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Nutrient Absorption

The body uses nutrients from food for energy, growth, and cell repair, hence, you want to optimize your nutrient absorption. However, nutrient absorption can vary tremendously, depending on many factors. So how do you know if you have poor digestion or malabsorption? If you have a number of the symptoms listed below, you may have a digestion or nutrient absorption problem.

  • Bloating
  • Belching and/or flatulence
  • Feeling full hours after a meal
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Food allergies
  • Weak, cracked finger nails
  • Iron deficiency
  • B12 deficiency
  • Skin problems, such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea
  • Parasites
  • Candida

Digestion 101

Digestion involves the disassembly of the food you eat, its movement through the digestive tract, and the chemical breakdown of the large molecules of food into smaller molecules. Digestion begins in the mouth when we chew and swallow, and ends in the small intestine.

One of the most important factors in nutrient absorption is digestive enzymes, which break the chemical bonds in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and turn these compounds into microscopic substances that can be used at the cellular level. Without these enzymes, nutrients will never reach the cells that need them and they will merely get passed out of the body.

Chewing is stage one of proper digestion

Digestion starts in the mouth with saliva and the digestive enzyme amylase which breaks down starches into simple sugars. Coupled with the chewing action, the food is predigested into smaller pieces and a semi-liquid form, making it easier to digest when it reaches the stomach.

  • Most people do not chew their food thoroughly. When large particles of improperly chewed food enter the stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters the small intestine. There, bacteria will begin to break it down, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping, and other digestive problems.

Stomach acid is key to stage two of good digestion

The food moves from the mouth down the esophagus, through a one-way valve called the esophageal sphincter into the stomach. When it gets there, it is the stomach’s job to temporarily hold the food, churn and mix it, and begin to break it down. Depending on the contents of the meal, this process takes between 40 minutes to a few hours.

Glands in the stomach lining produce gastric juice which contains stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL) and the enzyme pepsin that digests protein. Stomach acid, being extremely acidic, sterilizes the food and destroys pathogenic bacteria and parasites, as well as their eggs and larvae.

  • Aging, stress, poor diet and lifestyle habits all contribute to a decline in stomach acid production.
  • Not having enough stomach acid may allow bacteria and parasites to survive and proliferate. About two-thirds of the world’s population have a type of bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) that live in their digestive tract. After a number of years, H. pylori may cause ulcers in the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine.
  • Low stomach acid gives rise to low pepsin production, which means you cannot digest protein properly. As a result, the food stagnates and ferments, setting you up for digestive problems.
  • In most cases of heartburn and acid reflux, it is the result of too little stomach acid, not too much. When the stomach is not acidic enough despite it being full of food, the esophageal sphincter may fail to stay completely closed, leading to heartburn and acid reflux.

Boost Immune System With Vit C

The vitamin C deficiency that resulted from this practice caused sailors to come down with a sometimes-deadly disease called scurvy. Scurvy results in bleeding, poor healing of wounds, hair and tooth loss and joint pain. Indeed the list of potential ailments due to a deficiency of vitamin C are numerous, including anemia, bleeding gums and nose, inability to fight infection and gingivitis, easy bruising, swollen and painful joints and weakened tooth enamel. In response, the British navy stocked their ships with lemons and limes and included the juice from these fruits in the meals of sailors on their ships. The ‘limeys’ were able to keep their vitamin C intake high enough for their sailors to stay healthy over long journeys.

Vitamin C is not manufactured by other elements inside the body, so we must rely on food sources to maintain an adequate supply. Thankfully, you can find a wide variety of foods that are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is water-soluble and it is not stored in the body. Excess amounts are flushed out through the urine, and we must maintain a steady supply to support normal growth and development.

Your body uses vitamin C to grow new tissue, particularly skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. This helps you to heal better from injuries and repair damage to cartilage and bones. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps to prevent damage from oxidizing agents or free radicals in the body. Its antioxidant properties extend beyond itself in that vitamin C helps to recover other antioxidants including vitamin E after they have been oxidized.

