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The 1st part of your digestion is the cephalic phase.
It actually begins before you even take your first bite of food. There are intricate neurological and hormonal communications occurring between your brain and your digestive system. These signals are triggered by the smell of foods, in anticipation of eating.
The sensation of hunger prepares your digestive system.
Eating when you are hungry, relaxed and are able to enjoy your food allows your hormonal communications and digestive processes the optimal environment.
Anxiety, tension, frustration, unresolved anger, or even over excitement at the time of a meal can inhibit neurohormonal reflexes and interfere with your digestion. These emotions also trigger release of adrenaline, which decreases all digestive functions by shunting blood circulation away from your gastrointestinal tract.
If you feel you have digestive disorders due to stress, try a pre-meal relaxation exercise of deep breathing or be thankful for your food to generate gratitude.
Plan your meal to be moderate in size.
Chewing is the next process in your digestive process. If you don’t chew your food properly, the outer surfaces of large food pieces will be put through your digestive secretions. This might make you feel satiated, but the food in your belly does not necessarily mean that nutrients are reaching your cells. To make matters worse, the undigested remnants getting to your colon will trigger a state of toxicity.
Chewing thoroughly is a major factor in good digestion and assimilation. Ideally, you should eat slowly and take small bites, making sure to chew food thoroughly before swallowing. It should be almost liquid before you swallow.
Blender smoothies also make foods more easily digestible 🙂
Chewing further helps your digestive process by stimulating, through the sense of taste, the hormonal signals that prepare your stomach, gallbladder, and pancreas for their jobs by boosting your salivary gland’s secretion of ptyalin, a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme.
Ptyalin causes long chains of starch molecules to begin to break down right in your mouth. This may be an important step for carb digestion if your pancreatic enzymes are compromised. The action of ptyalin might not be a substitute for pancreatic amylase, the body’s primary starch-digesting enzyme, but it certainly can help.
Finally, by chewing your food thoroughly, some nutrients pass through your mucus membranes in your mouth and enter your bloodstream directly. This absorption occurs through the rich venous network under your tongue.
Only a small fraction of your food nutrients enter your bloodstream this way, but every little bit helps. If you make your own fresh vegetable juices, swish in your mouth before swallowing to allow some immediate absorption.
You should not drink too much with meals. Thirty to forty-five minutes or more before—or at least two to three hours after—main meals is best.
With meals, a cup of herbal tea or a small glass of water sipped is fine. Neither very hot or ice-cold drinks with your meals. These can slow down or arrest your digestive secretions and actions.
A reasonable amount of wine with dinner on occasion may be fine if you are in good health. Some reports even attest to the digestion-aiding capacities of wine, in moderation.
Overeating is another common cause of poor digestion.
Eating more at one meal than your digestive system can handle, and doing it routinely, will overburden the acid-, enzyme-, and bile-secreting capabilities of your digestive system and the eliminative function of your colon.
Continual snacking between meals and late-night meals may also cause your system to burnout. Your energy level is lowest at night and sleep is for recharging, not digesting a meal.
Your gastrointestinal tract needs an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation. Eating appropriate amounts at mealtimes and minimizing snacks will enable your digestive system to function at its best.
Yet some individuals find that full meals make their digestive systems work too hard. Grazing—having five or six small, frequent meals throughout the day—is often an effective solution. As long as you stop eating at least 3 hours before bed as a general rule.
Avoid excessive physical exertion immediately before or after a main meal. Your digestive system needs a lot of energy around food time, especially a main meal. Excessive muscular activity will shift your body’s focus and circulation away from your digestive system toward your muscles, leaving the digestive system on hold and unable to do its job well. A short walk, however, soon after eating can actually enhance your digestion.
Food combining and eating for your blood type will also help you feel your best!