How to Start Protecting Your Gut Health

PaulPack_Escapada_Lauenburg2018_03_Kitchen_0012_300DPIFull.jpg

Why good Gut Health is more Important now than ever!

After years of struggling with mysterious health and illnesses, visiting doctor after doctor, taking test after test, and spending hundreds on your health, it can all boil down to one simple answer: toxicity.

Our bodies were built to deal with natural pollution created by digestion, respiration, and metabolism, but they're not designed to handle the enormous amount of artificial pollutants we're exposed to in today's chemical-filled world. The only way to deal with this toxic overload is to assist the body's natural self-cleansing mechanisms with supporting your digestion. One way you can start detoxing today is by supporting you gut microbiome, the place where over 70 percent of your immune system lives.

PaulPack_Escapada_Lauenburg2018_03_Kitchen_0037_.jpg

Hunger and appetite together drive you to do one very important thing: eat. When you feel that pang of hunger, you know what you need to do. But eating is about more than just quieting your appetite. You do not subsist on calories alone; you need a spectrum of nutrients and vitamins to feed your body on a cellular level. Choose foods based on how they nourish every cell in your body rather than by how many calories you believe they will glue to your waistline. When you're eating clean, believe it or not, those calories don't add up to love handles because those foods will be supporting your microbiome and nourishing your body. Choose foods based on how they nourish every cell in your body rather than by how many calories you believe they will glue to your waistline. When you're eating clean, believe it or not, those calories don't add up to love handles because those foods will be supporting your microbiome and nourishing your body.

The Escapada Way to Improve your Gut Health:

We may be eating all the “right” foods but as well as considering the foods we put into our bodies, an holistic approach to nutrition must also consider the body’s ability to digest and assimilate all the goodness that passes through our mouths. Our digestive system tends to be overlooked as we fixate on the quest for health through nutrition. The positive impact of our food choices can be enhanced if we also give some attention to supporting our digestion to an optimum functioningIn Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, there is a concept of “digestive fire”, which we call the “Spleen Yang” in Chinese medicine and “Agni” in Ayurvedic Medicine. Supporting digestion means taking care of this fire and avoiding habits that deplete it. Lets look at how we to eat, when to eat it and what to eat in order to keep your digestive system healthy and functioning to an optimum level.

We have split this up into three main areas: How We Eat ⎟When We Eat ⎟What We Eat

How We Eat:

Joy - Enjoying our food is a huge part of being fully nourished by what we eat.
If we are happy when we eat and happy in our relationship with food, then our bodies will accept the food more effectively into our system. Often, it is more important for us to heal our relationship with food than it is to change what we eat.

PaulPack_Escapada_Lauenburg2018_04_Breakfast_0307_.jpg

Relaxation: Eat in a calm environment.
Digestion is facilitated by the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by relaxation, the sympathetic by action. When we eat food ‘on the run’ or come to the table stressed the sympathetic nervous system is dominant, energy and blood are shunted away from the digestive system toward the brain and muscles. There is a strong physiological reason behind this simple call to relax, to slow down before eating. Eating in a relaxed state benefits digestion. Simple. Eating while stressed, nervous or uptight will lead to food stagnating in your digestive system. You also should refrain from watching TV, listening to the radio, browsing the Internet, texting, and talking on the phone. You can’t remain aware when you are distracted. In the long term it can lead to heartburn or ulcers. Meal times are definitely not the time for family arguments!

The stomach has no teeth – Digestion starts in the mouth. Make sure that you chew your food well. Eat slowly so that your system has time to digest. Otherwise in the short term food will stagnate and lead to indigestion and in the long term your digestive system can weaken. Healthy digestion requires an abundance of digestive fluids.

Drink only small amounts at meals - Drinking large amounts of anything dilutes the gastric juices and makes digestion difficult for your body. Have some tea or water at room temperature; take only small sips throughout the meal. Any other beverage should be consumed outside of meals.

Don’t chill your stomach – The digestive system favors warmth. In practice this means avoiding excessive and continuous consumption of cold energy foods, chilled drinks and refrigerated foods and giving preference to warm energy cooked foods. Avoid over-eating raw foods, especially if you know your digestive system is weak. Instead lightly steam or stir-fry vegetables to make them more digestible without losing valuable nutrients. Cooking soups and stews is a good way to retain more of the goodness from vegetables and they are very easy to digest.

