The digestive system is the root of health. If your digestive system is not digesting then, it’s obvious it will not digest the nutrients that are needed for the body to function. This is why you hear most natural and well-oriented practitioners say that you are only as healthy as your digestive system is. Without proper nutrients, no cell, organ, gland or system can do its job properly. It takes strong digestion to break down the essential fats, minerals, proteins and other substances critical for a healthy functioning body. When we have limited knowledge about digestion and many of us are unknowingly ruining our digestion on a daily basis it can lead to serious health consequences.
Healthy Digestive Physiology
We have in our body a “neuro-lingual transmission”. What this means is that when food touches the tongue it sends a message directly to the brain that food is coming. The brain perceives every mineral, fat, carbohydrate, protein, etc. that the tongue tastes (not just touches). In response, it sends the appropriate enzyme for what it senses through taste. In the stomach, it releases an acid enzyme called, “hydrochloric acid” (“HCL”). HCL, although it is an acid, it does not burn the stomach, nor damage healthy stomach mucosa. Its function is to kill any and all bacteria, virus, parasite, yeast, mold or fungus that is ingested. It is also responsible for digesting minerals. Minerals in their larger form are rocks. It takes something very caustic to digest minerals, so the pH of HCL is zero to 1.0 (bringing the overall stomach pH to 1.0-1.2 – ideal stomach chemistry). This acidity is equal to battery acid. But it is GOOD. It also triggers the release of other enzymes in the stomach and further down the digestive tract.
Digestion Gone Askew
Due to the reasons described below in further detail, digestion ceases to function properly. If you are like the average American and chew only 10% of your food, the brain only transmits the processes to release enough enzymes to digest 10% of what’s coming. What happens to the other 90%? The body ferments (or rots) it instead. When food ferments, it releases organic acids which burn and damage the delicate stomach lining. This causes heartburn. It also releases gases which bubble up causing “gas” (either belching or flatulence) and bloating. If it persists long enough it weakens the valve between the stomach and esophagus and eventually you get “GERD” (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) or commonly referred to as “reflux”. Heartburn and reflux are the results of a DEFICIENCY of the proper acids in the stomach – a deficiency of hydrochloric acid. It is not a generalized acid excess – it is the result of too few of the good acids resulting in too many of the bad acids.
Drugs such as Tums™, Rolaids™, PeptoBismol™, etc. work by absorbing the bad fermentation acids along with the good, already-in-short-supply acid enzymes. Drugs such as Prevacid™, Zantac™, Prilosec™, Protonix™, Acifex™, Nexium™, etc. actually stop the body from secreting these precious enzymes, perpetuating the malfunctioning digestive system even further.
Why Digestion Goes Askew
When digestion goes askew, we must first ask “WHY?” There are several reasons why. Stress is one of the first. Stress is interpreted by the body as a “Fight or Flight Instinct”. In a fight or flight instinct, anything not responsible for either fighting or running gets shut down. Digestion is one of those functions that get shut down. That’s okay once in awhile, however, if it continues day in and day out, the digestive system stops working effectively. Secondly, we tend to eat too fast. In the beginning, we discussed the neuro-lingual communication and how eating chunks of food inhibits the release of enough enzymes to digest all that is consumed. This ferments the food instead. This means minerals are broken down small enough to get into the blood stream, but not small enough to get into the cells, the tissues and the bones where it counts. This leads to disorders such as arthritis, cataracts, osteoporosis, gallbladder or kidney stones, bone spurs and many other mineral-related diseases. It also affects brain chemistry because brain chemistry is mineral-dependent. This leads to depression and a decreased ability to cope with stress. Third, we are eating too many overly processed “dead” foods. Raw fruits and vegetables contain live enzymes that assist in digestion. If we don’t consume those in each meal, the stomach has to work extra hard to digest. Foods that are boxed, canned and otherwise packaged are considered “dead foods”. The easiest way to know what is dead and which are life-giving is the shelf life. The faster they spoil the better they are for you.
We also drink cold liquids or eat too many cold foods which weaken digestion. This affects digestion in two ways: The stomach needs to be at a certain temperature to digest. Eating cold foods means the stomach has to warm up even more to reach that temperature. Digestion is already one of the most energy-consuming functions in the body. When it has to work harder, not only is it weakened, but less energy is available for daily activities. Drinking cold liquids not only makes the stomach colder, but it also dilutes the enzymes making them even less efficient. If drinking fluids are necessary, warm herbal tea would be a better option. But the bottom line reason why people drink with meals is to wash the chunks down! So slow down, chew your food to a liquid and you won’t need more liquids with your meal. Many people also over-eat which over-stretches the stomach. The stomach also works by mechanical action. The stomach muscles squeeze and twist to break down food mechanically so that the enzymes mix with the food better. Over-eating over-stretches the stomach, and like an overstretched rubber band, it becomes less effective.
You need the raw materials to heal every tissue, organ and system in the body. As a result, your digestion must work properly, AND you have to ensure you include the raw materials – the proper fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, water, and vitamins your body needs to heal with!

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