Better digestion in 5 simple steps

Digestion is the process of breaking down food into basic units (i.e. vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats and proteins) to be used by the body. Good digestion is a pillar of good health. Poor digestion can cause a wide array of health issues including abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation, reflux, fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, and cravings.

Here are some easy steps you can take to improve your digestion:

  1. Eat in a relaxing environment. Stress hormones such as cortisol stunt digestion by increasing sympathetic nervous system activity. If the body feels threatened, it uses energy to run and hide rather than rest and digest.
  2. Chew food thoroughly. Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing not only physical breaks down food, it also activates important digestive enzymes. Most of us only chew 3-4 times before swallowing and we need to do better than that! Chew food till it is liquid before taking another bite.
  3. Eat, don’t drink, at mealtimes. Water or other beverages dilute hydrochloric acid in the stomach, weakening your ability to digest food. Drink water 15-20 minutes before and after meals to stay hydrated and ensure full-strength hydrochloric acid.
  4. Avoid carbonated beverages. Carbonation damages the parietal cells, which make hydrochloric acid.
  5. Consider taking digestive enzymes. If you have poor digestion, high quality digestive enzymes can help you absorb more nutrients from your food and repair damage to your digestive tract. New Leaf, Way of Life, and The Herb Room carry quality digestive enzymes.

If you have difficulty integrating all five of these steps, pick one to start with and add in the others over time. Before you know it, you’ll be digesting food more thoroughly and getting more nutrition out of your meals.

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BPA-free plastic has estrogenic activity

Time to clear the plastic out of your home. Even BPA-free plastics, which we thought were safe, have now been found to have hormone-mimicking properties.

BPA, a component of most plastics, was removed from many bottles, toys, and cans when The Department of Health and Human Services started to question its safety. Thought we’d won the battle? Think again.

Some of the chemicals still used in some plastic have even higher estrogen-like activity than BPA. CertiChem testing company founder George Bittner found that more than 70 percent of the products tested released chemicals that acted like estrogen. When products were heated or used in the dishwasher, the number jumped to ninety-five percent! Some however, had none showing it is possible to make plastic products without many of these chemicals that can harm our health. Unfortunately, the testing didn’t show which chemicals were to blame so further testing is needed.

Potential health risks associated with plastic

Ways to reduce health risks of plastic

  1. Do not heat or re-heat food or drinks in plastic containers.
  2. Choose glass or stainless steel drinking bottles.
  3. Choose glass baby bottles and limit plastic toys for children.
  4. Store food in glass containers.
  5. Use a Planet Box lunch pail instead of plastic bags when possible.

Until the day comes when non-toxic plastic is the norm, try to reduce cumulative exposure wherever and whenever you can. In Santa Cruz, local stores like GreenSpaceEcoGoods, and all local health food stores are but a few of the businesses providing healthier options to use at home.

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