CAN ESSENTIAL OILS HELP WITH BALANCING HORMONES?

CAN ESSENTIAL OILS HELP WITH BALANCING HORMONES?

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

They are the most powerful part of a plant.  They are the life blood of the plant.  Just like your blood clots through cuts and oxygenates your cells and detoxes the body, oils do the same thing for the plant.  They are distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, rinds, resins, herbs, fruit.  Oils consist of over a 100 natural organic compounds.  Plants can photo synthesise, work through trauma, energise and they can do similar things in the human body. 

In humans, oils can provide support for every system in the body, your skeletal system, muscular system, brain health, circulatory system, endocrine system and hormones.  They can help support a healthy weight and support your respiratory system and aid your immune system to support you when everyone else is sick.  Oils can support every organ in your body, your liver, kidneys, heart, colon and can be used for emotions and grounding and for spiritual support.  Oils in a diffuser can help calm you down, especially if you have had a stressful day at work. 

Oils can be used as an alternative to toxic chemicals in your home.  Thieves can be used to start to swap out the chemical cleaners in your home. 

There are about 300 oils on the earth but you only need about 10 to 20 to get started and you don’t need to be an aromatherapist to know how to use them.  In most cases you are using them topically on the skin.

Choosing the right essential oil is very important though.  There are so many essential oils available.  Most of the essential oils I have come across have been diluted down, they are not therapeutic grade and may have been distilled more than once so you are not getting 100% of the plant.  It’s like re using a tea bag a second time, you won’t get all the flavour.  It’s the same for essential oils.  A lot of the essential oils do not comply with certain standards either. 

What do I mean when I say “therapeutic grade”.  This means that they are 100% pure and have been made seed to seal.  Young Living essential oils are 100% pure and safe to ingest.   

Therapeutic grade essential oils such as Young Living are completely safe and effective. 

They are distilled from inside the plants and they are 100% pure, no fillers and no dilution.  They are made by a process of seed to seal and follow strict guidelines.  They will only use seed to seal suppliers and these suppliers are regularly checked to make sure they are following their strict guidelines of seed to seal every time to make sure they are 100% therapeutic grade.

Watch my video for a quick overview of how to use essential oils, how they are absorbed in the body, how they can be beneficial as a supplement and how essential oils can assist with balancing hormone levels.

For a more indepth look at what essential oils are and how they can be used to help with hormone imbalance, skin health, balancing mood, balancing weight, helping with sleep issues and lots more, you can purchase my ebook on the ebook section of my website.

SWAP SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE UNHEALTHY FOODS FOR HEALTHY ONES

SWAP SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE UNHEALTHY FOODS FOR HEALTHY ONES

Everyone has a favourite food, what is yours?

A lot of your favourite foods may not be a healthy food such as pizza, ice creams, creamy sauces, chips and ketchup maybe. 

Foods are connected to celebrating and can have an emotional trigger.  

When you are feeling down, you may want to eat a tub of ice cream.  Do you feel guilty afterwards?

You can change any recipe into a healthy one. 

Here are some ideas for you to make healthier recipes to the unhealthy ones.

PASTA

If you love pasta there are lots of ways you can still eat this by making healthier versions of it.

You could buy buckwheat noodles called soba noodles, chickpea pasta, lentil pasta.  There are lots of different plant based ones you could use. 

These are processed so if you want to go more natural you could spiralise some courgettes, carrots, cucumbers, squash or sweet potato.  Pop them into a steamer and lightly steam until soft.  Plate up and top with your favourite sauce. 

Here is a recipe to make from the Every Last Bite website

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA WITH CASHEW ALFREDO SAUCE

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

1 Butternut Squash (approx 5 cups noodles)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup chopped bacon OR leave out for veggie version

110g/2/3 cup cashews, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes

1 clove garlic

60ml/1/4 cup almond milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

57g/1/4 cup frozen peas or 1 cup spinach

1 tbsp parsley chopped

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CASHEW ALFREDO SAUCE

Preheat to oven to 200 degrees Celsius (395 degrees Fahrenheit).  Peel the butternut squash and spiralize into noodles or use a julienne peeler to cut thin noodles.  Place the butternut squash pasta into a steamer and steam until soft.

