Your digestive system takes a beating every day! It has one of the hardest jobs in the body. It has to extract nutrients from what we eat and it has to fight bad bacteria to keep us healthy. If that wasn't enough, our gut health is linked to our immune health and brain health. So if we want to be healthy in our mind and body, a healthy digestive system is key.
Everyday our digestive system is damaged. Especially if we are eating the standard American diet. Did you know the typical American only eats 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day? This is way too little to keep things moving. In fact, the best way to be eating means that when you eat a meal, there are 8 to 12 grams of fiber per meal. You read that right, 8 - 12 grams of fiber per meal! Fiber is not only key to keeping things moving, it helps our body detoxify. There are only 3 ways our body detoxifies: sweating, peeing and pooping. If we aren't eating enough fiber, then we can excrete toxins properly.
Our digestive system is damaged if we don't eat something green everyday. Why? Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants. It helps keep the digestive tract healthy by increasing the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract and it is anti-microbial, which means it can help get rid of the bad bacteria. (Source: Well and Good) Great sources of chlorophyll are avocados, spinach, green beans, arugula, broccoli and parsley, to name a few. Next time you eat a meal, look at your plate. Do you have something green on it? It is a very simple task to eat something green everyday.
Eating foods that are processed hurts our digestive system. Processed foods are high in unhealthy fats, added sugars and sodium. Your digestive system has no where to hide! It must process what we eat. When we eat processed foods, the digestive system slows down. This results in constipation, diarrhea, inflammation of the digestive tract and a weakened immune system. If we don't give the gut clean fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plenty of clean water to keep things moving, toxins build up and make the gut weak. This can lead to illness and disease.
Eating foods that are grown with chemicals and pesticides hurts our digestive system. Our body wants to be healthy and it fights for us everyday. When we eat chemicals and pesticides, they interrupt our normal processes because our bodies do not know how to get rid of them. Eating organic food helps our bodies focus on the task at hand. Our digestive system does not get bogged down trying to figure out what to do with the chemicals that entered our body.
Making the change to eating organic helps our bodies get back to being healthy very quickly. There was a study done in Australia on 13 adults, some were fed organic food, others were fed conventionally grown food. The results showed that in just 6 days those eating the organic food had a reduction of 40% of pesticides in the body. (Source: Civil Eats) I recognize that being organic 100% of the time is nearly impossible. Life happens! But if you can strive for eating organic foods for at least 80% of any meal, it will help heal your digestive system.
What we drink while we are eating also affects the health of our digestive system. I'm not talking about the dangers of soda, but the quality, quantity and temperature of what we drink while we eat. When drinking any beverage with a meal, make sure it is filtered and no more than 8 ounces. If you are drinking water, it should be either bottled or filtered to rid it of chemicals and impurities. The reason a beverage should not be larger than 8 ounces is to help avoid drinking too much fluid which may interfere with the digestive process.
If you use your refrigerator as a filter, change the filter every 3 months not 6 months like the manual states. The Save Institute had a really great analogy about why drinking room temperature drinks is better for our digestive system. "When we have an injury and want to stop swelling, we put ice on it. Drinking a cold beverage has the same effect on our digestive system. A cold beverage makes the digestive system slow down. A warm beverage helps stimulate our digestive system." When thinking of a warm beverage, it could be room temperature water or a cup of warm tea.
But your digestive system is not just affected by what we eat and drink. It is affected by how we cook and how we eat. Microwaving food is a really bad idea when you want to have a healthy digestive system. As I mentioned earlier, the digestive system needs to extract nutrients from our food to help our bodies stay healthy. Microwaving has been shown to reduce nutrients in food. For example, microwaved broccoli lost 97% of its antioxidants. Not only does it reduce the nutrients in foods, microwaving can cause food to have carcinogenic effects in our bodies. (Source: Mercola) I highly recommend staying away from microwaving whenever you can.
The cookware we use can also cause issues with our digestive system. Teflon toxicity is a real thing. We don't notice it right away because it happens overtime. While we all love the non-stick convenience of Teflon, after about 5 years, it starts to breakdown on our cookware. Most of us do not replace our cookware after 5 years. The Teflon starts to leak into our food which can interfere with our gut's ability to regulate our appetite and damages the hormones needed for our brain and stomach to communicate. The damage from Teflon leads to obesity. (Source: EWG)
Everyday we choose how we are going to serve our digestive system. Will we eat enough fiber, organic ingredients where we can, drink warm beverages, not microwave and don't cook with Teflon or will we continue to eat, cook and drink like we always have done? Learning what damages our digestive tract so that we can create new routines for ourselves and our families can be challenging. It is so much easier to just do what we have always done. But with a little effort, our digestive system can work more efficiently for us.
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