A healthy nutritious diet including a variety of vegetables and fruits with every meal should supply all of the vitamin C that you need. Long cooking cycles degrade the vitamin C in the food so fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are recommended. Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin C and other important nutrients. Other good choices of vegetables are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and squash such as butternut or acorn squash.

Fruits rich in vitamin C include citrus varieties such as oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons and tangerines. Berries including blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are also good sources. Other good fruit sources are kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple and watermelon. Packaged foods may be fortified with vitamin C. Read the labels of breakfast cereals and other packaged food carefully as many of these contain very high levels of sugar, which will create other problems that are best avoided. You might also see ascorbic acid or dehydroascorbic acid listed in the ingredients to help you identify vitamin C.

If fresh fruits are not available, supplementation may help you to sustain your vitamin C levels and keep your immune system strong. In addition, higher levels of vitamin C may be required if you are exposed to smoking or for women who are breastfeeding. It is believed that vitamin C helps to shorten the duration of a cold, but there is no evidence that it will prevent the cold itself.

Beneficial Fermented Foods

For thousands of years, people have fermented foods to preserve them for when supplies of fresh foods were not available.

The Romans preserved cabbages with salt, and Genghis Khan fed his armies fermented cabbage to sustain them on their campaigns through Europe. This use of preserved, fermented foods was a common practice for travelers as a source of nutrients. As late as World War I, allied forces relied on fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut as we now know it, to supply nutrients to soldiers on the battlefields of Europe.

The process of fermentation helps to preserve the food for use many months later. Fermentation also generates many health benefits for the consumer. The essential nutrients and vitamins are preserved. Sugars are broken down so they are more easily absorbed with far less insulin or allergy reaction, in the case of lactose intolerance to dairy products. The process also generates enzymes that are essential to supporting the digestion of foods that we eat. Finally, they are natural probiotics, jam-packed with beneficial microorganisms.

A healthy gut, supported by a strong population of beneficial bacteria, serves as a powerful booster for your immune system. The digestive tract is where nutrients are extracted from food and absorbed by the body. Enzyme and microbial activity accelerates digestion and generates enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants that are essential to health. They also protect us from pathogens and flush out toxins from our bodies.

You can find a variety of ready-to-use fermented products at your local supermarket. They include yoghurt, which is fermented milk (usually cow’s milk). The fermentation process breaks down the milk lactose to make it easier to digest and the yoghurt supplies billions of helpful bacteria. Be careful of brands with large amounts of sugar added, as that will create other problems. Another healthy fermented product from milk is kefir, a drink often found in the supermarket refrigerator.

Kombucha tea is another good source of enzymes and beneficial microbes. Kombucha is made from fermenting black tea. Other products you may find in the supermarket include kimchi, a Korean version of fermented cabbage and a mixture of other vegetables. Raw apple cider vinegar is also loaded with beneficial bacteria and has many different uses apart from supporting a healthy digestive system. You may find Japanese products like miso, and natto, both loaded with microbes and used in cooking soups, marinades and sauces.

If you feel adventurous, the processes for making your own fermented yoghurt, kefir, pickles and kimchi are relatively easy and they require no special equipment. Select healthy organic ingredients and you will be able to rely on the process for creating your own healthy, nutritious probiotic foods.

Chaga Mushroom

1. Prevention and treatment of cancer

The active compound in the Chaga mushroom has an essential role in prevention and management of cancer, according to research. Betulinic acid, Inotodiol, and Ergosterol peroxide are some of the essential compounds with anticancer properties. Betulinic acid induces cell apoptosis and prevents tumour development while Ergosterol peroxide inhibits colorectal cancer. Moreover, other extracts in Chaga mushroom help the immune system to recognise cancer cells as foreign and invasive; thus prompting the body to fight against them.

2. Immune booster

Chaga extracts boost and modulate the immune system through the production of immune cells Interleukin-6 and Lymphocyte B. Moreover, the extracts promote the immune system’s ability to differentiate between foreign cells and the body’s cells; thus increasing the accuracy of the immune system in responding to invasion by alien cells. Chaga extract plays a vital role in preventing allergic reactions by helping the body to recognise its cells more accurately; thus it cannot fight against its cells. In the event reducing the chances of occurrence of autoimmune disease.