Combine the cashews, garlic, almond milk, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.  Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp (if using).  Pour the sauce into the skillet along with the frozen peas or spinach and heat until warm.  Add in the butternut squash pasta and toss to coat in the sauce. Top with chopped parsley before serving.

TOMATO SAUCE

200g/1 cup tomatoes – roughly chopped to help blending

6 soaked sun-dried tomatoes

52g/1/4 cup of the soaking liquid

2 cloves garlic

1 fresh medjool date

1 tsp sea salt

Chopped parsley or basil for garnish

Optional – Add in any herbs and spices of your choice

INSTRUCTIONS FOR TOMATO SAUCE

Soak the pitted date and sundried tomatoes in warm water for 10 to 30 minutes to allow them to soften.  Place the dates, sundried tomatoes, soaking liquid, chopped tomatoes, sea salt, garlic and any herbs and spices of your choice, in food processor/ blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix together.  Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil.

USE GLUTEN FREE FLOUR

You can buy gluten free flour such as ground almonds or meal, coconut flour or buckwheat flour.  You could go one step further and buy some gluten free sprouted flour.  When it is sprouted, this brings out more of the nutrients.

Ground almonds can be used in all baking, bread, cakes, pizza crusts, pastry cases etc.

Buckwheat flour is excellent to use for savoury items such as pastry crusts and also pizza crusts, tortillas or pancakes.

Recipe using gluten free flour from Rachael Hartley Nutrition website

CINNAMON SPICE RAISIN COOKIES – NO SWEETENER

MAKES ABOUT 25

For a chocolate version, use regular raisins instead of golden raisins and add cocoa powder to the mix.

INGREDIENTS

400G/2 cups golden raisins

360G/3 cups almond meal

2 tablespoons almond butter or cashew butter

52G/1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

Large pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, warm 3-4 cups of water for 3 minutes. Add golden raisins and let them plump for about 5-10 minutes.  Drain the raisins and transfer to a food processor. Blend until pureed, about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and process until fully combined and blended, scraping down sides as needed.  Form the batter into balls.  The batter is very sticky so if you wet your hands, it can help from sticking to them as much. 

Place them 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking tray.  Flatten a little bit with the back of a spoon and bake at 325/160C for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden.  The bottoms have the tendency to brown, so you may want to check after about 15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes on the baking tray and transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.  They will keep in a covered container at room temperature for a few days, or store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

CHEESE SAUCE

Shop bought cheese sauces can contain lots of additives, sugars and lots of cream and lacking in nutrition. 

You can make a dairy free version that has lots of nutrition.

Here is a recipe using cashew nuts as the base for the cheese sauce.

300g Cashew nuts – soaked for at least 4 hours

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp Hemp seeds

Half red pepper

1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos

1 spring onion – chopped

1 Sundried tomatoe – use dried ones with no oil if you can and rehydrate in warm water

1 tsp dried basil

Pinch Sea salt

Blend together to make the sauce.  You could add in some carrot or courgette instead of the red pepper. 

MAKE YOUR OWN FRENCH FRIES/CHIPS

French fries smothered in tomato ketchup are a great comfort food.

You can make your own by baking them instead and using sweet potato instead of white potato. 

This way you can add in some herbs and spices too.  You can cut them into thin strips and mix with any herbs and spices you want with a bit of olive oil. 

For an oil free version, steam the sweet potato for a few minutes then toss with some spices and herbs.  I love paprika, turmeric and cinnamon with basil and oregano herbs.

Put them onto a parchment lined baking tray and roast in hot oven to crisp up and brown. 

3 large sweet potatoes, sliced into thin strips

1 tbsp Melted coconut oil or mix with a drizzle of olive oil

Herbs and Spices of your choice – sea salt, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, basil, oregano, or thyme

Mix all ingredients together so herbs and spices are well coated.  Bake at about 200C for 25 – 30 minutes or until brown and crispy.

TOMATO KETCHUP SAUCE

200g organic tomato paste

1 tbsp raw organic honey

1 tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp sea salt

60ml water

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with the fries!

MAKE YOUR OWN ICE CREAM

You can make ice cream with frozen bananas. 

Blend bananas with flavour of your choice such as raspberries, strawberries, cacao powder, dates, anything you like.

