I first want to express gratitude to those of you who have written and acknowledged my story in Practicing Self Care Part I and II. It does make it worthwhile!

Part III – Digestion

All the good nutritious food in the world, all the supplements that could be a help to you and your health goals won’t be worth anything if you can’t get the nutrition out of food/supplements through a healthy digestive process. What is does healthy digestion look like?

Healthy digestion means you are able to eliminate daily, twice a day or even three times a day. If you are not having a solid bowel movement at least once a day, there is a genuine problem.  Eating real food as opposed to what Michael Pollan calls ‘food-like substances’ is the foundation of healthy digestion. Build up of plaque and toxins in the colon come from processed junk foods, too much wheat, starch, unhealthy cooking oils and high glycemic carbohydrates. The metabolic system is ingeniously designed to “hold on” to excess matter when it feels threatened, invaded or in an emergency, toxic state.

Are you?

Synthetic substances, toxic chemicals, rancid cooking oils, processed carbohydrates all cause systemic inflammation in the gut, in the cardiovascular system and even in the brain. You may need to consider a supervised fast or hydrocolonic therapy.

Eating clean should be a goal for all of us. It’s truly amazing how little we know about the food we eat, where it comes from, how it was grown, how it was processed and manufactured. If you knew how cereal is made, you would never eat it again. It kind of reminds me of the old joke about Dominoes Pizza, “The box it came in tastes better.” They may have improved over the years, I don’t know because I no longer eat wheat, but the point is to illustrate that what we need is high quality nutrients, not so much sugars and starches to fill our bellies.

My view has changed quite a bit over the years. While I lived in India and Bangladesh, the filling of the belly was more important than the quality of the food. Just getting enough to eat was a primary goal for the poor in the Third World. But here in a First World nation like the USA, we need to ask better questions in order to get better answers.

Since I am writing this in April, it’s a good time to talk about fasting, detox and cleansing. Spring time is time to shed the baggage of winter. You open the windows of your home to let in the refreshing Spring time air. You change into brightly colored clothes and there is a better chance of getting into outdoor routines. Let that spirit of renewal trickle down to your internals. Open up the passageways and get rid of old stuff that is no longer needed. Cleanse, eliminate, detoxify.

First, learn to breathe. Sounds funny, right? We sit at desks most of the day and we breathe very shallow breaths. We don’t fill up the lungs, much less move the diaphragm.  So first step in detox is to breathe deeply. Stand up from your desk several times a day and move your arms over your head in a sweeping motion while you  breathe in and fill up. Your belly should expand, breathe in a little more. Hold it for a few seconds and then release. Did you breathe in through your nose and exhale through your nose? That’s what it is there for, it’s your body’s natural filtration unit. So use it. The movement of your arms in conjunction with deep breathing will start to move your detoxing lymph system. There is no pump for the lymph system and you have to move to keep your lymph system moving. The lymph system hydraulically moves dead cells and waste matter out of your system. It all starts with breathing.

You can’t live for more than a few minutes without breathing, so consider how important it is to breathe properly!

Second, drink more water. It’s getting warmer outside and you need to hydrate. You’ve heard 8 cups of water a day. Well, that’s the minimum. Flush, rinse and repeat. Keep your plumbing in good order by testing it frequently! You can only live a few minutes without air, a few days without water. You have to drink lots of good, clean water. Water is alkalizing and works to replenish your system. Make sure you have a good water source. Use a brita filter or equivalent if no other filtering systems are available.

Third, you can go weeks without food. Food is necessary to long term survival but if you haven’t fasted recently, it’s a good idea to try a 3  — 7 day fast. To do this safely, you should consider a planned fast. Water only can be tough and could engender some detox headaches, should only be done by an experienced faster, or under the supervision of a Naturopath or Health Coach.  Juicing is a form of fast where you only drink the juice of vegetables and fruits(mainly apples). And then there are liquid fasts that encompass soups and  nutritious smoothies.  Read about a typical fasting plan here

The detox benefits of a fast can be enormous. After a fast you should re-introduce moderate amounts of food and choose food wisely. Pay attention when you reintroduce a food and see how you feel one or two hours after you eat. Things to watch out for: How are your reacting to dairy? To Wheat? To Nuts? Your body will give you important information if you listen.You can also taste things that you haven’t tasted in years because the fast will help to ‘reset’ the taste buds. You will be able to distinguish sweetness and savory dishes with a new appreciation. You may find that vegetables occupy a new area of interest.

Suggested Supplements in lieu of a fast: (choose either Daily Fiber or Colon Cleanse, not both) (These are not to be used while fasting.)

Daily Fiber – If you are not eating plenty of brightly colored veggies at least twice a day (many nutritionists recommend 5 servings of veggies a day), then you should supplement with psyllium husks. 5 capsules a day. Will help with a better elimination and better cholesterol scores.

If you are overweight and want to lost fat, then check out

Colon Cleanse – Use one bottle in a month and take one month off then repeat the regimen.

Further digestion help:

Healthy Digestion Kit -If you are unable to digest your food very well, then by all means use this Healthy Digestion Protocol while you work on improving your diet.

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