Also, Chaga mushroom extracts are efficient in reduction of immune system hypersensitivity. Immune hypersensitivity result from a severe allergic reaction. Such reaction can lead to cardiac shock. As a biological response modifier, Chaga mushroom boosts the immune system when necessary and lower it when it is hypersensitive.

3. A powerful antiviral and antibiotic

Chaga extracts have potent antiviral and antimicrobial properties. For instance, Chaga extracts are effective against viruses as they inhibit replication of HIV 1 and prevent Herpes virus from infecting new cells. Furthermore, the extracts are effective in reducing infection due to Hepatitis C. The extracts stop the process that bacteria use to activate gene expression (quorum sensing), an essential step in fighting bacterial infection. A cup of Chaga tea is crucial in eliminating the bacteria that may cause ulcers.

4. Fights inflammation

Chaga extracts reduce overactivated immune responses through decreasing expression of molecules that activate inflammatory responses. Besides, the extracts minimise inflammation of the colon through lessening oxidative stress. Note that, low antioxidant levels can lead to inflammatory bowel syndrome, an inflammation of colon cells. Furthermore, methanolic extracts of Chaga extracts reduce pain stemming from inflammations, by blocking the effects of enzymes that take part in inflammatory pathways, nitric oxide synthase, and cyclooxygenase-2.

5. Powerful antioxidant

Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralising free radicles in the body. The free radicles cause oxidative stress. Chaga has the highest amount of antioxidant potency as compared to any other food. The high amounts of antioxidants are due to the high amount of polyphenols in the mushroom. Besides, the high amounts of Super Oxidase Dimutase, protect body cells against destructive effects of uncontrolled oxidation and free radicles. The antioxidative properties, reduce the rate of cell ageing.

Healthy Late Night Snacks

Nature has sleeping pills of its own and they work better than most drugs. You just have to find one that is best suited to your problems. Check out these healthy late-night snacks…

Almonds

If you are from the group that has trouble staying asleep, then you should go for almonds. The issue of not being able to stay asleep may be due to a lack of magnesium and almonds are rich in this stuff! Also, almonds do wonders for your bones.

Dairy

You remember how your mom used to push that warm glass of milk before bedtime when we were kids? Turns out milk isn’t the only dairy product that can help you get a good night’s rest. Cheese can do just the same- without the milk after taste! And not just cheese, break out the yoghurt too.

Lettuce

Do you like to get your greens in? Then that salad for dinner can go a long way than just keeping you in good shape. Lettuce has sleep-inducing characteristics. So, if you skipped lettuce in your salad for dinner, then you can always brew a tea. It’s pretty simple and effective; boil a few large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes and add a couple of sprigs of mint. Drink this before bed and you shall sleep like a baby. This phrase has never quite hit home with me, mainly because, I can’t get my baby to sleep… like a baby.

Pretzels?!

If you have an 8 hour window to catch some shut-eye and want to reduce the time it takes to actually fall asleep, then reach for that bag of pretzels. Yes, you read that right- PRETZELS! An increase in blood sugar and insulin levels cuts down the time it takes to actually fall asleep. Whether you can switch that up with a bucket of chocolate chip ice cream? Yeah, that might be pushing it.

Fish

Fish like tuna, halibut and salmon are rich in the vitamin B6 and this is the magical nutrient that helps make sleep inducing hormones, melatonin and serotonin so that you can sleep like a… Koala (Koalas sleep 22 hours a day!)

Chamomile Tea

Living up to clich├ęs, chamomile tea is known widely to have sleep-inducing properties. It also acts as a mild sedative and may help numb the pain from the daily grind. On a serious note, this tea has made it across the centuries, so it’s worth a try, no? If you want to take your chances up a notch, then try adding a spoonful of honey. The sugar from the honey increases insulin levels, making it easier to dose off.

Cereal

Love breakfast for dinner? Now you have a reason with solid scientific back up to indulge in a bowl of cereal every night. Carbs from the cereal and calcium from the milk are two great sources that can help you score some zzz’s.

