22 April 2008

Eating To Stay Healthy

Do you have a lack of energy, skin problems or constipation? These and many other problems can be related to poor digestive function. so many health problems begin in the digestive system. It may be that you are not getting the right nutrients. However, all to often it is not functioning properly, resulting in being unable to use the nutrients found in our foods. Even the best diet in the world won't help, if the digestive process is deficient. simplifying our eating process and making a few simple changes can make all the difference.

The first thing to look at with any health problem is what are you eating? This question goes further, with when and what with? Many people experience discomfort when they eat certain foods. This is often a result of what they are eating the food with. For example, melons eaten as a dessert will more often than not cause some sort of digestive complaint. Yet eating melon on it's own, on an empty stomach, will not. Food eaten in bad combinations tends to ferment in the stomach. This can result in a variety of conditions. Eating foods in good combinations helps to keep the body clean and free from stagnation. This also helps promote weight-loss.

The basic rules of food combining are; to start with, eat fruit on it's own, on an empty stomach. This is a great way to start the day to get the system moving and give you a quick energy boost, or at any time of day. The other important rule is never mix starches (potatoes, beans, grains, etc) with proteins (meat, eggs, dairy products, seeds and nuts). The theory behind these rules is that the time it takes each type of food to digest is different. A 'bad' mix will slow down digest, giving rise to fermentation and then gases and chemicals may be produced, adding to the overloaded system. The best food combination for a meal is to eat vegetables with protein, or vegetables with starch. Avocado, Olives and Seed Oils can be mixed with anything. This type of diet requires a little alteration to the 'average' Australian diet. Many of us have meat and potato based diets, but with a little imagination and the help of a some good cookbooks, it can be simply done.

Apple cider vinegar is an old fold remedy for many things. One of its best functions is to help with the digestion. When there is not enough acids being produced by the stomach, the digestion of protein is hampered. This can lead to food intolerance, which is the basis of many other disorders. Skin problems such as eczema, acne rosacea and dermatitis can be related to this. The absorption of calcium and iron are decreased by low stomach acid. Arthritis can be helped by improved stomach acidity, as can many digestive problems, such as bad breath, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. The amount of acid produced in the stomach decreases with age.

Approximately 40% of people will have a problem with low stomach acids by the age of 40, 50% by the age of 50, etc. Drinking a teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water before meals can help remedy this issue.Pineapple and papaya both contain a digestive enzyme, Bromelain. This helps improve the acid content of the stomach. Eating one of these two fruits three times a week can help improve digestion. These fruits, as all fruits, are best eaten on an empty stomach, so eat them as an appetizer. When suffering from indigestion problems, a glass of pineapple juice may help.

Stimulating the digestive process can be of a great benefit. Dandelion has the property of being a digestive bitter and this stimulates the flow of gastric juices, easing digestion. Roasted dandelion root is a popular coffee substitute. Other easily available 'bitters' are some of the leaves found in salad mixes.

Herbal teas such as Chamomile and Peppermint are relaxing and also calming to the digestive system. Many of our culinary herbs also play a role in improving digestion. Herbs such as Thyme, Rosemary, Cayenne and Ginger are great to add to foods not only improving taste, but also digestion.It is important to keep things flowing through our bodies. Dinking plenty of water every day is vital; around eight glass of water a day. It is best not to drink while eating; this dilutes the juices and makes it more difficult to digest. Tea and Coffee can be dehydrating to the body and can hinder digestion, it is best to avoid these. If you must have a cuppa, drink extra water.

Importantly, we must look at our eating environment. Each meal needs to be enjoyed. Gulping down our meals in a hurry as we run out the door is definitely not good for the digestion. Every meal should be a sit down meal. Time needs to be taken and a pleasant non-stressful environment found. Get up a few minutes early, if you haven't been making time to sit down for breakfast. Get away from your workspace when having lunch. Don't eat in front of the computer screen. Sit outside in the sunshine, when you can, to eat your lunch ( Please remember sun protection though).

Try to make your evening meal as peaceful and enjoyable as possible. It can be difficult after a long day, every one is tired and hungry and you just want it over and done with. If this is how it is, try taking 10 minutes for yourself before preparing the meal. Turn off the television, set the table and enjoy your family. Give each individual a chance to feel special; this is time to get to know your family and what is happening in their lives.