how do we know if we’re not digesting food optimally?
how do we know if we have low stomach acid? or too much stomach acid?
if we have a lazy gut? if we have malabsorption issues?
and if we’re experiencing any of these upper digestive issues? why? and how do we heal and overcome it?
so, our digestive juices begin before we even put anything in our mouth. as soon as we’ve put something into our bodies, hundreds of enzymatic chain reactions start happening - adjusting pH balance, releasing digestive juices, pumping blood towards out digestive organs and so many more subconscious processes, it’s honestly fascinating how we transform food into our very own cells and DNA.
our stomach is acidic, it’s full of HCL, and sits around 1-2 on the pH scale (taking you back to year 10 chemistry), and that’s exactly how we want it.
our stomach can be though of as a big giant pot, and our food is in it, getting cooked and broken apart and down into smaller molecules so its able to processed into our small intestine where our nutrients are absorbed, and then our large intestine, where waters reabsorped, vitamins and compounds are made like vitamin K and SCFA (short chain fatty acids) like butyrate from our microbiome bacteria, and the remainding fibre, dead red blood cells, bacteria and non-digested matter is expelled out, bye bye bye.
we know we’re not digesting properly if we experience acid reflux, heart burn, distended stomachs, fatigue, constipation or looser stools, infrequent stools, excessive gas, bloating.
(and this list of symptoms, also, leads into a vast, vast array of other dis-ease within our body and systems, but i feel the digestive system tends to be the key system that attributes to this, along with the nervous system, for example.) these symptoms are essentially, just a piece of the puzzle and is a way of our body yelling and waking you up to the idea that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
- we may not be digesting properly because the foods we’re consuming are shit and difficult to break down, because they’re not real foods.
- it may be because we’re stressed, and leaning more into that sympathetic nervous system thus reducing the digestive fire
- we may be drinking too much cool liquids before or during our eating
- you may be consuming too much alkaline foods, which will make our stomach’s pH more alkaline – which isn’t what we want
- we may have too much stomach acid from too much acidic foods
- we might be eating too fast and not chewing our food properly
- lacking key digestive nutrients, such as B’s and zinc
- smoking impairs digestion via relaxing our oesophageal valve.
low stomach acid is predominantly what people actually experience, vs high stomach acid.
low stomach acid manifests as
- gas post meals
- indigestion / heart burn
- acid reflux
- diarrhoea / constipation
- poor immunity
- nutrient deficiencies and the symptoms that manifest (clerly, if you’re eating a shit diet, full of processed foods, you’ll be experiencing all of these regardless, so a) FIX WHAT YOU’RE EATING).
high stomach acid manifest more as
- heart burn (same as low)
- acid reflux (same as low)
further down (lol) if you’re experiencing intestinal (small intestine and large intestine aka bowel aka colon) digesive issues, they’ll manifest as anything and everthing from IBS like symptoms, nutrient deficiency symptoms like cracked nail beds, mouth ulcers, constipation, diarrhoea, poor energy, poor immune function, fatigue, brain fog, my god it’s anything and everything, hence why eating nourishing foods and restoring your GI tract and gut is FUCKING SO CRUCIAL for being a thriving millennial. if you want to read more about healing your gut, scope our previous blog.
so what do we do?
like i've said, and will continue to say forever, remove the foods that are difficult to digest and that overwhelm your digestive system. these are ones that usually are processed, contain all macronutrients, and alter gastric motility and enzymatic activity,
fuck off your excuses, swap out little thing, step by step, start small and it will build. step outside your comfort zone and try something different, thats how you'll get different results.
also, there's a few simple food combining take aways you can apply to alleviate and help with upper digestion, as well as removing foods you're aware create upset and symptoms. so we conscious, take notes, write in your iPhone, keep track of what you're eating and how it makes you feel.
simple food combining take aways;
- eat concentrated protein and concentrated carbohydrates away from each other.
protein requires an acidic environment to be digested by enzymes, whereas carbohydrates inc. starchy veg require alkaline environments.
so eating the two together neutralizes the pH and thus deactivates enzymes on both sides, and can slow down digestion, thus causing indigestive issues.
same thing with concentrated fats and concentrated proteins, as fats are digested slower, and lessens the gastric activity, hence how fats keep you fuller for longer.
- protein heavy meals go well with non-starchy veggies
- carbs/starchy veg and veggies together
- fat and non-starchy veg and protein,
non-starchy veggies and all greens go well with anything and everything.
- fruit on its own, as it has a slower digestion due to the fructose content.
undigested food not only can cause and worsen “leaky gut” / intestinal permeability, and particles to be circulating in your blood, which can lead to auto-immune, allergies, intolerances and a chronic inflammatory state,
undigested food can also putrefy within the gut, festering not good bacteria and sees toxins getting reabsorbed into the blood stream and your body, which is definitely not optimal and can cause all kinds of dis-ease, inflammation, brain fog, neural issues, and yeah, not good.
So if you’re experiencing upper digestive issues,
chew your food.
don’t eat when youre walking or doing something.
avoid liquids with your meals.
food combine effectively.
take away dumb shit like Coke and gum, which will fuck with your digestion 100%
try adding in digestive loving herbs and spices to your meals – ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, or digestive products such as digestive enzymes or Swedish bitters, or combinations of digestive herbs (e.g Metagenics Digestex).
try drinking ginger tea before meals
work on healing your GI tract, look for slippery elm, aloe vera, pectins and gums or GI repairing combinations such as MediHerbs GIT, Bioceuticals Intestamine, Eagles CytoPro Repair.
look at taking probiotics and consuming fermented foods.
eat sitting up, and don’t go lay down post meals, put gravity on your side.
deal with your stressors, employ adaptogens to help, pop in themillennialnutritionist at Teelixir’s checkout to get 10% off your adaptogen babes
ensure you’re eating adequate nutrients so you’re able to create digestive juices and enzymes and utilise the food you’re consuming, and of course, eat awesome real foods that your body recognises and knows what to do.
one love, eliza aka TMN aka digestive goddess 5000