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.