Healthy Nutritional Eating

1. fat reserves in the body from our daily food intake:

If you don’t eat healthy foods, you will find that you are storing more fat that necessary or that you aren’t getting enough and you feel sluggish or weak. Along with energy-providing nutrients, like fats and carbohydrates, we also need the right nutrients to allow our organs to do their jobs. Hormones and other substances in the body make sure that everything is working properly:

If you don’t eat the right nutrients, your body cannot produce these hormones and, as a result, cannot function properly.

2. Lastly, healthy eating is important in order to prevent illness:

When we don’t get the right nutrients, our bodies natural defense system against diseases weakens, allowing viruses and bacteria to attack the body. A good example is to consider our body like a well trained army, if the army doesn’t have enough to eat, it will not do well in battle.

Without healthy meals and plenty of water, our bodies simply could not operate on a day-to-day basis. Understanding the different types of healthy food groups our bodies need on a day to day basis is vital and we should begin learning this as children.

However its still not too late. If your eating habits aren’t what they should be definitely consider changing your diet, following a good exercise program and you will start feeling better for it.

Zero Calorie Sweeteners

In this new study, researchers took several groups of rats and either fed them diets high in glucose, fructose, or artificial sweeteners (aspartame or acesulfame potassium). Acesulfame is sold in stores at Sunnett or Sweet One, and aspartame is sold as Equal or NutraSweet. Both are currently approved artificial sweeteners by the FDA.

Within three weeks the researchers found discernable differences between the groups per blood samples collected. They noted that the artificial sweeteners appeared to change the way their bodies processed fat and energy overall. They also noticed that the acesulfame potassium accumulated in the blood and had a negative impact on the cells lining the blood vessels.

Bottom line? Don’t think that switching to artificial sweeteners is the answer. For one, how many thin people do you see walking around drinking diet sodas all day? They don’t seem to work. This study helps us understand why. Also, continuing to drink sweet beverages hinders one’s ability to acclimate to lesser sweetened beverages and foods. It keeps the sweet desire active, per say, and doesn’t solve the problem of cravings. In fact it can make things worse by initiating an insulin response but, with no actual sugar entering the body, you end up with lower blood sugar and a “crash,” so to speak. The craving cycle continues.

Greens Are Edible Too

Turnip greens are nutritionally dense, providing a good supply of nutrients for their number of calories. One cupful, with 29 calories, supplies…

  • Vitamin A: more than twice the daily adult requirement
  • Vitamin C: 66 per cent
  • Calcium: 20 per cent
  • Iron: 6 per cent
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 42 per cent
  • Vitamin E: 14 per cent, and
  • several other B vitamins

Indigestible fiber, although not a nutrient, is important for slowing carbohydrate absorption, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, and for keeping your digestive system healthy. One cup of turnip greens supplies 20 per cent of the daily fiber requirement.

The need for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is not established but they are important for heart health. One cup of turnip greens provides about 92 mg of omega-3 fat and about 40 mg of omega-6 fatty acid.

Salads Packed with Living Nutrition. Make a salad with turnip greens, romaine lettuce, sliced cabbage, and your favorite vegetables. Or substitute the turnip greens for spinach occasionally.

Beet greens can add some color as well as nutrients to a salad or another dish. A cup of beet greens, with 39 calories, supplies the following recommended daily allowances…

  • vitamin A: 220 per cent
  • vitamin C: 60 per cent
  • calcium: 16 per cent
  • Iron: 6 per cent
  • Riboflavin (a B vitamin): 24 per cent
  • other B vitamins and vitamin E
  • Fiber: 17 per cent

A cupful of beet greens also supplies 8.6 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 93.6 mg of omega-6 fatty acids.

Use beet greens with other greens and chopped vegetables in a salad, or bake them with a little olive oil for a tasty, crunchy snack. Cooking.nytimes.com suggests making sauteed beet greens with olive oil, pepper flakes, and garlic.

If turnip and beet greens are unavailable at your local market, try planting from seeds or from scraps. Growing from seed will give you both roots and greens.

