Your digestive health is vital.
February 12, 2020 By Billy
Giving 10 minutes to learn how to optimize your digestive health will be a brilliant investment for your energy, protection from parasites, and longevity….
…after all, your diet greatly affects your digestive health, a vital pillar of your well-being. Your digestive system plays two critical roles: it extracts nutrition from the foods you eat and it eliminates toxins from the body. When the digestive system is strong, it does an outstanding job in both roles. When it’s com- promised by poor diet, it does a poor job. Your diet, indeed your lifestyle, amplifies, for good or for bad, your digestive system’s performance.
In fact, because of the dual-role nature of the digestive system, a poor diet actually compounds the problem of poor nutrition. You’re not taking in quality nutritive foods in the first place, and the nutrients you are taking in aren’t being properly extracted for the body’s use because of the weakened digestive system. It’s an unhealthy spiral.
The good news is digestive health isn’t very complicated. It all comes down to what we’ve learned thus far. For optimal health, your body needs more plant foods—fruits and vegetables, along with unprocessed whole grains and healthy fats. Additionally, it requires some elimination—like cutting out processed sugar, flour, and cheap animal protein. Without fiber from plant foods,
everything slows down. We’ve talked about how weakening flour can be, a significant fiber-less ingredient in so many diets. Rumor has it that the average American gets half of his or her calories from flour and sugar! Scary, isn’t it? Animal protein, as mentioned above, another major ingredient in the typical diet, doesn’t do your digestive system any favors either. If meat and/or dairy are regular parts of your diet, take breaks from them every now and then. Give your digestive system a chance to recuperate and strengthen itself. That said, there are a few more details about diet and the digestive system that you should become familiar with.
What and How You Eat
It’s probably not surprising that some of the best foods for your gastrointestinal system are foods that are easy to digest. The hard- to-digest foods we’ve identified (especially animal protein and flour) can have a tendency to accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, slowing things down, allowing toxins more opportunity to be absorbed through the intestines back into the body. This also interferes with the body’s ability to soak up beneficial nutrients.
What may be surprising, however, is that some raw vegetables aren’t always easy to digest either. While raw veggies aren’t foods that accumulate in the gastrointestinal system, they can make it work hard. Remember in Chapter 6 we talked about the presence of cellulose in the coarser, more rigid vegetables (like kale, chard, collard greens, and broccoli), that makes them harder to digest when raw versus when cooked. Strike a balance by mixing it up. Also remember my philosophy about tossing these greens into the blender! Raw, easy to digest, and chlorophyll—score! Give my kale sauce a try! It’s a favorite of many.
Cooked or not, it’s important to chew your food thoroughly. Ever notice how fast many people eat these days? Much of the world is in a hurry. But chewing is Phase One of digestion, and it’s super important. There are digestive enzymes in your saliva that begin breaking down food before it’s even swallowed. Take your time when you eat. You’ll get more taste out of your food and you’llmake things a lot easier on your digestive system.
Your Internal Chemistry
One especially unappealing consequence of a poor diet is internal parasites. These are more common than we like to believe. We all have them, to some degree. The most common is a yeast fungus called candida which thrives on processed sugar and flour. Alcohol, too. Candida weakens the walls of the intestines, often creating food sensitivities. Along with removing the foods that candida thrives on, I recommend doing battle against candida from time to time with foods and herbs that are known to kill it. Raw garlic is a classic one. To be effective however, it has to be truly raw, unheated garlic. Chewing raw garlic can be a painful for the tongue (not to mention can have socially unfashionable effects). Dicing it up very finely to be washed down with a glass of water will spare you from having to chew it. Parasites hate raw garlic. And there’s a whole host of similar parasite fighting superfoods and herbs that can be found in the supplement section of any store. Do your research to find what antiparasitics are best for you. The good news is, once strong and balanced, your digestive system can keep candida and other para- sites at bay. Remember that a digestive system in a weakened state leads to an unhealthy internal chemistry which, in turn, weakens the whole body. It weakens your very life force. And consider this – the digestive tract is where the majority of serotonin is created in the body. Serotonin is what has a direct impact on our mood. That alone is reason enough to maintain a healthy digestive system. It’s worth stating again: digestive health is a pillar of overall health.
Poor diets cause poor internal chemistry because of the lack of nutrition (obviously), but also because of the typical components of the common diet; namely, sugar, flour, and lack of fiber. Fiber, of course, helps move things along in your system, thus making it more difficult for parasites, or any toxic material for that matter, to stick around. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insolu- ble. Soluble (typically from plant foods) breaks down, dissolving in your system. Insoluble (typically from grains), doesn’t digest. (One exception is oats, which are a great soluble fiber.) Insoluble fiber still plays an important role, though, because it adds bulk to your food, helping satisfy your appetite with fewer calories. But iron- ically, too much insoluble fiber can be constipating. Soluble fiber plays the more important role, keeping things moving through the gastrointestinal tract. Flax and chia seeds are an amazing source of soluble fiber, superior alternatives to other fiber supplements like psyllium husk. Both of these seeds lubricate the gastrointestinal system perfectly. Either grind them up in a blender or soak them in water for maximum effect. I often mix a round tablespoon of ground flax seeds into a salad. Sprouted, raw flaxseed crackers are a great product, but the less adulterated products are always better. Also, try soaking your other nuts and seeds in water overnight. When nuts, like almonds for example, are soaked they actually release natural preservatives. These preservatives are what protect nuts in nature, giving them a chance to sprout and grow before they are broken down by bacteria and insects. This is why soaking nuts and seeds will make a big difference in the digestibility. Or shop for nuts and seeds that have already been soaked and dehydrated, commonly referred to as “sprouted.” This adds a nice crispness that makes them a really delicious food.
