Digestion: You Are What You Absorb

We’ve all heard the old maxim “You are what you eat”.

But from a naturopathic point of view, you are also what you digest, absorb and eliminate. Ensuring each of these functions is operating as well as possible is fundamental to your good health. 

The Value Of Clinical Nutrition

An assessment of your nutritional status involves a highly detailed medical history and a physical examination. Dietary assessment will focus on the adequacy of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), special needs (for metabolic and disease-related requirements) and food reactivity. This last area of investigation includes food allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances.

Food Reactivity

Optimizing digestion and absorption may require dietary and lifestyle changes. Food reactivity has a big impact on health. Food reactivity can adversely effect absorption by damaging the lining of the digestive tract. When you eat things you react to, the foods are not properly digested and assimilated. The undigested matter essentially rots while it continues its transit through the digestive tract. High carbohydrate foods will ferment, high protein foods will putrefy and high fat foods will become rancid. Each of these will release substances that act like poisons. With this understanding, you can appreciate why nutrition and healthy digestion are so important to your overall well-being.

Here is a short list of the many symptoms and conditions that may be caused by food reactivity:

  • acne
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • abdominal pain
  • distension
  • bloating
  • cramping
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • headaches, migraines
  • heart palpitations
  • asthma
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • mental confusion
  • depression
  • irritability

Ensuring that elimination is happening as it should may also necessitate a few changes in your life. Increased water consumption and other detoxifying measures may be recommended.

General Dietary Guidelines

  • Eat dinner no less than 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Eating slowly, chewing well, when you are calm and relaxed, as this greatly increases the absorption of nutrients from your food and keeps you healthy.
  • Eat certified organic fruits, vegetables and meats if possible.
  • If you can’t eat organic produce, ensure fruits and vegetables are cleaned thoroughly before eating.
  • Eat a wide variety of fresh whole (not processed) foods.
  • Aim for high quality proteins at every meal. This is essential for good health. This means tofu, tempeh, beans, peas, fish, organic chicken and meat. No “mystery meats” like luncheon slices, Spam, hot dogs, fake meats, and tofu dogs. Fresh is best, but canned fish is okay (salmon is better than tuna).

Cooking methods:

  • Best: sauté in olive oil at low temperature, steaming, baking, stir-fry quickly at high temperature.
  • Worst: high-fat deep frying (clogs arteries), boiling (decreases vitamins), barbecuing (creates cancer-causing agents), microwaving.

Learn more about nutrition and healthy ways to prepare food at www.whfoods.com