Do you ever take supplements and feel like you're wasting your money? You read all these great benefits about supplements, but you never seem to experience them in your own life. If so, there could be one specific reason.
You may have heard that "you are what you eat." But this is only one-third of the equation. My good friend and colleague Dr. Nan Fuchs always said "You are not what you eat. You are what you eat, digest, and absorb." That's because if you're not digesting and absorbing all those good foods you're eating, you're not getting the nutrition your body needs to function properly. And if you're not digesting and absorbing the supplements you take, you are wasting your money. That's why good health begins with a healthy, functioning digestive system.
Unfortunately, our digestive system changes as we age. These changes begin in your 40s and really become noticeable in your 50s and 60s. What most people don't realize is that the changes in your digestive tract during those years are at least partially, if not largely responsible for the changes you experience in the rest of your body. This includes your brain, your heart, your bones, and even your skin. The fewer nutrients your organs receive, the faster they begin to fail. So keeping your digestive tract in good working order is absolutely vital for good health as you age.
So how can you keep your digestive tract working properly? Well, you've probably heard that probiotics, enzymes, and eating plenty of fiber are important. And they are. But there's more to a healthy digestive tract. In fact, I showed you last week how inflammation in the gut can cause poor absorption. One study from 2010 found that even minimal amounts of inflammation in the small intestine – regardless of the cause – can cause poor digestion and absorption.
The problem is there are many possible causes of inflammation in the gut. It can come from an acidic pH, an injury to the gut, allergens, medications, a poor diet (malnutrition), and toxins — just to name a few. Before you can fix your digestion, you have to find out what's causing the inflammation.
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Fortunately, in addition to taking probiotics, enzymes, and eating fiber, there are some simple things you can do to reduce inflammation and kick start your digestion.
It starts with drinking plenty of water. Dehydration is a major cause of inflammation and poor digestion. And a lack of water allows allergens and toxins to have more time in the gut where they cause damage. Keep your food moving and it won't cause as much injury to your gut.
Second, chew your food well. Digestion actually starts in your mouth. So give the saliva in your mouth plenty of time to work on your food before you swallow. Chewing also prevents partially digested food particles from fermenting in your intestines and causing gas, diarrhea, and heartburn.
Finally, make sure you have enough stomach acid. If you feel bloated or suffer from heartburn, it could be due to low stomach acid. When you experience these conditions, try taking a teaspoon of lemon juice. If the problem doesn't go away, you're making plenty of stomach acid. But if it does go away, it's likely you have low stomach acid. Taking an HCl supplement (available online), can help eliminate the problem and restore your digestion. Low stomach acid is also a symptom of hypothyroidism. So taking Thyrovanz may clear up your problem as well.
If you suffer from any health condition — or don't experience all the benefits from the supplements you take — one of the first things you need to do is address your digestion. If you're not digesting and absorbing the nutrients you're taking, you're wasting your money. But once your digestion works properly, you can give your organs all the nutrition they need.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.