By Carlyn Montes De Oca
How Does Your Body Speak?
Most people would probably say it’s with sound and words through your mouth. But the truth is that isn’t the only way our bodies speak to us.
Take for example your digestive tract. It speaks in whispers at first – a twinge, minor discomfort, occasional bloating, but then like a scorned lover, if you don’t listen, or ignore her, or silence her with medication, she starts to speak louder – heartburn, chronic constipation or diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s Disease, these are the myriad of ways that our body tries to get our attention.
About 90 million people in the United States are affected by digestive problems. Digestive disorders account for more than 104 million physician office visits per year.
Although everyone is different, often what I find when treating patients in my Acupuncture and Nutritional Counseling practice in Marin County, is that many of us are not taught to eat well. Or if we are, the basics fall by the wayside due to our busy and chaotic lives.
A good rule of thumb is always to start at the beginning, so here are 5 tips for digestive health whether your digestion is perfect or it is already beginning to speak.
5 Tips for healthy digestion
Take your time and enjoy – Turn off the television, shut off the cell phone and close your lap-top, engage in pleasant conversation or better yet, don’t talk at all. When you eat in a relaxed way you send a message to your body that everything is ok. When you eat hurriedly you send a message to your body that there is danger lurking behind those lettuce leaves. Soon you’ll feel the tightness, the discomfort and pain as your digestive tract responds to the message of danger that you are sending. It takes a lot of energy to digest your food, and most of us don’t have excess energy to burn so don’t detour your energy to the t.v or anything else when you eat, just eat and enjoy your food.
Put down the water glass: Don’t drink water or beverages with your food. Otherwise you’ll be washing away the necessary digestive enzymes that break down food to be absorbed into your body. Heartburn, bloating, pain, diarrhea, these can all be symptoms of a lack of enzymes. On the other hand, it is absolutely vital to stay hydrated for your digestion to work optimally. A good rule of thumb – drink water 15 minutes before a meal and 30 minuts after.
Fill your plate with color: I can’t stress the importance of eating at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for proper digestion, to avoid disease and so you fill your body with the daily vital nutrients for energy and vitality. The human digestive tract is about 27’ long. Fruits and vegetables generally move very quickly through the digestive tract, meat takes much longer. As meat sits in the intestine it becomes more susceptible to harmful bacteria and parasites and this makes you more vulnerable not only to poor digestion but to other more serious illness as well. To prevent disease and keep that digestion healthy, do what your grandma said and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Start Walking: Your large intestine is like a sewage plant. It recycles the stuff your body can use and stores the waste for disposal. The longer waste sits in your colon, the longer toxins have to leach out of the stool and back into your system. Exercise stimulates peristalsis, which gets the waste moving out of the colon. Research indicates that exercising can decrease colon cancer risk by up to 40%.
What else are you not digesting? – In Traditional Chinese Medicine System, digestive complaints often have an underlying emotional component that is important to look at. If you are having trouble with digestion, you may want to ask yourself the question, “besides food, what is it that I’m having trouble digesting? Is it an idea, a situation, a relationship? What am I having trouble swallowing? Where don’t I feel nourished in life? Getting to the deeper meaning of any physical problem is often the insight we need to help us move through it.
Your body speaks in different and interesting ways, it’s up to each of us to interpret them. But when it comes to our digestive tract whether it’s the body whispering with minor discomfort, or the body shouting louder w/pain or more serious symptoms, consider beginning at the beginning.
To Your Optimal Health & Wellness,