Ah, digestion, everyone's favorite topic. Joking! But it is an important and essential part of your daily life. Having optimal digestion means your body can break down foods properly and actually absorb the nutrients you’re trying to give it. There’s a lot people don’t know about digestion and that’s what we’re going to dive into in this post. There’s also plenty of factors that can disrupt your digestion that you may be unaware of like stress for example but we’ll talk more about that below!
If you struggle with indigestion, bloating, lack of energy, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn or acid reflux you may have a digestive issue and these 5 things you didn’t know about digestion will help you to get rid of these annoying and painful symptoms. K, let’s dive in…
1. Digestion starts when you look at your food
Your mouth starts salivating which is the first process of digestion. Weird right? Before you even put anything into your mouth you're already starting to digest it. Chewing is also a major part of the digestion process that gets overlooked and it is essential for breaking down carbs and fat. If you're feeling bloated after eating try slowing down, chewing for longer and taking a more mindful approach to eating your food.
2. Your body isn’t absorbing nutrients
You could be eating all the right things and still feeling pretty crappy. Why, you ask? Your body isn’t absorbing the nutrients you’re trying to give it. This is common when you’re experiencing leaky gut [read more about that here]. If you have leaky gut or “intestinal permeability” your gut lining essentially has some holes that are allowing undigested foods, waste and bacteria to get into the bloodstream. Yikes! If undigested food particles are floating around in your bloodstream they definitely aren’t going towards nourishing your body and they’re actually causing an inflammatory response because your body thinks it’s a predator it needs to fight off. This causes a lot of problems and a lot of annoying symptoms. For your body to be able to absorb the nutrients you’re trying to give it you need to heal your gut - I teach exactly how to do this inside the Gut Calm Blueprint online membership! Learn more about it HERE.
<< Does this sound like something you might be dealing with? Find out if you suffer from leaky gut by taking this free gut health quiz! >>
3. Stress wreaks havoc on digestion
For your body to be able to do its job it needs to feel calm, relaxed and safe and if you’re stressed out or anxious your body is in a fight or flight mode meaning it doesn’t feel calm, relaxed or safe. It’s busy trying to fight off whatever it thinks is attacking it which means it’s focusing on something other than digesting food. As complex as the body is, it’s processes can be laid out simply - just like we all like to think we can multitask so does our body and we all know how that goes… you do a lot of things but sort of half-assed rather than doing one thing really well. Your body is the same, if you have it try and do too many things at once your digestion is going to take a hit. It needs to solely focus on digesting your food for it to begin to heal and work properly. Mindful eating comes into play here and this may sound woo-woo but it makes perfect sense. Take time eating your food, savoring it and enjoying the whole process while consuming. Take a few breaths to calm yourself and let go of any stress before eating, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel mentally and physically.
4. Small intestine does the most work
Many people think your stomach is the pain part of the digestion process using the acid to break down the foods but while it’s essential it’s not the biggest component. Your small intestine, of all things, is what’s doing most of the work. After you chew your food into smaller portions your stomach breaks down your food into even smaller portions and then your small intestine does the majority of the ‘breaking down’ process using enzymes and then absorbing those tiny particles and using them as nutrients for the body. This is why that leaky gut conversation we had earlier is so important. If the lining of your intestines are allowing these small particles to just pass through then the food hasn’t actually been digested yet and your body can’t use it for energy or anything and it just floats around wreaking havoc on your system.
<< Take this quiz to find out if you suffer from leaky gut [here] >>
5. Fiber can actually cause issues with digestion
Fiber is known for keeping the digestive tract running smoothly but too much fiber can do the complete opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you suffer from an intestinal disorder such as IBS your doctor may recommend upping your fiber intake however, some fibrous foods can increase bloating and gas production. If your digestive tract isn’t working well to begin with, adding more fiber can cause constipation and gas build up which is not a fun combo. I'm talking knives-in-your-stomach kind of pain. You’ll want to be careful adding fiber supplements into your diet and if you do definitely start off slowly. The only one I recommend is psyllium husk in it’s plain form. This is the active ingredient in Metamucil but without all of the extra fake, chemical-like substances attached. However, you don’t want to rely on a fiber supplement and if your gut is out of whack they probably won’t help much. Healing your gut is the only answer for optimal digestion and getting rid of constipation (i.e. less than 3 bowel movements a week).
There you have it 5 things you didn’t know about digestion. These were common misconceptions I used to have back before I healed my gut and they caused me quite a few issues so I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes!
Leaky gut is an incredibly common problem if you’re living on the Standard American Diet [SAD] and it's fairly easy to fix if you’re following the right steps [I teach these steps inside the Gut Calm Blueprint online membership. Join here!
In the meantime, take this quiz to find out if you suffer from leaky gut. The quiz results will tell you if your gut is healthy, if it needs some work or if it needs a complete reboot and what to do about it. Check it out here!
Hey! My names Ashleen.