The old catch phrase of “you are what you eat” is no longer as relevant as it once was. We humans are fickle creatures and no matter how healthy our diet is, if we can’t break down and ABSORB the nutrients in our meals, we may as well be eating cardboard!
Well not quite that dramatic but you get the picture? Digestion is a complex affair and there are many things that can hinder this process.
Inflammation: Modern life is an inflammatory life and we tend to push our bodies to their limits whether we know it or not. Processed foods, alcohol, medication, chemicals in our environment, pathogens, allergies and intolerances, sugar, and the list goes on, all contribute to inflammation in the digestive tract. When the lining of our digestive tract is inflamed, nutrients cannot cross through and be absorbed by our blood stream for use by the organs and cells that need them.
Digestive Enzymes: Enzymes are beautiful little chemicals within our body that enable certain processes to take place. In terms of digestion we need these molecules to help break down nutrients in the food that we consume into smaller parts so that our cells can utilise them. If we have insufficient enzymes, these important nutrients will pass straight through our digestive tract unused, meaning that we are limiting the benefits from our food
Low HCl: Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a fluid produced in our stomach that aids in activating enzymes and breaking down our food. When our body is functioning optimally, our stomach starts to excrete HCl during the very initial stages of digestion when we first smell or taste our food to get ready for the digestive process. There are many causes for low HCl like overconsumption of alcohol, certain medications, infections and aging which can have many knock on effects for absorbing nutrients.
Poor Intake: Sometimes we think we are eating well but in reality we are perhaps focussing too much on certain food groups or nutrients and forgetting others, getting a lack of variety by eating the same meals over and over again, or just not balancing our meals with enough nutrient dense options. Try to eat a rainbow!