You Are NOT What You Eat: Why Digestion Matters

“You are what you eat.” We’ve all heard it. And it is, generally, good healthful advice. The problem is that it’s not quite true. What you eat (ingest) is simply the beginning of the story. Let’s talk nutrition. Nutrition, by definition, is a six-phase process. The phases are: ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation, and excretion. If we assume the first phase of nutrition is the only phase, we are sorely mistaken and our health may suffer for it. 1) Ingestion – what you eat or consume. This is often mistaken as the entire field of “Nutrition” (i.e. “eat this and you will be healthy”). One of the best things about this phase is that it is controlled by your choices. You control what you eat (or what your children eat) so you have the power to decide what the building blocks for the rest of the nutritional process will be. 2) Digestion – the mechanical and chemical breakdown of what you eat. This is where the magic happens. Digestion begins in the mouth (with your teeth and enzyme-containing saliva) and continues in the stomach and small intestine. Some important supportive roles are played by the liver & gallbladder (bile production and release) as well as the pancreas (your enzyme powerhouse). We’ll talk more about digestion in another post – stay tuned! 3) Absorption – broken-down food molecules pass through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. For our purposes, let’s simplify the anatomy and envision the gastro-intestinal tract as as one long tube – from mouth to anus. This tube has a protective barrier (the gut wall) separating the GI tract and food particles from the “inside” of the...

10 (Free) Health Hacks to Jumpstart the New Year

Ah, the new year. A fresh start. There’s almost nothing better than feeling like you can begin again (except realizing that EVERY day is the perfect day to “start over”). Many new years resolutions, mine included, involve creating healthier habits – eating better, cutting out crappy, chemical-laden food, loving yourself and your body. So here are a few simple healthy hacks that have a big pay-off for creating and sticking to healthy habits year-round. 1. Drink water. Drink a full glass first thing in the morning. Drink a full glass while you’re prepping (or about 30 minutes) before each meal. Drink water between meals. Just drink water. Your body will thank you for it. 2. Eat something green in at least one meal each day. No exceptions. 3. Eat “fresh first.” Eat the freshest, rawest part of your meal first. Salad, veggies, fruit, whatever you’ve got. 4. Stretch in the morning. Even if it’s just 30 seconds – move your body. Wake it up. Connect with your physical being. If stretching isn’t your thing, do a few core stability exercises or lunge your way to the bathroom to brush your teeth. 5. Set your intention. Every morning, take a few seconds to set yourself up for success. Think through your goals for the day, including your health goals. Better yet, put pen to paper or say your daily intentions out loud. This helps you to be mindful throughout the day of what you really want to accomplish. You and your body deserve a (top) spot on your daily to-do list. 6. Stop saying “I can’t.” No more: “I can’t...