Contrary to popular belief, you aren't what you eat...
If you eat a so-called perfect dietary trifecta of kale, nuts and quinoa with hopes of becoming a green goddess, good luck.
Just because you eat these healthy foods, it does not mean that you are as healthy as the nutrient-profile packed deep inside kale and quinoa! Chances are your nutrition is in far, far worse shape than you think.
Truth be told this very principle screws up a ton of people, and it actually sends their heath into the opposite direction -- the gutter.
Why I'm talking to YOU
If you're reading this blog, you probably have the desire to eat healthier.
Your motivation might come from having poor health, being overweight, or from experiencing a devastating health crisis either yourself or of someone close to you. Under any of these circumstances, your digestive health and metabolism usually suffer to some degree, which decreases the amount of energy that your body designates to digesting your food.
In reality, this means less hydrochloric acid in the stomach to efficiently break down your food, less digestive enzymes in the small intestines to break down carbohydrates, less bile (or sluggish bile) to emulsify your fats for absorption and to keep your microbiome in tip top shape.
Without proper digestion, you can't have good health, no matter what you are eating.
Why is that? Because if your digestion is inadequate — so is your nutrition, and the integrity of each cell, tissue, and organ in your body will suffer.
Let me illustrate exactly why...
You aren't what you eat. You're what your body is capable of digesting and detoxifying
Imagine for a minute you have an infant son. He's 9 months old and discovering the wonderful world of real food. Would you feed him raw kale, nuts/seeds, flax, and quinoa?
If you have ever been a parent or have watched young children the answer is -- probably not. Because you know how that diaper would turn out. These foods are just far too difficult for small children (and many adults for that matter) to digest. It's a much better choice to feed your infant son nutrient dense foods that is highly digestible and low in plant toxins. Not difficult to break down like...
- Ripened fruit
- Cooked and/or puréed tubers
- Cooked and/or puréed squashes
- Cooked and/or puréed root vegetables
- Traditional fats (such as butter, eggs, animal fats)
- Breast milk
- Clean cheeses, yogurt, and other dairy products (if tolerated and not getting vitamin A excess)
- Easy to digest proteins - eggs, fish, dairy products (if tolerated), and muscle meats
- Sourdough bread, whole grains and legumes (if tolerated)
This list should not just be for small children. Indeed, most people should be eating highly digestible and nutrient-dense food 90% of the time.
Why? Digestion weakens due to age, nutritional deficiencies and chronic stress (this pretty much includes everyone). Additionally, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by a digestive disease! That is a pretty big number and it does not take into account all of those who are suffering with the all-too-common symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea on the regular that they attribute as normal digestion.
Logical approach to eating
What kind of foods are counterproductive to digestion? This highly depends on the person and their digestive environment, but there are a few categories that deserve special attention in today's world. Just because you can put a food in your mouth does not mean you were intended to eat it or that it is going to support good health.
Example #1: Nuts/seeds
Foods like nuts and seeds are very hard to break down and that makes it difficult to reap the nutrition inside them. This is why nuts are commonly found undigested in your stool.
Nuts are also high in polyunsaturated fats, which can inhibit digestion at high dosages (exactly the opposite of what you want to do)!
Some nuts, like almonds are high in dietary oxalates, which can become problematic when eaten in excess.
Solution: use nuts/seeds occasionally or as a garnish. Not as a mainstay of your diet. Eating nuts in excess can contribute to zinc:copper imbalances (copper toxicity), oxalate overload, and impair digestion.
Example #2: Kale, chard and spinach (and other raw greens)
Raw leafy greens are incredibly problematic, especially when your digestion is fragile. Salads and raw leafy greens are increasingly popular for their health touted benefits but were you really meant to eat them?
While cows eat grass, their stomach also has four compartments (rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum) to support such digestion. This is the same with other ruminant animals, like sheep and goats that allows them to eat very tough plant matter.
Humans on the other hand do not have such digestive support. Cellulose, the primary carbohydrate in plants where in which the nutrients are locked away, is incredibly hard to break down in the human digestive system. With that in mind—is it really working for your body? Your body should not have to work hard to get nutrients from your food. If it does, you're doing your body a huge disservice.
Furthermore, spinach and their other dark leafy counterparts could be subject to toxicity due to the high amount of dietary oxalates they contain (think pain and kidney stone risk).
Solution: choose lightly colored greens, juice your greens or cook them a majority of the time (cooking breaks down the indigestible cell wall), and eat them in moderation. Also supplement carefully.
Anytime you eat food that exceeds your body’s ability to digest, those foods end up working against you. Most people have enough working against them in life - not enough sleep, stress, and crazy schedules. Food should not be one of them.
If you gleaned anything valuable from this article, it should be to pay attention and listen to your body. If you're seeing undigested foods in your stool (or digestive reactions of any kind), it's a clear sign that your body is having a hard time breaking it down correctly. If you're not digesting it properly, then you're not getting the nutrition, and there are much better things you should be eating to take your nutrition to the next level.
Knowledge on your own body is power!
Are you what you eat or not so much? Please share in the comments!
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com/kaisorn4