Eat only when you are hungry – This may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you eaten only because you looked at the clock and noticed that it was coffee time, snack time, or lunchtime?
A good exercise is to put your hand over your stomach, close your eyes, and feel if there’s any undigested food left in there. You might feel a slight sense of fullness. Or you may also feel a little indigestion; or if you burp, you can taste undigested food. That’s a good indicator of an undigested meal. Another way to decide if you really need more food is to keep track of when you last put anything in your mouth besides water.

For Vata types, two to four hours should go by before they eat again. Pitta types should wait three to five hours between meals, and Kapha types should wait four to six before eating again.

Stop eating when you’re satisfied but not full – Most of us don’t know what “satisfied” feels like because we always eat until we’re full. With practice you will regain the ability to detect your body’s signals of satisfaction. When you eat slowly and listen to your body, you will be able to feel it.

PaulPack_Escapada_Lauenburg2018_03_Kitchen_0165_.jpg

Listen to your body – We know what food is good for us, and the foods that keep us healthy. The multitude of advice in the form of diets, science, news and info like this, can undermine our ability to know what is good for us. How does your body feel before, after and during eating different foods? Listen carefully and trust your body.

Cravings – Cravings for sweet foods is a sign that your digestive system is weak (or sometimes that hormones are out of balance). Make sure you are getting plenty of foods that maintain a steady blood-sugar level e.g. like oats or brown rice and always keep some healthy snacks ready. Craving for salty food may mean that you are low in certain minerals. Eat plenty of lightly cooked vegetables and if you use salt in your cooking make sure it is unbleached sea-salt. Many processed foods contain additives that confuse our bodies and make us crave the food (like MSG). Often we crave for the very foods that are doing us harm, and we may need to eliminate this food entirely for a while.

When We Eat:

Eat the main meal early – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Our digestive systems are at their strongest in the morning and at their weakest in the evenings. Eat a good hearty breakfast, e.g. porridge, muesli or a cooked breakfast. It really is the most important meal of your day. When we eat late at night our system is naturally slowing down and the food sits around for longer in the digestive system and can lead to sleeping problems.

Avoid eating late at night – Your digestive system can’t cope with a large meal when your metabolism has already slowed down. In the short term this will overburden your digestive system, possibly disturbing your sleep. This food will sit, undigested in your stomach and can make you sluggish, groggy and slightly nauseous in the morning. In the long term it will deplete the digestive fluids and cause digestive problems.

The stomach likes regularity – Try to make your meal times as regular as possible, as your body will prepare for digestion. Skipping meals and constant snacking can weaken the digestive system.

Take time to digest – Your body needs time to digest once you have eaten your food. Try not to rush on to the next thing, but instead take a little time to digest you food and relax.

What We Eat:

PaulPack_Escapada_Lauenburg2018_03_Kitchen_0746_.jpg

Choose food with strong lifeforce – Always choose fresh over processed food. Choose organic over non-organic where possible. Choose locally-grown in-season food whenever possible. Avoid processed and pre-packaged foods. The extra money and time that it takes is well worth it.

Avoid the nasty stuff – It is important to avoid as much as possible, additives that denatured foods such as artificial colourings, sweeteners, preservatives and flavourings. Choose good quality fats, e.g. a good quality extra virgin olive oil or ghee and avoid poor quality and hydrogenated vegetable fats.

Eat a balanced diet and avoid extremes – Foods that are relatively bland and neutral should make up the bulk of your diet, while foods that are more extreme in nature (strongly flavoured, rich, greasy, spicy, salty, sweet, etc.) should make up only a part of what we eat. This means that very concentrated and refined foods (like sugar and fruit juice) should only be consumed occasionally. Over-consuming any specific food may stress the body. It is not unusual for somebody to eat wheat-based cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for evening meal – resulting in a diet mostly consisting of wheat. This is the not balanced and may lead to digestive problems.

Variety is the spice of life – Eat a wide range of different foods and try to eat a range of different coloured vegetables with every meal: red, orange, green, purple, yellow. The look is appealing and you will be getting a good range of nutrients.