(to read about healing Superfoods click here)
Our stomach is the home of our intuition and it is the seat of all our emotional activity, so a relaxed stomach leads to calmness, stability and balance in the rest of the body. Eating foods which encourage a sense of calmness and balance is a powerful way to ensure that the body's energy, aliveness and intuitive sensitivity is maintained.
The purpose of the stomach is to break down whatever we swallow and turn it into an absorbable liquid. Only substances that are easily broken down (digested) and absorbed into the bloodstream (assimilated) are recognized as 'foods' by the body and anything that is not will be treated as a foreign substance.
The body will then take steps to protect itself, usually by the production of mucous in the passageways of the body (the throat, the sinuses and the entire digestive tract) and then it will strive to eliminate the mucous from the system - usually by means of a cold or flu when the mucous has accumulated to a significant level.
Water and enzymes are the two essential qualities that our body first looks for in any 'food' we eat, and they need to be present for our stomach to easily recognize and digest what it is given.
A food's enzymes are like its blueprint. They communicate with the digestive enzymes in our body, telling them what to look for in the food and to how to use it. They are the food's instruction manual.
Digestive enzymes are what break down our food, releasing the available vitamins, proteins and all the other nutrients for absorption into our bloodstream.
All foods in their raw natural state contain the enzymes needed to release the nurients stored within that food. These food enzymes combine and work in perfect partnership with our own digestive enzymes to ensure the easy digestion and absorption of what we put in our stomach. The more enzymes there are are in the food we eat, the easier it is for the body to recognize, digest and absorb the nourishment contained within.
The higher the water content of a food, the more easily it will be digested by our body.
Watery foods - like fruits and green salad - are digested much more quickly and easily than denser foods - like nuts, and dried fruit - which require alot more work from the stomach. These foods can be made lighter by soaking them in water for several hours, thus raising their water content and making them more easily digestible. All dried and powdered foods are digested and absorbed more easily when rehydrated or mixed with more moist foods and drinks. Oily foods are the hardest for the stomach because of oil's complete insolublity in water, with Coconut oil being a rare exception.
So, proper digestion cannot happen without these two vital ingredients: water and enzymes. If either is missing from a food we eat, our body tries to make up the difference before it can attempt digestion. It does this by removing them from the organs of our body, dehydrating and depleting us in the process. We can try and restore our body's water content by drinking more fluid (although the best way is by eating juicy and watery fresh foods) but the body's digestive enzymes are in limited supply and take much more time to restore.
The more enzyme-deficient foods we eat, the weaker our digestive system becomes and the harder it is for our stomach to digest anything. This is when raw foods become especially hard to digest because they rely so much on joint enzyme activity, whereas cooked foods do not seem to demand so much from our stomach, and so they seem easier to digest.
Enzyme deficiency weakens the entire digestive system, making it more vulnerable to sickness, and because our digestive system is the foundation of our physical body, if it is weak then the whole structure will be unstable.
So to start repairing the damage done to our stomach by years of eating enzyme-deficient foods we need to begin eating alot more probiotic and fermented foods, because they are literally alive with enzymes, and they quickly help to re-establish a strong digestive environment. The very best foods are Kefir and Sauerkraut, but probiotic supplements are also good if they are in an easily absorbable form like liquids, or powders that can be mixed with liquids.
Whenever we eat something cooked, it will make a big difference if we balance it out with something fresh and raw at the same time, like a chunky salad or a serving of non-sweet fruit - like tomato, olives avocado, cucumber etc. Eating a massive abundance of fresh fruit (especially the more filling, non-sweet kind like avocados) will help to re-align our stomach with more vibrant foods and help to reduce our complete dependence on cooked food.
Secrets of the Stomach:
1) The stomach deals with foods in the order they were eaten, so eating lighter, more watery foods before eating heavier, denser foods will greatly benefit digestion and prevent gas.
2) Our stomach needs all food turned to a liquid before any nutrients can be absorbed into the blood and chewing our food to a watery pulp is the majority of this process.
3) Blended meals such as soups and smoothies give our stomach - and our jaws - the minimum amount of work to do, although it is still best to mix them with the saliva in our mouth before swallowing them.
4) Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir are predigested, probiotic and they heal and strengthen the entire digestive system when we eat them.
5) If we feel tired and heavy after a meal, this means we have overburdened our stomach. Eating the amount of food that leaves us feeling satisfied but still alert after a meal will help keep the stomach strong.
6) Drinking watery liquids dilutes the strength of the digestives acids in our stomach which break down our food. Drinking water is a poor replacement for eating juicy and watery fresh foods, which hydrate our body much more completely and also help to keep the stomach strong and balanced due to the enzymes they contain. When we are thirsty, a juicy fruit will quench our body's thirst in a way that water cannot.
7) The stomach recharges and restores itself given the chance and night-time is the easiest time to do this. If there is food in our stomach when we fall asleep, it will not be digested properly and we will not rest fully. Going to bed having already digested our food means we will rest much more deeply and awaken feeling lighter, more clear-headed, and alert.
8)It is always best to avoid eating in a hurrybetter not to eat at all and take something for later on than to eat in a rush or eat when emotional. This is very important. Whatever mood we are in while we eat will be fed back to the cells of our body along with the food we are eating, and will continue to influence us for as long as that food stays in our system, which is usually several hours or more.
9) It always takes a minute for the stomach to recognize that it is has had enough even though our taste buds may still want more. Eating patiently while listening to the stomach's messages will make us more aware of what foods agree with us and will prevent us from overeating and feeling bloated or sick.
10) The fewer foods we combine in our stomach at the same time, the more quickly and comfortably the stomach will do its job.
11) Eating cold or hot foods actually causes the stomach to contract, and it has to bring all foods back to body temperature before proper digestion can occur. The more extreme the temperature, the more the stomach will contract, and the longer it will take for the stomach to return to a state of relaxation.
It is so important to remember that our digestive system is central to the healthy functioning of the entire human body, and if we treat it well it will serve us like we could never have imagined...