You could also soak a cup of cashew nuts overnight in a cup of water.  Drain the cashew nuts and put into blender with a fresh cup of water and blend until creamy. 

Add some flavouring such as maple syrup and vanilla essence/extract.  Blend again, then put into the fridge for around 2 hours to thicken and chill.

MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSINGS

The dressings you can buy in the supermarket are not very good and full of bad fats, sugars and additives.

You can make your own very simply and there are lots of different ways to make dressings taste great.

Here are a few examples.

CHICKPEA DRESSING

Combine a teaspoon of minced garlic with 90g/3/4 cup garbanzo/chickpea flour. 

Add 2 tablespoons of Tahini which is sesame seed butter and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. 

Finish it with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.

TAHINI DRESSING

3 1/2 tbsp raw tahini (or any tahini you prefer)

2 tbsp mustard

4 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari sauce

The juice of 1 large lemon

1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper – if you want spicy!

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt (or Dulse flakes to replace salt)

4 tbsp water instead

Place all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix it well.

TOMATO DRESSING

3 large tomatoes

1 cup chopped celery

75g/½ cup raw sesame seeds

Chunk ginger – peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together.

MAKE YOUR OWN DIPS

Most of the dips you buy contain sugars, bad fats, additives and flavourings.

You can make your own that are easy.

These swaps are full of flavour and taste just as good. 

TOMATO SALSA

INGREDIENTS

3 Tomatoes

1/2 red pepper

3 soft dates finely chopped

3-4 sun dried tomatoes (optional)

1/4 tsp garlic powder or fresh

2 Tbsp spring onion

1 Tbsp chopped ginger

Juice of 1/2 lime

Splash olive oil

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of chilli – optional

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Pulse all ingredients in a processor or blender keeping some texture.

PEA AND WALNUT PESTO

Recipe from the One Green Planet website 

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

1 bag frozen peas

2 tablespoons fresh basil

3 tablespoons raw walnuts

1 garlic clove

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine peas with water and bring to a boil.  Strain the peas and add to food processor along with other ingredients and puree until all ingredients are combined.  Serve right away or store in refrigerator in airtight container for up to a week.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHICKPEA SPREAD

By Christine Bailey website 

INGREDIENTS

200g / 7oz butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into large wedges

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled, left whole

1tbsp honey, optional

2tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

1 x 400g / 14oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1tbsp tahini

Juice of ½ lemon

½ tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of ground nutmeg or cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.  Place the pumpkin and garlic in a shallow roasting tin. Toss with the honey and 1tbsp olive oil and season with black pepper and salt.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool.  Peel the garlic cloves and place with the pumpkin in a food processor.  Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth.

ROASTED GARLIC AND FRESH HERB CREAM

By One Green Planet website

INGREDIENTS

1 small head garlic

4 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, chives, and/or oregano

300g/1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked in water 8-10 hours, rinsed and drained

57g/1/4 cup coconut butter or 20g/1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, soaked in water for about 15 minutes, drained

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F/225C.  Cut off the top 1/3 or so of the garlic and wrap the head in foil.  Place the garlic in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until fragrant and very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before unwrapping.  Line a container with cheesecloth.  Sprinkle the bottoms of the ramekins with one tablespoon each of the herbs, reserving the remaining herbs.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the cashew pieces, coconut butter or coconut flakes, and salt until fairly smooth.  It will not get completely smooth. Squeeze the cloves from the roasted garlic and drop into the bowl of the food processor.  Add the garlic powder and the lemon juice and process until thoroughly combined.  Divide the mixture between the container, pressing the cheese down into the herbs and cheesecloth.  Tap the container on the counter a few times and level the top. Sprinkle the remaining herbs on top, gently press them into the cheese and cover with the ends of the cheesecloth.  Place in the refrigerator and let set overnight.  The next day, remove and gently tug the cheesecloth to remove the cream cheese.  Serve with bread or crackers –  or place them in an air-tight container for up to one week.

WHAT FOODS ARE CAUSING INFLAMMATION AND PREMATURE AGING?

WHAT FOODS ARE CAUSING INFLAMMATION AND PREMATURE AGING?

Your skin is a big reflection of everything that is going on inside your body.

Aging can show up as chronic, low grade inflammation.

The connection between inflammation and aging is so strong that a name has been created for it – “inflammaging.”