Cooking With Coconut Oil

What makes coconut oil unique is its combination of fatty acids rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that are easily absorbed in your body and perform a variety of essential functions. Chief among these is lauric acid, which is also produced in mother’s milk. The oil also includes polyunsaturated fat in the form of lineloic acid and polyunsaturated fats as oleic acid. In addition, coconut oil supplies vitamin E, providing a natural lubricant and protectant for the skin. Also present is vitamin K, essential for blood clotting, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

One of the key benefits of coconut oil relates to the ability of the body to absorb MCTs easily. This process can speed the expenditure of energy, which boosts the metabolism. The result is you burn more fat as you consume coconut oil. The effect of this appears more pronounced on the more dangerous fat in your abdomen and clumped around organs. Remarkably, good results in loss of this fat occurred without adding any new exercise regimens to test subjects. When the liver processes the fatty acids in the oil it produces ketones, which can be used as a fuel source and leave you feeling satisfied. This reduces your appetite, which further supports weight loss initiatives.

The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil and lauric acid in particular, also provide significant antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties to protect the body against a variety of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. Even bacteria resistant to some antibiotics are suppressed by the oil. This therapeutic effect extends to the bloodstream as well, where MCTs improve cholesterol levels and blood flow, which may lower the risk of heart disease.

The ketones created by the liver from MCTs are also shown to reduce the risk of epileptic seizures in children. These ketones in the bloodstream supply energy to the brain and support synaptic activity. Too much glucose destroys brain cells whereas ketones stimulate brain cell health and growth. This has shown to have an immediate effect on patients with mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease and is believed to be a key component in supporting brain health and cognitive function.

One of the first ways you can start to use coconut oil, preferably unrefined or virgin oil, is in frying and baking foods that call for oils or butter. The oil has a relatively high smoke point, which makes it a good match for cooking. You can also use a teaspoon of it on baked sweet potatoes and vegetables instead of butter. If you eat steel-cut or rolled oats or a yogurt smoothie for breakfast, add a spoonful into the mix as well. Soups, stews and curries can also be enhanced with a spoonful of this beneficial oil.

Eating Raw Food

Raw food contains micronutrients like phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids and fiber. Since it’s uncooked, all the nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the food are preserved. All these are required to enable the body to function at an optimal level. Raw food enhances the immune system, aids in weight loss, increases energy, improves memory, detoxification, digestion and elimination.

Eating food that consists predominantly of raw vegetables, greens, fruit, nuts, seeds and some cooked/steamed food is the best way to provide optimal nourishment for your body. This helps decrease the risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke etc.

These are the amazing benefits of eating raw food on a daily basis:

Weight loss: Fresh greens and vegetables are very low in calories so it’s possible to lose weight when incorporating fresh produce in your diet.

Immune system enhancement: Enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids essential fatty acids present in vegetables, greens, fruits enable the body to prevent and fight diseases.

Detoxification: Raw fresh living vegetables and fruit enhance the detoxification of toxins from the body.

Anti-inflammation: There are an abundant amount of antioxidants in raw fruits and vegetables that destroy free radicals which lead to inflammation in the body.

Anti-microbial function: Raw food such as raw coconut meat and garlic have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Alkalinity: Most raw fruits and vegetables are alkaline in nature while animal products such as meat and eggs become acidic when metabolized. The alkalinity from the fruits and vegetables helps to aid the body in maintaining a healthy acid alkaline balance.

Improved digestion and elimination: Raw fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water and fiber. This enhances elimination of toxic substances in the form of waste.

Mental clarity and memory improvement: Intuition becomes sharper and memory is improved with the raw diet because a high level of antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients are ingested daily.

Increased Energy and Vitality: A high amount of enzymes and nutrients are made available to the body through raw food which helps to increase energy in the body and allow the body to heal.

Better Sleep: Raw food contains unaltered proteins that enhance sleep and mood.The protein is broken down into amino acids which form neurotransmitters that are used in the brain to that help to regulate mood and promote sleep.