Christine Craig, ND
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and preve.
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Well, the future is now: The power of healing actually rests within the human body itself. No matter what you do to your body, it always tries to make itself whole again.
When an illness occurs, the body is doing what it was hardwired to do to extract energy and protect you from harmful chemicals and micro-organisms. Moreover, you can consciously help your body prevent disease by avoiding toxic chemicals, food and thoughts.
Your digestive system is designed to run optimally on a high fibre, raw food diet, but it will always try to extract nutrients and energy from whatever you feed it. If your diet is poor, you'll suffer the consequences. A diet low in fibre and nutrients will eventually deplete the body of energy, produce a toxic buildup and cause disease.
Physical complaints both small and large are the body's way of communicating. If you are not having three bowel movements a day, you may be suffering from constipation. Constipation causes toxicity because the fecal matter stored in the body is a breeding ground for bacteria, parasites and yeast. This can cause numerous health problems, including headaches, irritability, skin problems and colon cancer.
Clearly, good digestion is pivotal in your body's healing process. The digestive tract, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, is simply a long tube with four compartments, beginning with the mouth. Each compartment is separated by a valve, and is designed to progressively break down food, which is then converted into fuel that enables the body to function properly. Here's how it works.
One of the most important things you can do to help your digestive system is chew your food into a soupy slurry before swallowing. Chewing breaks food down into small particles so that your digestive juices can break it down even further. Saliva also contains digestive enzymes that help the body absorb nutrients.
Chewing also stimulates many organs in the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, for example, each organ correlates with a tooth; therefore, using your teeth has the potential to stimulate your organs. Even texture can stimulate an organ. Modern science confirms that moving your jaw muscles while eating crunchy food stimulates the pituitary gland, which, in turn, helps to regulate growth, reproduction and energy levels.
Once food is swallowed, it travels past the valve in the esophagus into compartment number two, the stomach, which is lined with thick mucus in order to protect it from the strong stomach acid needed to break down proteins.
3. Small Intestine
The partially digested food then passes through another valve into compartment three, the small intestine. This compartment is both intricate and fascinating because the strong acid already premixed with the partially digested food triggers the release of digestive juices from the pancreas and gallbladder.
The pancreas is an organ with a dual function: it produces and stores digestive enzymes and regulates blood sugar levels via a hormone called insulin. Pancreatic enzymes are released along with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to neutralize the acidity of the food mixture you're digesting.
The gallbladder is the storage organ for bile, a substance that transforms fat into absorbable particles. With the help of the gallbladder, food is broken down further by still more digestive enzymes. Finally, food nutrients are ready to be absorbed by the body.
4. Large Intestine
Any undigested food that did not get absorbed into the small intestine then passes into the fourth compartment, the large intestine, also known as the colon. This organ fights off yeast, toxins and unfriendly bacteria, and is filled with friendly bacteria that manufacture vitamins A, B and K. In addition, gallons of water pass through the large intestine, aiding in the final breakdown of food. After this, voila! the last valve opens. Don't forget to flush!
A Fibrous Diet
To keep your digestive system properly functioning and to help your body reach its maximum potential, ensure your diet is alive, raw and full of fibre. Live foods such as sprouts, miso, organic yogurt and unpasteurized sauerkraut are loaded with nutrients and enzymes that minimize the work the digestive tract has to do. The less energy expended on digestion, the more energy you will have for other activities.
Unfortunately, the standard North American diet has become a low-grade fuel that doesn't meet the body's needs. Avoid processed, preserved and fried foods because they contain fewer nutrients and require a lot of energy to digest if they can be digested at all.
Research studies conclude that humans need an average of four cups of fibre per day. Good sources of fibre include raw vegetables, whole cooked or sprouted grains, sprouts, fruit and beans. Fibre absorbs toxins from the large intestine and bloodstream, helps control blood sugar levels, cleans debris off the intestinal walls and initiates spasms throughout the digestive tract that move stool out of the body.
If you want to reach your ultimate performance potential and prevent and treat illness, supporting the digestive system with a nourishing, whole foods diet is an important step.