© 2013 jen

Fit-tastic Update: Digest This

The more I read about food and health, the more I’ve become obsessed with digestion.

We all know that digestion is critical to overall functioning, but despite its importance to our health, most of us know very little about digestion and don’t even think about it until there is a problem.

This is probably why I’ve been thinking about it so much. I’ve struggled with digestion over the last year or so. Sometimes my body literally shut down and totally stopped moving. That was scary. It was back before I did the elimination diet and I was adjusting to a gluten-free diet. I fell back into old food habits after I went gluten-free, which meant tons of cheese and very little veggies. My system became out of balance without the grains I’d been eating before. Even though I was gluten intolerant, there were other benefits to the wheat products I was eating, such as fiber. When I removed the gluten from my diet, I lost my major fiber source and the whole digestion operation stopped altogether. I had essentially no fiber in my diet and it all went to shit. Well, actually, it was the lack thereof that was the issue.

It took lots of fiber to get my digestion flowing again – fiber from plants which at first didn’t go down that well and made me feel nauseated. It took regular tiny doses of veggies to get my system used to eating vegetables and now I can eat tons of veggies.

Although I was known to drink green smoothies prior to doing the elimination diet,  it wasn’t until after my cleanse that I realized I NEED a lot of veggies in my diet just to keep my digestion on track. This is true of everyone – it’s just that some people can get away with digestive abuses that I can no longer “stomach”!

As you may already know, I have a real passion for researching topics that interest me and right now it’s digestion that I’m thinking about. So hold on to your hat cuz I’m about lay down some stats that will surprise you.

Facts To Digest

Did you know that 80% of the energy in your body goes to digestion? This is normal. It happens to all of us, except for people who have digestive problems. When you have digestive issues, you’re using more than 80% of your body’s energy toward digestion. The more you can do to make sure that some or most of the foods you eat are easily digested, the less reserves your body has to use.

The more in sync your body is with good digestion, the more it helps with weight control. If there is one single thing that has really changed – it’s the reason I’ve lost all of this weight – it’s that my body can take the nutrients from the foods I’m eating, break them down, and then digest them through my body in a way that I wasn’t able to do before. I had to remove some foods to get myself to the proper digestion point.

My digestion was highly inefficient in the past. Slow. Sluggish. Tired. I wasn’t fueling it with the right foods.

The word fuel doesn’t even really do justice to what our food does for us. When we eat foods that work with our systems we are building our bodies on a strong foundation – on a cellular level. When we eat foods that don’t work well with our bodies, maybe eating lots of junk foods or having a high sugar diet, or maybe eating too much dairy for our body type, that food that is making you sick becomes your body, it’s the building blocks for new cells in your body. The food we eat becomes us. You can build your body on health or sickness, and the foods you eat dictates what your body is made up of. If you eat awesome nutrient-rich foods, you will have an awesome healthy body. If the foods you eat are overly processed or you’re sensitive to certain foods in your diet, but eat them anyway, you’re not getting the same nutrients, you aren’t giving your body a fighting chance. Your whole body, health and mind are potentially compromised.

Some people eat tons of grains and if they aren’t sensitive to them then it’s all good, right? Maybe. You can eat all the grains you want to, but here’s the thing. Grains are more work for your body to break down. This is true of beans and dairy too. For some people, these foods are extra hard on their bodies in the digestion process; for others it’s just a little more work. The more work a food is for your body, the more energy is used and the more taxed the body becomes over time.

This is not to say never eat grains, dairy or beans. I eat all of these foods, but not every meal and honestly for me, not even every day. I can tell my body has to work harder and I don’t feel quite as well when I eat foods that are harder to digest. I’m healthy now, but my digestion is still really coming back and I wonder if it will ever be totally healthy after 40 years of digestive abuses, so I try and take it easy on the hard to digest foods and when I don’t, I pay for it, by feeling crap-tastic.

Green Smoothies To The Rescue!

One reason I love to drink smoothies is that it’s a type of food that is referred to as pre-digested.  I know it sounds gross, but what it means is it’s already broken down and the body doesn’t have to work for it. Your body can begin breaking down smoothies within minutes of consumption. It’s one of the fastest ways to get nutrients to your body because your body can break it down almost right away, but that’s not all.

Green smoothies can make the whites of your eyes whiter, your skin will glow and your hair will be healthier too. I know my hair is way healthier and I have more natural curl than I’ve had in years. I thought it was just my overall diet changes, but after all my reading I’m pretty sure it’s the smoothies.

Good Digestion Keeps Everything Awesome

This leads me back to the larger topic of digestion, health, appearance and happiness. The more we can do to eat closer to our digestive tolerances (increasing veggies, smoothies, not eating foods that you’re sensitive to, limiting grains and beans, not devouring the entire cheese plate, etc) the longer a person can live, the healthier they will be, the happier they can feel, the less wrinkles they will have and the younger they will look. Here’s more information about digestion and signs that you can look for to tell if your digestion is on track or off.

So here we are, in a society that slathers face creams on wrinkles. We go on diets to try to lose weight, and we add fiber supplements to our diets in an effort to get enough fiber (and have good bowel movements). But all of this could be managed by proper digestion, which requires the right foods.