Some foods, more than others can accelerate this process by adding fuel to the inflammation fire.

Chronic inflammation can show up in the body as aches and pains as well as an increased risk for age related diseases such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation can induce oxidative stress and can affect your skin by reducing your cells ability to defend themselves from free radical damage.  This can result in collagen breakdown, wrinkles forming and loss of elasticity in your skin resulting in saggy skin.

WHAT ARE AGE’S AND HOW DO THEY AFFECT AGING?

AGEs means – advanced glycation end products.  They are toxic compounds and they form naturally in small amounts in your body.  They corrode your body the same way rust can damage metal in a machine if it is allowed to build up.

AGEs can cause proteins to stick together and after many years, the AGE proteins can become rigid.  

This can be one reason why joints, muscles and tendons become stiff and inflexible over time.

This is why blood vessels become thick and lose elasticity, and cause hardening of the arteries, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Oxidation depletes the natural reserves of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are what can neutralize the effects of AGEs, but only up to a point.

The body will react to the AGEs as if it was an infection but the body will be limited in how it can eliminate it effectively.  This is done by creating low level inflammation as a reaction to these AGE’s.  The body deals with an infection by raising body temperature until the infection is healed and goes away.  The problem with AGE’s is when you are constantly consuming foods containing them, the inflammation will not go away.  Over time, it can slowly damage every organ in your body and speed up aging and affect your brain health.  This may not be noticed for many years. 

AGEs can be found in large quantities in most of the foods we eat today.  Food processing by food manufacturers, or cooking food using dry heat to make it digestible and tasty, also help raise AGEs to dangerous levels for the body.

AGEs are responsible for the taste, appearance and the smell of foods you enjoy such as a grilled burger or fried chicken, a pizza, soft drinks, bacon, corn tortillas or biscuits etc.

AGEs have been linked to diseases and health problems, including diabetes, heart and kidney disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, skin aging, poor wound healing etc.

These food AGEs can cause inflammation in your body.  The best way to reduce these is to cook your food by boiling, steaming, slow cooking, low to medium heat baking, and medium heat pan frying.

You cannot stop the aging process, but you can increase the longevity of your skin and body by eliminating some of these foods.

SUGAR

When you eat sugar, insulin is released to take this sugar into your cells or stored in your body.  You need sugar to fuel your body, but if you consume foods to produce high levels, this can be extremely inflammatory. 

Increased blood sugar levels can also accelerate a natural process called glycation, in which glucose attaches to proteins in the body and makes them rigid, this can affect your skin health and a reduction in collagen and elastin that help to keep your skin smooth, elastic and tight. 

The blood sugar highs and lows that you experience from sugary food or a heavy carbohydrate meal, can really affect your energy levels leaving you feeling fatigued.  Have you experienced an after 3 pm slump?

You can also be increasing your risk of developing insulin resistance when you eat too much sugar.  When this occurs, insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar and its levels become abnormally high.  This will result in an increase of body fat around your body.  It can also contribute to developing type II diabetes.

VEGETABLE OILS SUCH AS SUNFLOWER OIL OR RAPESEED OIL

These oils are unnatural and processed foods.  They also contain polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids, which can set off the inflammatory process within your body.

Omega 3 essential fats signal the chemical messengers that turn off the inflammatory process but, the average person can be consuming about 10 to 15 times more omega 6’s than omega 3’s.

If you can consume omega 3 and omega 6 in equal quantities, you have more of a chance to keep the inflammatory process under control. 

Keep checking the ingredient labels of everything you buy. 

Vegetable oils are a main ingredient in processed foods such as mayonnaise, biscuits, cakes or crackers etc.

WHEAT, BARLEY AND RYE

Gluten is a protein known as gliadin.  Gluten has been linked with causing a lot of digestion issues and digestion diseases such as crohns or colitis. 

It can cause the lining of the gut to break down, resulting in toxins or undigested foods being able to penetrate this lining and into your bloodstream.  When this happens, your body is alerted and will create an immune response and a significant cause of chronic inflammation.  

They can cause intestinal inflammation

Medical News today has stated that as well as contributing to the development of bowel-related inflammatory conditions, we believe that ATIs can promote inflammation of other immune-related chronic conditions outside of the bowel.  

