This won’t be my most popular post. However it might revolutionize your health while saving you money! Ten years ago I suffered a terrible loss, and the emotional stress led to total digestive collapse. I’ll save you the details, except to say I couldn’t digest anything anymore. All the food I ate went straight through me, like into a black hole. I became emaciated, thin, and exhausted for months. Then a miracle happened.
I met Will, a 6′ 6″ weight lifter who enjoyed clean food. It was a passionate friendship, I can say that much. And I loved cooking for him. Amazingly, sitting across from him at the table sharing my carefully prepared meals, slowly a change began to happen in my body. Somehow I re-re-membered how to absorb food. Love is magic. I can’t explain it. Now I’m healthy again, and continue to learn how to infuse my meals with joy. This website is one way of sharing that healing with others. Ha Ha!
But I digress…Here are 6 surprising ways to get the MOST out of your food.
- Eat slowly. Calmly. And chew your food 100 times.
This is cardinal rule #1. Surprised? When you’re stressed out or eating on the run, your absorption plummets. Under stress, the sympathetic nervous system halts digestion completely, and we forget to chew. Most people chomp a few times quickly and send it down the hatch. As a result, average food absorption is only about 40% of what we eat. When you relax during meals, and chew 100 times until it’s completely liquefied, you may increase your absorption as much as 300%. That means you could get three times the nutrition out of the same dollar budget. Ha!
Eating is a joy! Eat with people you love, never eat with strife at the table. Do NOT eat when you’re angry or upset – just have a drink of water. Relax, as you eat. Enjoy and savor each bite slowwwwly. Chewing mixes food with enzymes in the mouth, giving your digestive system a running start. Then swallow. Go ahead and be the last person to finish a meal. View it as a game to improve your health. You could end up feeling more satisfied with less food. You might spend less money on food. Or even lose a few pounds! What a concept!
Chewing is the only way to break up food chunks. After you swallow, the rest of the digestive path works only by churning and chemicals. Have you ever noticed bits of food in your poop? Well, that’s the food you didn’t chew, so your body sent it right through. Super-blending is a great way to optimize absorption and doesn’t require masticating breaking the food up with the teeth. However be sure to chew it anyway, to mix foods with amylase digestive juices in the mouth. The truth is – most of us don’t do any of these things, and as a result we flush lots of expensive food down the toilet.
- Eat Organic.
You need healthy gut bacteria to digest your food! Avoid GMO foods, because they damage the body biochemistry and destabilize the gut microbiome. GMO foods cause a lack of balance in the endocrine glands such as the pituitary, hypothalamus, and pineal. When these glands get cloudy or out of balance, your senses can’t integrate as efficiently, mental clarity is reduced, and cell growth is altered. GMO foods are lower in nutritional value than organic, and they have surprisingly high levels of toxic formaldehyde, abnormal in plants.
Industrial chemicals used on crops such as pesticides, herbicides, and Monsanto’s Glyphosate have two primary damaging effects. 1) As a potent anti-biotic that kills or damages gut bacteria. 2) A toxic endocrine-disruptor that accumulates in the liver and bone marrow, lowering organ function, reducing immune system, and altering healthy cell replication.Eating GMO-free is not enough. We need to eat 100% organic to avoid both GMO’s and toxic chemicals used on conventional crops. If you invest a little more on organic food now, you’ll enjoy better nutrition, balanced intestinal flora, and higher absorption level. You’ll also recoup that money in huge savings on health costs in the future. Yay!
- Use smart food combinations to maximize your absorption.
Certain foods digest easily together, but others create disharmony in the body. Effective food combining optimizes efficient digestion in harmony with the chemistry of the food. In a nutshell, it’s best to eat proteins and carbs separately, because they require different enzymes. Meats require acid, and carbs require an alkaline pH to digest, and if you eat them in the same meal, the digestive juices somewhat cancel each other out. Surprised? Always eat fruit alone because it digests in less than an hour. If you mix fruits with heavier foods in the stomach, the fruit may putrefy. Any undigested particles are eliminated at the end of the line. Fortunately, veggies combine well with either proteins or carbs. For example, instead of meat with potatoes, try meat with veggies. Then always wait until the stomach is empty before eating again. Food combining is an art. Read more about it here.
- Eat warm foods, lightly cooked.
Never eat cold food or drink cold beverages with meals. Remember that cold burrito you had that just sat in your stomach and took 3 hours to digest? Cold food cannot be digested. Instead your stomach often sends it down the line and much of it goes into the toilet. In fact, when you eat cold food, all digestion comes to an abrupt halt in all digestive organs until your body raises the food to the prefect digestible temperature which is – you guessed it – 98.6 degrees. This drains valuable Kidney Qi (body energy) that you could save for more important things like um, creative expression, or enjoying beauty, or making love.
Avoid raw and cold foods. Eat most foods lightly cooked. According to Chinese medicine, gentle cooking makes the food more bio-available. Raw food requires a LOT of digestive fire and far more chewing to liquefy, so a lot of it goes straight through and out with your poop. However when food is lightly cooked such as gently steaming, the fibers are softened, enzymes and vitamins are still available, and your body can absorb a higher percentage of it. Think about it.
- Drink plenty of water between meals
Don’t drink liquids with your meals. This allows your precious digestive liquids to work on your food at full strength. Drinking with meals dilutes valuable enzymes. Instead, drink all your liquids between meals up to 15 minutes before meals. This was a huge habit change for me, however now I do it automatically and my digestion is much improved.
- Eat lots of fermented foods. Yes, they’re raw, however they’re partly digested by the friendly bacteria. You’ll be building a healthy micro-biome in the intestines. This in turn will strengthen your immune system and increase the absorption percentage in your gut. Examples of fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, kombucha, miso, and of course click here for my own recipes for fermented veggies.
OK that’s all. And chew your food!