Many people do not realize that digestion starts at the brain, mouth and then upper GI. If we develop problems in this area of digestion, nothing will be correct beyond that point of digestion. With that said, we are going to take a deep dive into digestion over the next few weeks to help you get a better understanding of what is happening and what we can do about it.
This starts with the thought about food and a tasty meal. This happens in a plan to make something delicious. Then it happens by getting the ingredients out – seeing the foods and colors, smelling each item as you are preparing it, and then the cooking smells. Think about it like this – when something is cooking on the stove what are the smells you really love together? This act right here of preparation and cooking activates the brain to signal the stomach to start getting the acid ready to begin the digestive process.
If you don’t prepare your own food, and you are using prepackaged and processed meals this NEVER happens. They are NOT colorful, most of those meals look like pucks from hockey or worse. Even pre-made beef patties look TERRIBLE. No thickness no color. If there is no preparation or beauty to it your brain can’t properly prepare the signal to get the acid going. Therefore, you are starting with insufficient acid just from no signal from your brain. This impairs digestion GREATLY!
The next act is eating once you have prepared the amazing smelling and looking food! Your eyes are part of the process – as my foodie friend always says – you eat with your eyes FIRST! So remember that. Make it look nice. It should be colorful, and look appealing to you. The smells should be enticing. Some of this has to do with learning how to combine flavors and cook. You get this from experience, and trying, but you can ALWAYS grab a few cooking shows to watch to get an idea of how professionals combine flavors. That will help you in your kitchen put these meals together.
Once you start eating here is where it REALLY goes wrong for most people. There is “no time” for a meal, so it’s rushed or on the road, or not even at home at all. There is no time to chew, because of the next stop or the next game or the next thing that needs doing. Chewing many times, slowly and thoroughly is HUGE in preventing gas, bloating, upset stomach, and more! In addition, not being calm creates the same issue. There is no response to increase acid from the brain because the brain is too busy being stressed and busy with life. No time to get your nerves and body to relax.
What happens when our body doesn’t signal digestion, and/or we don’t give it the right signals?
* Poor foods eaten will not trigger proper acid. This means that food will not break down, and remain chunky. The pH levels will be off HOLDING the food in the stomach MUCH longer than it should be there. In addition these poor foods will have irritants causing damage to the lining.
* Food being held in the stomach too long causes fermentation, breakdown of the layers of protection in the stomach, and then problems with proper fat digestion and more further south due to the holding of the food for so long.
* When the food reaches the point of emptying from the stomach it will be too chunky. In addition, the body will not have the proper signals to send in bile for fat breakdown. This will cause food rubbing in the small intestine and lack of absorption of nutrients needed by the body. That means leaky gut, nutrient deficiencies and more.
Because I wanted to start out with each section of the system I am going to stop at this point because the end results will come later of not having proper UPPER GI function.
What are the symptoms then?
* Burning pain
* A lot of burping
— And more!
What can we do about this?
1. Prepare a real food meal at home and enjoy the sights, tastes, smells and even the sounds of cooking. Ditch processed foods that don’t allow for this to happen. Breath, and enjoy the process. Give yourself TIME to do this and let your brain signal your digestion to begin the right way. Think healthy fats, and oils, lots of seasoning and natural things like garlic, peppers, onions, leeks, green onions, and more!
2. Don’t rush your meals and slow yourself down when eating ON PURPOSE. This will allow your stomach acid to properly work and give your digestive system the TIME it needs to do all the work it should. This requires planning. Sometimes it might be planning ahead and we do need to rewarm, but give yourself the TIME TO EAT on those busier days when you can’t savor the whole meal time and preparation. Take three deep breaths. Close your eyes, focus on your food and tell your body it’s time to relax and enjoy a meal.
3. Keep water out of meal times unless it’s a sip to cleanse a pallet or wash down. Too much water before, during and directly following a meal will dilute stomach acid creating the same symptoms as not having had it signaled to work.
If you need help determining the function of your upper GI, reach out. I do free consults to help determine root causes of digestive problems so they can be eliminated and proper function restored.