I have written another article about Gluten and how it affects digestion and hormones and you can read it by going here.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol can rob your body of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is an antioxidant that is essential for cell renewal and turnover. 

The occasional glass or two of wine is probably not going to do a lot of harm to your skin health, but drinking heavily, especially sugary drinks, can cause free radical damage. 

If you want to drink alcohol, stick to reduced sugar alcohol drinks such as wine, champagne and spirits such as vodka and soda with a slice of lime or lemon in it. 

Drink alcohol in moderate amounts and include a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. 

REFINED GRAINS

These are high glycemic simple carbohydrates and can be converted to sugar in your body very quickly. 

A single serving of healthy whole grain breakfast cereal can have a glycemic index higher than table sugar!  

These can result in an insulin spike which can go on to cause inflammation in your body.

More reasons to ditch the sugary processed breakfast cereals!

FRIED FAST FOODS

Fast food restaurants will probably use unhealthy oils to cook the food in.

When you consume foods cooked in the unhealthy oil, it releases free radicals in the body.  Free radical damage can cause oxidative stress in your body and go on to affect your health and wellbeing, including heart disease and wrinkles.

TRANS FATS/HYDROGENATED FATS

Trans fats are really bad for your skin cells.  Fats that have been artificially hydrogenated are some of the most inflammatory substances there are.

Trans fats may make you more susceptible to skin damage from the harmful rays of the sun.

Hydrogenated fats can be found in a lot of packaged foods, so it is best to check all ingredients lists on the foods you buy. 

SALT

Sodium is needed for the health of your body but the quality of your salt is particularly important.  Most packaged and processed foods contain high levels of processed salt that is not good to be eaten.

This type of salt can leave you feeling lethargic, bloated and have retention of water.  Excessive amounts of salt can leave you feeling dehydrated. 

Eat foods that contain a mineral salt such as celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.  This type of salt contains healthy minerals and also taste good.

PROCESSED MEATS

Processed meats such as bacon, ham, and sausage can also accelerate aging.

These meats contain chemical additives, such as nitrates, monosodium glutamate, and other dangerous substances that can lower the immune system and create disease.

Processed meats usually contain a great amount of salt as well, which can affect your skin health.

Eat organic grass fed meats that do not contain added chemicals and preservatives.

CAFFEINATED BEVERAGES

Caffeine can have a drying effect on the skin.  How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?  This could be making you more dehydrated and causing your skin to look a bit dull, dry and washed out.  The caffeine can act like a diuretic, preventing you from holding on to water.

Try limiting your coffee intake to one or two cups a day and drink plenty of water too throughout the day.

WHAT FOODS ARE PROTECTIVE OF TOXINS AND CARCINOGENIC COMPOUNDS AND OXIDISED FATS?

WHAT IS HETEROCYCLIC AMINES?

Meat that is exposed to high temperature or cooked on a BBQ, can cause the amino acids, sugars, and creatine within it to react and form heterocyclic amines (HCA).  

There has been an animal study carried out to suggest that HCAs are mutagenic and can create a DNA mutation which can change gene expression.  HCA’s have been linked to cancers.

There are some foods that, when eaten with a meal, can protect against the harmful effects of foods cooked at high temperatures.

All fruits, vegetables and salads will be protective against HCA’s when eaten with a meal.

Coffee can bind and inhibit HCA’s as it contains polyphenols and fibre.

Red wine consumed with a meal can inhibit the carcinogen action in the digestion after consuming meat.

Marinade your meat and veggies before you cook them or BBQ, will help to reduce the formation of toxic compounds like HCA and AGE’s.

To make a marinade, use a good fat such as olive oil; and lemon or lime juice or vinegar; add some herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cumin etc.  The marinade will reduce the toxic compounds considerably.  The more herbs and spices you use will be better. 

The Natural Medicine Journal has this to say about HCA protectors.

Sugar will increase the formation of HCA, especially when combined with soy sauce.   Go for natural sugar such as raw honey or brown sugar instead.  Soy sauce or tamari sauce and sugar would be better mixed with garlic and ginger.  Teriyaki sauce does contain all these.

Beware of shop bought marinade sauces as these will contain lots of sugars that won’t work to reduce HCA’s and AGE’s.

