of fiber in the diet
Burping up acid
Eating too quickly or when stressed
Inadequate production of digestive enzymes
Drinking beverages such as alcohol, soft drinks,
and those with caffeine
Frequently hurried or under stress, traveling
Eating cooked, processed foods instead of raw
fresh fruits and vegetables
Possible Symptoms of Digestive System Malfunction
Lack of energy
Loss of appetite or excessive appetite
Body odor and/or bad breath
Belching after meals
Coughing or clearing mucus after a meal
Difficulty digesting certain foods
Bloated, distended upper abdomen
Feeling tired after eating
Heartburn, over-acid stomach
Nervous system problems
DAILY 7 Health Steps: Take enzymes with each meal to digest that meal and take enzymes between meals to help eliminate previous undigested meals.
What is an Enzyme?
Our bodies are amazing biological factories with many processes. Without our knowledge thousands of internal chemical reactions occur every second. One main component of these reactions is enzymes. Enzymes are protein-based substances found in every cell of every living plant and animal, including the human body. Enzymes either start chemical reactions or cause them to run faster. You cannot blink without the activation of the chain of reactions that enzymes provide. All foods you eat need to be digested and enzymes are instrumental in digestion. The body produces some of these enzymes and some are found in foods. However, our body’s ability to create enzymes decreases as we age (70-year-olds may produce as little as half the enzymes they produced at age 20) and food’s natural enzymes can be destroyed when we cook or process our food. These two factors alone indicate the need for enzyme supplementation.
Even if the body produces enough enzymes and the digestion works well, giving aid to the body by providing digestive enzymes before meals will reserve energy for other processes. Supplemental enzymes can aid digestion, dissolve blood clots, fight back pain, decrease swelling, speed up healing, fight wrinkles, stimulate the immune system, and even fight life-threatening diseases. Enzymes are the sparks of life!
Tips for Good Digestion
• Chew your food until liquid. Every bite should be chewed until it is liquid in your mouth. At the very least count 15-20 chews for each bite. Chew even more when chewing meat, crunchy veggies, or foods that don’t easily melt in your mouth. This takes pressure off the digestive organs because the food is easier to digest when it is in liquid form.
• Reduce the amount of liquids you drink while eating. Liquids dilute the body fluids used in digestion. The best choice is to drink a glass of purified water 20-30 minutes before you eat. This will hydrate your tissues and help reduce your appetite. If you must have liquids with the meal, try to have just enough to moisten your foods and hydrate your fiber.
• Do not overeat. Become aware of the signal sent to your mind when your body is satisfied (not necessarily "full", more like two-thirds full). Eating slowly will help this awareness. Overeating puts tremendous strain on the digestive system.
• Sit up straight during and after your meals. Our digestive organs are located in the area of the body that gets compressed when we slouch. Sitting up straight takes physical pressure off of digestive organs so that they can function better.
• Don’t eat when stressed or in a hurry. Your digestive system does not function well when your nervous system is agitated. Your body wants to focus on the digestion after you eat, but will have to supply energy for movement, thought or other processes that occur with stress.
How many enzymes should I take?
This is always a challenging question to answer because each of our bodies is different and every meal you eat is different. Consider starting with 1-2 per meal and take more if the meal is large or has extra meat.
You also might need more if you are still feeling bloated or "gassy". The amount of enzymes you need also depends upon several factors, such as, what type of food you are eating, how much food you are eating, how well your digestion works, how stressed you are, and how much liquid you are having with the meal.
Take enzymes between meals if you want to help rid your body of undigested foods that are clogging your digestive tract. You can always take more after you eat if you didn’t take enough with the meal.
Do we need to take enzymes the rest of our lives?
If you are going to continue to eat cooked, processed, bagged, boxed and canned foods, then YES, we strongly recommend that you keep taking digestive enzymes. If you eat plenty of raw, organic, and unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day of your life, you will probably not need to take as many. Listen to your body. Also, if you are over the age of 35, we encourage you to take them even if you don’t have digestive issues because our enzyme production reduces with age.
When taking enzymes with your meals, you are primarily digesting the food you are eating with that meal; however, enzymes may also be taken between meals to help digest out old food from previous meals. Years of undigested food can be stuck in your digestive tract if you have not been digesting your food properly most of your life.