Maximizing Digestion and Assimilation

20th June 2012

By Jordan & Kyla Miller

Contributing Writers for Wake Up World

In our previous articles, we have addressed, on several occasions, the importance of eating a proper diet coupled with a toxic free environment for achieving/building optimal health and well-being. Many people, who have come to understand the vital importance of these components, have in most cases (including myself) failed to recognize the significance of digestion and assimilation.

Both digestion and subsequently assimilation are in fact just as important, if not more important, as the type of food being eaten for building a healthy functioning body and mind. Without them, food, and thus the constituents of food, are literally ineffective in providing one’s body with the proper vitamins and minerals. You see, the food being consumed is only as good as the environment (stomach/intestines) in which the micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) are being absorbed. In other words, if someone has poor digestion, their body will be ineffective in assimilating the nutrients from the foods they are eating.

To ensure the body is receiving adequate nutrients, it’s not important how much ‘good food’ one is eating; rather, it is the quality of their intestinal micro flora which will determine how many nutrients are being effectively absorbed into the blood from their intestines.

In an effort to maximize the amount of nutrients being absorbed, we have to be certain that our digestive system is functioning optimally in order for the vital nutrients of food to be first absorbed and thus assimilated throughout our body; by not adhering to this rather fundamental dynamic, we are essentially not properly serving/fulfilling the bodies needs. In other words, we are eating the right food, but our body doesn’t have the ability or it’s not quite functioning well enough to use it. In order to address this issue, we have to essentially recalibrate the body. In doing so, we have to make certain that our internal environment is “clean”.

Most people in Western society consume “foods” that are heavily toxic and highly processed. After years of ingesting this matter, digestive processes slowly deteriorate, severely limiting the function of digestion and assimilation. As a result of this, most people who follow this regime – if you will – end up heavily clogged with fecal matter along the walls of their intestines and, as a result of this, remain perpetually ill because their bodies are harboring harmful bacteria which are not efficiently released from the bowels.

How to Improve Your Digestion

In an attempt to “clean-out” our internal environment (stomach and intestines as the main organs implicated here), we need to give our digestive system a break. Some cultures who still practice this exercise often define this custom as “fasting”. As defined by Wikipedia, “Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.” Fasting is by far the easiest way of addressing digestive issues. Depending on the individuals needs, there are several ways to fast – the most simple of which is to abstain from both food and drink (apart from water) for a period of time that best suits the individuals needs. In other words, depending on the individual’s internal environment, one may need to fast longer if there is greater build-up or damage to the body. If the concept of fasting is relatively new to the individual, then I advise that they consult someone who is trained in fasting or taking part in a fast while being medically supervised. Watch Christina’s amazing experience with water fasting in the below video

Once a fast is complete or the body is “recalibrated”, it is important to replenish the body with healthy bacteria. Fasting is somewhat like reformatting a computer – in order for it to function or be able to be used upon the reformat, an operating system needs to be installed to be able to utilize different programs or navigate between different files. The same concept applies to the digestive system after fasting. Once all fecal matter has been removed from the intestinal walls and the digestive system has been cleaned out, we need to “install” or input some healthy bacteria in order that the body can effectively break down food and assimilate its nutrients.

Essentially, in order to replenish the micro flora in our gut, we need to ingest foods with a good source of probiotics or healthy bacteria. Some of these foods include: sauerkraut, natto, miso, tempeh, and other animal based fermented foods such as kefir. Furthermore, a good probiotic supplementation can also be administered if the foods described above are either not performing well enough or the individual simply does not like the taste. In essence, these foods provide the digestive system with the necessary building blocks for culturing a healthy digestive system and thus a healthy body. Watch the below video to hear Dr. Mercola’s insight on the importance of bacteria in the intestines.


In the end, it is the environment of our gut which enables us to effectively assimilate the nutrients from food and not the food in itself. Always make sure your “operating system” is up-to-date.

Your question(s): Do you eat fermented foods? If so, what kind? Also, have you experienced improvement in your digestion? (post your comments below)

Sources:

1. Prescription for Nutrional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch

2. healthpromoting.com

About the Authors

Jordan & Kyla are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist. For more information, please visit the following sites; guidinginstincts.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest

 


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  • Jeff Wilson

    This is a good article, thanks for putting it out there. We ferment just about everything. Sauerkraut, carrots, beets, we make Kvass, water kefir and kombucha. When we ate grains we always soaked them, usually in Whey. But there is really another step here to point out. Most of “civilized” peoples gut flora as you point out…is a mess. And in reality really fixing that isn’t as simple as a fast and adding probiotics. The pathogenic bacteria that has taken over digs in, literally…and through the gut lining. This allows too large molecules of food into the bloodstream, hence the epidemic of “food allergies”. It isn’t really a matter of being allergic to certain foods, because the body will attack (and create an allergic reaction) to just about everything you eat…until the gut heals. And this can take YEARS. And beyond adding probiotics, it is necessary to kill off the pathogenic bacteria. Probiotics help, but the pathogenic bacteria is very hardy and dug in, the only total answer for a cure is to STARVE the buggers out. So the first thing to do is find out what feeds the bad guys. Grains are the main culprit here. As long as you continue eating grains, the pathogenic bacteria will thrive. I’d guess that 85% of Mankind”s “Ills” comes from a messed up gut.” Even when there are little gut symptoms, the bodies response to invaders that the pathogenic bacteria have allowed into the bloodstream, and that are a bi-products of the pathogenic bacterias metabolism… create a myriad of disorders, from heart disease to arthritis,cancers, and basically all inflammatory diseases, autism spectrum disorders etc. The GAPS diet (you can google it) is an excellent diet designed to return the gut to a healthy state. I had terrible heartburn and GERD for almost 50 years, and arthritis cured in months on this diet.

  • Erik

    I’ll second Jeff on that and recall an adage of eastern medical tradition: “fire in the gut, fire in the brain.” The gut conditions that lead to a permeable intestinal membrane and toxins entering the bloodstream also lead to a more permeable blood-brain barrier, resulting in problems mainstream society never dreams of attributing to dietary issues (or even acknowledging in many cases).