So, to summarise this, if you are pan frying, grilling or cooking your food over a BBQ, as long as you use a healthy fat such as olive oil or coconut oil, no refined sugars, include natural sugar, lemon or lime juice or vinegar and lots of herbs and spices for a marinade, this will help to reduce the toxic compounds.  Pair this with a salad and vegetables with a glass of red wine and some coffee with dessert and this will also help to reduce the toxic compounds.  Enjoy your pan fried, grilled or BBQ cooked foods. 

How many of these foods are you eating? 

If you make a start today by cutting out or cutting down on some of these foods, this will help to limit the aging process and excel your health and wellbeing.

There is one food that can help with so many health issues, especially reducing inflammation and that is turmeric.  

Here is a great blog written by Lyfe Botanicals to explain more about how great turmeric is.

For more help with continued weight maintenance or help with any health related issues, get in touch and set up a call with me to discuss this further. 

Set up a call with me by clicking here.

CAN YOUR DIGESTION HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOUR HORMONES AND VICE VERSA?!

CAN DIGESTION HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOUR HORMONE HEALTH AND VICE VERSA?!

During perimenopause and menopause, you could be feeling like you are having more digestion problems than before. 

This is because your hormones are fluctuating and going on a rollercoaster ride, up and down. 

Your stomach acid levels can be reduced because of the rollercoaster of hormones.  It can also affect how fast the food that you eat travels through your digestive system causing some bloating or constipation. 

HOW DOES THE DIGESTION WORK?

Digestion starts in your mouth with the digestion of carbohydrates. 

Make sure that you are chewing your food really well before you swallow it, your stomach will thank you for it.

Now you have chewed your food and it has entered your stomach, what happens now?

The next part of digestion is when your stomach starts to pass the broken down food particles through to your small intestines to finish digestion and so your body can absorb the nutrients from the food.  The small intestine has 3 parts to it, the duodenum, ileum and jejunum. 

The pancreas plays a big role with digestion by secreting enzymes and the production of bile to finish digestion of protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Your body can then absorb all the nutrients from your food. 

The bacteria that live within your digestive tract are very beneficial in aiding in digestion and absorption of the food you eat too.  They are lactobacilus and Bifidobacterium. 

Food is absorbed through the lining of the small intestine through the finger like tentacles of your micro villi, with the help of your bacteria. 

The last part of the digestion process is the large intestine.  It is 1.5m long and it takes around 12 to 24 hours for elimination of waste via the rectum after you have eaten. 

The colon absorbs water and minerals from indigestible fibre. 

Bacteria in the large intestine feed on non digestible food by the human digestive tract and convert the food into poop ready for elimination. 

Are you pooping at least once a day.  Ideally it is best to go 2 or 3 times a day.  The quicker you can get waste out of your body, the less toxins will be re-absorbed back into your body. 

HOW TO CREATE A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

This may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, but more research shows that your digestive system can play a bigger role in many diseases than you might think. 

Some problems that can arise in your digestive tract are – heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, IBS, IBD etc.  These could lead to allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

Your gut is the portal to the outside world and your digestive system can take in disease causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  You also take in nutrients and toxins through your gut.  The nutrients that are ingested and absorbed are the building blocks of every single part of your body.

There is still so much to learn about the connections between your digestive tract and other areas of your body, like your brain known as the gut brain axis.  

Your digestive tract houses tons of friendly microbes too. These have lots of roles to play in your digestive system health.

WHAT ROLES DO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM MICROBES PLAY IN YOUR OVERALL HEALTH?

Your digestive tract is your barrier, it lets things in your body that you want to get in, which are nutrients, and keeps things out that should be kept out such as waste to be eliminated.

This should be simple right, but it can be really complex and this system can start to break down.

Your digestive tract lining can leak and allows things to get into your bloodstream and your body that can wreak havoc in your body.  Things such as bacteria, undigested food, and toxins.

Anything you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your digestive system and get into your bloodstream, even if it is not supposed to.  When your gut wall gets irritated, this is when it can leak.  When this happens, you get inflammation, and this can be the start of many diseases that don’t seem linked to the digestive system but have an unfortunate connection there.

Did you know that about 70% of your immune system lives in and around your digestive system?

