Since the beginning of my healing journey, I’ve been fascinated and drawn to the workings of the amazing digestive process. This is the part of life in which we receive nourishment.
Your gut is one of the key foundations of your health. It’s home to nearly 80% of your immune system, which makes this a great place to start if you truly want to heal your body from the inside out.
I can attest to this. By putting focus on strengthening my digestion over the years, I feel so much better!
Focus on strengthening stomach acid.
Of late, my digestive focus has been on my stomach and the hydrochloric acid (HCL) it contains. Your stomach acid is a big deal when it comes to your digestive process. It’s what’s responsible for breaking down your food so that you can absorb vitamins and minerals.
If you don’t have enough stomach acid, a major breakdown happens in your digestive process. Undigested food goes down into your gut.
When these big chunks of food go down into your intestines, they’re more likely to get stuck and start to rot. This causes a release of ammonia gas, which can lead to digestive distress and chronic fatigue. (You can read more about ammonia permeability in the book Medical Medium. I highly recommend this one!)
What stimulates stomach acid?
Digestion actually starts in your mouth, if you chew enough for your saliva to mix with the food.
Stomach acid is stimulated by both the aroma of food and from chewing! When you chew your food you send a message to your brain to send a message to your stomach to let it know that food’s on the way.
Have you ever noticed that you digest things better when you cook them yourself? That’s because your senses are picking up the sight and smells of the food. If you consistently eat out or eat pre-prepared food then you miss out on this step.
And it’s so important to chew your food! This is something I must consistently be conscious of. Slow down when you eat! If you inhale it and fail to chew it, then it’s more likely to go down undigested, especially if your stomach acid is already low.
Adrenaline lowers your stomach acid.
One of the biggest factors that decreases your stomach’s supply of HCL is adrenaline: stress.
This is your body’s natural way of protecting you. When your adrenal glands release adrenaline, this diverts the blood supply away from your digestive processes, so that it’s readily available in your arms and legs, so that you have more power to run away from your perceived threat.
Even if it’s only a stressful thought, your body reacts the same way. It releases adrenaline.
The problem with so many of us today is that the stress is consistent. For many, it’s directly related to diet and which foods to eat. If you’ve tried to switch to a restrictive diet then I bet you can relate.
Emotions of guilt, fear, anxiety, anger, hatred, shame or stress in general, all have a negative effect on your stomach acid.
Slow it down.
So, you can see how it’s not just what you eat that matters. It’s how you eat. Are you feeling stressed out when you’re putting food into your mouth?
Are you rushed? Distracted?
To help support digestive processes, it’s a good idea to eat sitting down, in a calm environment, without distractions. Put attention on your food – the smells, the taste, the texture, and if you can, prepare it yourself.
Before you start to eat, give loving intention to your food. Recognize how it is going to nourish your body. Take a long deep breath to calm your body down. Then chew, chew, chew!
Avoid drinking anything while you eat.
In order to digest food properly your stomach acid needs to be the proper PH, which is very acidic. If you add water into the mix then you mess with the PH levels of your stomach acid. Water is more alkaline, so it dilutes your stomach acid.
It’s said that drinking a glass of water at least 15 – 30 minutes prior to eating can help stimulate stomach acid, but it’s best to avoid drinking it while you’re eating. Don’t put a bite of food in and follow it up with water.
I know it’s common to eat and drink with food, so it may be a habit that you have to break.
On the Positive Side?
The subject of stomach acid has been fresh in my mind as I’ve taken daily steps to strengthen mine. For the past couple of months I’ve been juicing fresh organic celery juice in the mornings on an empty stomach. (I wrote more about why here).
This practice has made a significant difference in the strength of my digestion and has proven to me just how vital strong stomach acid is. I’ve been feeling SO much better. Have you tried this yet?
Remember moving forward to slow down, enjoy your food, eat sitting down, be calm. Avoid food if you’re stressed out. That increases adrenaline and makes it harder to digest.
What are your eating practices like? Do you commonly eat when you’re rushed or stressed out? Do you chew your food enough?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.