I would like to wish all my friends, clients, family and colleagues a very happy and fulfilled holiday season.
I think that digestion and eating are common concerns during the holidays, and I am hoping that the information in this short article will be helpful at increasing your energy, immunity, serenity and peace of mind, over the holiday season.
DIGESTION AND ASSIMILATION
Basic Symptoms from a Naturopathic (Natural) Perspective:
The most common digestive symptoms that people over thirty have are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, fuzzy thinking, fatigue after eating, headaches from not eating or after eating, burning in the stomach, sinus congestion and irritability either from not eating or after eating.
These symptoms are all due to one or more digestive disorders. The purpose of this short article is not to diagnose your digestive problems, nor to give an exhaustive list of possible digestive problem. Rather, this article will give your some basic guidelines for everyone to increase your assimilation and digestive abilities, regardless of the specific problem you may have.
The information in this article is also meant to spark your interest at going further. In other words, with a few tests, we can determine the exact reason behind your particular digestive problem, and can design a tailor-made program JUST FOR YOU!
Basic Symptoms from a Chinese Medical Perspective:
A basic tenet of Chinese medicine is that if your digestion is working well, everything else will work well too. In other words, if your digestion is not working well, you are assured to have other health problems, too. Poor overall health follows poor digestive health as a matter of course.
Doctors of Chinese Medicine will look at your tongue. So you have a coating? Is your coating white or yellow? Do you have teeth marks on the sides? Do you have a bright pink tip? Do you have a crack in the center? These are just a few of the factors we examine to determine the cause of your specific problem.
The following are just some very basic ideas of supplements you may want to try for digestion. These are generalizations, since we all need slightly different products to optimize our own body’s unique performance.
Probiotics are vital for everyone to take. These are the body’s own-naturally occurring bacteria, which become compromised with age or illness.
Digestive Enzymes: These should include both upper and lower GI tract enzymes. In general, the more expensive the enzymes, the better they are. Some people need only upper, and some only lower and some need both.
Ginseng and Cardamom or Ginseng and Astragalus: These are two separate Chinese herbal formulas designed to work on the spleen and liver meridians in Chinese medicine. Depending on your particular weakness, one or both of these in alternation, will improve digestion, energy, mental fogginess and immunity.
Nux Vomica homeopathic remedy is useful for any withdrawal symptoms when you are giving up coffee or other stimulants. It’s particularly effective at eliminating the symptom of headaches, diarrhea or constipation, and can be useful for heartburn. While I prefer prescribing specific homeopathic remedies based on your personal, individual symptoms, I want to make sure you know about Nux Vomica in case you are a “do-it-yourselfer” and want to clear up systemic toxins and help clean up the digestive tract and liver toxicity from holiday parties.
Gentianna Herbal Combination is invaluable for gas, bloating and other symptoms of heat in the system, such as scratchy throat or red eyes. It’s also good for urinary tract infections and diarrhea.
Magnesium citrate can be used to treat a mild case of constipation very safely without the use of harmful over the counter drugs, which will only weaken your colon’s natural peristalsis. If you are on laxative, I encourage you to stop them as soon as possible and get onto a natural regimen.
Condurango homeopathic tincture is useful in cases of diarrhea.
Ponay tea is great, not only to burn fat and lose weight, but as a general tonic tea to help with digestion and for energy.
Special holiday section from Dr. Martin:
Healing your food allergies
Is your sandwich making you cranky?
I know this sounds like a huge generalization, but most of us truly do have food allergies that affect our health, moods, energy levels, and more. Most people tend to be allergic to some of the foods eaten on a regular basis, including gluten (in the form of wheat, oats, rye, barely, malt,), dairy products, chocolate, tomatoes, oranges, and other common foods.
So what can you do?
The first step is detection. To detect which foods may be affecting you, pick one you eat frequently and eliminate it from your diet for one to two months. If you feel better, you are probably allergic to it. If you don’t notice any improvement, pick another food and cut that from your diet.
It could also be that a particular combination of foods is causing your symptoms, in which case you would need to stop several foods at a time to determine that. I guarantee that however long and difficult this investigation may seem to take, the end result will be worth it!