A healthy digestive system maintains its barrier and the food you eat, passes through, is absorbed, and the waste is eliminated.

The second important part of your digestive system, is the billions of friendly health promoting microbes.  Gut microbes help you digest and absorb nutrients.  They fight off disease causing microbes, make certain vitamins, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

HOW TO IMPROVE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM HEALTH?

It’s always best to eliminate the cause rather than just treat the symptom.

Stop feeding your digestive system junk to deal with.  That means eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol.  Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body and digestive system feels.

You may also want to eliminate other digestion irritants such as dairy and grains.  These can contain compounds that can irritate some people’s digestive system.  Try to eliminate them for a full month to see if it makes a difference to your health.

Eat nutrient dense foods to maximise the chance of them being absorbed.  These nutrients can help your body to build and repair your digestive system, and every other part of your body.  Some nutrient dense foods to include are dark leafy greens and fruits and vegetables that contain fibre. 

If you are not eating enough fibre every day, this can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.  Fibre feeds your good bacteria in the digestive tract, to help you to digest and absorb your food.

TIPS TO HELP WITH DIGESTION

Are you paying attention to how you are eating?

Make sure that you are chewing your food really well and not gulping it down as fast as you can. 

Try not to get too hungry because this can lead to eating food too fast and you will end up gulping it down.  You are then not focusing on chewing your food properly. 

This will really help your body to digest food properly and result in less stomach discomfort.

Before you start eating, take a few deep breaths so you are fully relaxed and aware of what you are eating.  This will help start the digestion process and the food you eat will pass through the digestion much better. 

Eat until you are satisfied and start to feel full.  It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to tell you that it is full! 

Even if you have not finished the food on your plate, do not overeat because this can cause a lot of stress on your digestion.  Save the food for later.  Next time, you can give yourself a smaller portion when you know how much you can eat to feel satisfied. 

Nurture your gut bacteria and feed it what it loves to eat and that is fibre.  It feeds on the fibre from your food and this produces certain acids to help keep your digestive tract healthy and thriving. 

A good probiotic daily can help in keeping your good bacteria growing.  Fermented foods are another good source of good bacteria.  Eating fibre from fruits, vegetables and salads will greatly benefit your gut garden and keep it blooming with less weeds to cause disruption.

Make sure you have enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) to start the digestion process in your stomach. 

Your stomach contains stomach acid called hydrochloric acid (HCL).  The stomach is meant to be acidic so it can kill off any bacteria from the food you have eaten and start to break apart the protein you have eaten by the enzyme called pepsin.  Carbohydrates are further broken down in the stomach but no fat is digested in the stomach.   Your stomach also produces intrinsic factor to help produce and absorb Vitamin B12 from what you eat.

What can go wrong in the stomach is that you do not have enough stomach acid to break down food properly.  The food is not broken down well and you won’t be getting all the nutrition from those foods either.  These food particles are passed through the digestive system and fermented by your gut flora to cause gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea.  It can also contribute to food sensitivities. 

The food particles that are fermented can create a bacterial overgrowth that can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and the overgrowth of candida.

Symptoms of low stomach acid are – acid reflux or upper abdominal discomfort including the symptoms I mentioned above. 

You can increase your levels of stomach acid by making a few changes to your diet and by taking a few herbs and supplements to help raise up levels. 

I would recommend that you stop eating meat for a while until your stomach acid levels are improved.  This will help your digestion because meat is hard to break down.

I have written a book about acid reflux which gives lots of advice on how to raise up stomach acid levels.  You can download it here – http://bit.ly/2MpWGe7

WHAT CAN HELP THE DIGESTION PROCESS ALONG AND STRENGTHEN THE DIGESTIVE TRACT?

Lemon or lime juice put onto your food can help with easier digestion.

Apple cider vinegar.  You can drink this before you eat to help with production of stomach acid.  Take 1 tsp before you eat or dilute it in a bit of water if you don’t like the taste.

Grating ginger root onto your food.

You can make a ginger pickle with the juice of a lemon and adding a large chunk of chopped up ginger.  Chew on this pickle before eating for a few minutes and then spit it out.

Eat a small salad before a cooked meal or an apple as the enzymes in the raw food can kick start the digestion process. 

Peppermint or spearmint drank after a meal.  I like Clipper after dinner tea.