If you choose to eat crappy foods because they taste good, that’s totally fine, but understand the price of admission here. You will age faster. Your body will be less healthy. It will affect your digestion and most importantly, you won’t feel as good.

For some people saying good food will keep you healthy is not enough, so how about this . .

proper digestion is the closest thing that we have to a fountain of youth. Maybe that will get you thinking about good food.

I think another thing that has caused my utter fascination with digestion: my digestion was terrible for most of my life, and now I’m a digestive machine!

I can digest the crap out of my food (pun intended).

I know this is way too TMI, but I ate a beet salad with a friend and 6 hours later I had a reddish-purple bowel movement – like a champ. I asked my friend who has always been thin with no digestive issues how long it took her. Her body broke down the beets in 12 hours. I’m digesting food faster than my digestive superpower friends! What the heck!

I love having kickass digestion!

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Update:

digestion

There aren’t many ways that I can show you how healthy I feel, but I think my skin is a good reflection. I took some way too close up shot of my face so you can see the health. I’m not wearing foundation or powder in these shots, just plain old – 42 year old (to be exact) – healthy skin. I am wearing mascara and a tiny bit of nude colored lipstick in the shots.

Feeling great! Feeling like I’m finally getting really, really better. I have new muscles popping up everywhere. I’m exercising like crazy and loving it. I’ve never felt healthier in my life. Eating like a horse. Today I weigh 197 lbs.

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Finding Peace & Energy Through Digestion

You know what else I love? Boundless and endless energy. I have so much energy these days that when I wake up some days I go straight for a run, because I don’t know how to deal with all of this childlike energy and enthusiasm that I wake up with.

In my former life, the second I would step out of bed and put weight on my feet, that was the moment I’d feel my feet hurting, then my knees, then my hips.  This was because my body hated all the weight I’d put on, because my digestion was so bad, because I was eating foods that were really weren’t working for me.

There are moments now where all of a sudden I go, “Wait, what’s wrong?” And then I realize that my body is totally at peace. I’m not digesting anything, my body isn’t grumbling and complaining to me about the meal I ate last night, I’m not feeling bloated, I’m not feeling anything. I’m able to just be quiet and rest internally in a totally new way. This is one of the reasons why I have so much energy: my body gets to rest from not having to constantly digest and make up for the poor choices I was making on the outside.

So, if you’re feeling tired, if you’re struggling with weight issues, if you feel like your stomach isn’t that happy with some of your meal choices, give it a rest.

Try to eat closer to your body’s digestive tolerances and see how your body will thank you. Add a few green smoothies to the mix. Look at your hair, skin and eyes. Can you see a difference?

Seriously, eating well is as good as the best spa treatment you could get, better feeling than any massage, more pain relieving than any acupuncture session, more energy boosting than any cup of coffee or nap, more restful and relaxing than any vacation you could take, and more beautifying than any cream you can slather on your skin.

There’s really nothing you can buy for your health, happiness, complexion, or energy levels that will give you what the right food has to offer and that right food is different for all of us. So pay attention and see what your body has to say about the foods you eat.

If your health matters to you, if feeling good is a priority for you, if staying younger longer matters, then keep your digestion as simple as possible. Give your body what it needs. Pay attention to those foods that make your body not feel that great and avoid them when you can. Overeating is really just another way of making your body work harder and is that what you want? Do you want your body having to work harder? It’s totally your choice and I don’t judge any choices in the least, it’s more that I think most people don’t understand what they are doing to themselves. How much harder they are making their bodies work when they eat bad foods or too much food. I mean, I’m human, I eat too much too sometimes, but the more I learn the more I’m trying to be careful, because the cost is too high to me.

Try eating more of the foods that feel awesome to you and eat them to the point that you feel good, not too full. Try some new foods. See how they make you feel – I’ve been doing this and loving all the new foods I’m eating and drinking!

And so without further ado, here’s my favorite green drink/smoothie recipe at the moment. It’s an alkaline drink. Most of the foods we eat in our diets are acidic, unless we are eating tons of veggies, which most of us would struggle to eat the amount of veggies in most green smoothies. We want to be working in the direction of creating an environment where we are less acidic, because it prevents disease and sickness and leads to over all wellness. Most of us need more foods in our diet to makes us more alkaline and less acidic to find a better PH balance. This drink tastes good, can be made in 3 minutes and is great for you!

Here’s what I’m calling the Earthy Lemonade, because it tastes like lemonade, but slightly earthier.

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The Earthy Lemonade
A totally alkaline drink or smoothie
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Prep Time
3 min
Prep Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 big handfuls of spinach or romaine lettuce
  2. 1 whole pear (stem and center removed, leave skin on)
  3. Squeeze one whole lemon (just the juice) into your blender or Vitamix
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 4 cubes of ice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add spinach and pear to blender or Vitamix. If you use a blender it's best to cut up the pear. If you have a Vitamix you can add the halved pear as is without cutting it up. Use a handheld juicer to juice the lemon and add it to the smoothie and blend. If you want your drink to be more icy and smoothie-like, add ice.
Notes
  1. I prefer my earthy lemonade without the ice. I feel like it's more drinkable that way, but you make it as you like it.
Jen Neitzel http://www.jenneitzel.com/wordpress/
OK, that’s all for this week. So chew on that and let me know your thoughts! Have a great weekend!

 

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