Here’s Where to Start:
Some of the most common foods to try to avoid are cold or frozen foods, raw foods, gluten containing foods, refined carbohydrates (such as white flour products), overly processed foods, artificial ingredients, food additives, coloring agents, chocolate and sugar containing foods, caffeine and cow’s dairy foods.
The most common foods causing most people digestive upset are gluten containing foods (wheat, rye, barley, oat, malt,) cow’s milk derived dairy products, refined carbohydrates (white flour products primarily,) and sugar in any form.
You can find many gluten-free foods and dairy free foods at any health food store. Stevia is a good sugar substitute.
Stick to complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains and beans.
NOTE: Symptoms that might occur when you are withdrawing from a food you are allergic to include nausea, blood sugar swings, irritability, fatigue, headaches, nervousness, insecurity feelings, blurred vision, and digestive problems. These symptoms will pass! And once the food has cleared from your system, you can usually add it back into your diet. Just be sure to add it in on a rotational basis, eating it only every 3-5 days, or once per week, rather than daily.
Basic Principles of Food Combining:
Many people already know all or at least some of these basic eating principles. But sitting with one of my long-term patients last week, and discussing her digestive problems, I realized that this is important information that we all often forget, due to our stressful lifestyles, and that it doesn’t hurt being reminded now and then.
Even if you don’t have any digestive problems, eating by these principles will often be very helpful in boosting your body’s ability to assimilate and digest the foods you’re eating. And by the way, if your digestion is working well, your immune system will also function much better, and your intellectual/mental processes will work better as well.
Separate all fruits from other foods by an hour or more. This is because fruit digests in a different part of the digestive tract than other foods, and needs it’s own time to break down and assimilate.
Actually, each type of food we eat digests a little differently; so that the less varied the foods you eat in any one setting, the better.
At any one meal, only eat one protein at a time. Don’t mix your proteins. In other words, if you are eating fish, then only eat fish, and don’t mix it with chicken or red meat. Each digests a little differently, and will make problems for the other, in terms of breaking them down fully.
The same goes for your complex carbohydrates and starches. Try to limit them to only one or two types in any given meal. Beans, rice and potatoes all break down a little differently.
Vegetables generally go well with any other food, including protein or carbohydrates and starches. But cook them well, because the fiber in vegetables is very hard for most people to digest. Also the raw food people have a good point about the enzymes in raw foods being good for you, the problem is that most people do not have digestive tracts that are strong enough to adequately break down and make use of the raw foods diet.
Any frozen foods are to be avoided like the plague, especially frozen dairy products. These give you two of the hardest foods to digest: frozen and dairy. They will weaken the digestive system and are to be avoided like the plague.
Don’t drink liquids with your meals, unless it is hot tea, or hot water with lemon, or lime, or hot water with apple cider vinegar and a little honey. Water dilutes the stomach acids and makes it almost impossible to completely break down your protein foods.
Hot tea, especially Ponay, mint or bancha twig tea, make foods digest more easily, encouraging the breakdown of foods.
If your digestion is very weak, then consider separating your proteins from your carbohydrates, and eating them at a different time.
When we are young kids, we can eat anything, because we have uncompromised digestive systems, with plenty of digestive enzymes. But as we age, after age 30 or so, most of us do not have the stomach acids and pancreatic enzymes we need to break all this stuff down. Also, stress compromises our digestive abilities. So the simpler you eat, the better.
If you are going to eat a raw salad, it’ll digest better at the end of the meal, as the Europeans do. But stay away from creamy dressings. Instead, use good quality apple cider vinegar and good quality oil. Beginning the meal with hot soup, like miso, is a good idea to get the digestive juices flowing.
Don’t end the meal with sugar, as it will weaken the digestive process, and weaken your immunity and energy, even though it feels good for about 20 minutes after eating it, your energy will take a big dip about 1-2 hours latter, increasing your cravings for more sugar or caffeine.
TAKE CARE AND TRY TO HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON. AND REMEMBER, WHAT WAS IT JOHN LENNON SAID: “THE LOVE YOU TAKE, IS EQUAL TO THE LOVE YOU MAKE.”
AND YOU KNOW THE OLD SAYING: IF YOU FIND YOURSELF HAVING TROUBLE LOVING YOURSELF OVER THE HOLIDAYS, TRY AT LEAST DOING THINGS TO SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR OTHERS.