Cleaning Your System
Speaking of taking breaks from poor nutritional habits, many people do cleanses from time to time. Some people will fast for days and even longer as a way to detox, although some do it for spiritual reasons, too. The idea is to cleanse the body of toxins that have built up, especially in the colon. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate a heroic detoxifying cleanse for everyone, but I wouldn’t stop you, either. It’s fascinating how the body will truly cleanse itself if it’s allowed the chance to do so.
One way to do a cleanse is by utilizing a liquid diet exclusively. Juicing fresh fruit and veggies (not pre-bottled products) can be good for such a cleanse, but I’m a bigger fan of smoothies, the advantage being that you’re getting the whole food including thecleansing soluble fiber that comes with it. It’s true that juicing gives the digestive system a break while still providing the nutrients, but so does blended food, especially if you’re using a high-power blender which really breaks things down. A quality blender can be money well spent.
Many people will undergo periodic colon irrigation, adminis- tered by colonic hygienists. An enema is a lighter-version colonic that can be self-administered. Another option for flushing the system out, top to bottom, is a non-invasive technique called Shatkarma that goes all the way back to the ancient health prac- tices of Ayurveda. Essentially, this entails drinking a liter of salt water that you can mix yourself with non-iodized sea salt and purified water to make it comparable to ocean water. This is an extremely effective cleanse. The body can’t absorb salt water, so it travels through the intestines, top to bottom. Just make sure you have a bathroom handy for the next couple hours as you’ll have at least a few substantial bowel movements. This is something that I did for years, and I think it’s great. (Note: this is the only reason you would ever drink salt water since salt water is dehydrating, but there’s no harm in drinking a liter for the sake of bowel cleansing.) Search online for the how-to’s. It’s a well-known practice.
For a digestive system that’s slow to the point of constipation, you might be thinking about laxatives. I don’t recommend using them except for rare occasions since, over time, your system can become dependent on them. If and when you really need it, I’d suggest senna, which is a natural (herbal) laxative. Aloe latex is a stronger natural option. Fasts, colonics, Shatkarma flushes—these can all be effective. But more to the point, I’d simply recommend a diet that is cleansing in general. Even just a few days after removing meat, too many dairy products, sugar, and foods with flour, you’ll likely be able to sense toxic funk leaving your body. Not to say that it’s necessarily going to feel good. For a few days you may feel a sensation of a hangover since an increased volume of toxins is moving through the bloodstream to be excreted through the gastro-system. Chlorophyll from green food, nature’s purifier of blood, is an important ally here. After a cleanse such as this, you might just decide to leave the less-than-healthy things out of your diet all the time, naturally gravitating towards the healthy—cleansing—foods.
Strengthening Your System
Besides a cleansing diet, a major way to strengthen your internal chemistry is with healthy bacteria. Unhealthy intestinal bacteria have become a common theme with the prevalence of modern junk foods. The right kind of bacteria supports digestion among other things in the body. When healthy bacteria settle in, they also become defenders, greatly enhancing your immune system. We can get healthy bacteria in raw, fermented foods like sauerkraut. A source becoming very popular these days is kombucha tea, afizzy, fermented beverage. It’s a tasty drink that’s actually been around since ancient times. Probiotic supplements can play a major role, too. These include bacterial blends of acidophilus, bifidus, and lactobacillus. Before the days of probiotic supplements we got our healthy intestinal bacteria from the dirt caked on raw veggies coming from right out of the garden. This is still possible if you have your own garden but not from the produce at your local store since the probiotic-rich dirt has already been rinsed off.
The microorganisms that inhabit your digestive tract—your intestinal flora—heavily influence your digestive health. How do you know if your intestinal flora is healthy? The most accurate gauge is your bowel movements. Fiber, coupled with a predominance of healthy bacteria, give bulk. A healthy bowel movement is sizable and, well, there’s just no other way to say it, satisfying.
And while we’re on the subject of bowel movements, you should be having at least one a day. Regular bowel movements are import- ant for making sure that toxins don’t linger in the intestines too long for the reasons I mentioned. A good diet aids this regularity. For enhanced gastro-mobility, keep in mind that effective and common intestinal lubricants include coconut oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, papaya, and prunes. And here’s a little-known cause of constipa- tion: our Western-designed toilets. They’re too tall! Sitting up high shortens the colon into a position that is less than ideal for things to move along. Bringing your feet up, even just a few inches, puts your body in more of a squat position which solves this problem. Get creative and put something under your feet, making way for things to more easily travel their course. It will make a difference.
Other ways to strengthen your digestive system include enzymes, which are important for breaking foods down for proper digestion. Where do you find these? Raw fruits and veggies. Enzyme sup- plements can be useful but aren’t for everyone due to their blood thinning effect. Ginger is also helpful for digestion by ramping the up the spleen which strengthens your digestive fire.
Naturally, water also plays a role in digestive health. We’ll talk in the next chapter about hydration. For now, suffice it to say that many of us are walking around slightly dehydrated most of the time. It’s no coincidence that many of us are also walking around slightly constipated most of the time, too. Drink water! Ideally, do the majority of hydrating through the day and less with meals. Hydrating duringmeals does slightly dilute your digestive enzymes. At the very least, try to avoid cold drinks with food. While cold drinks during meal-time is a common theme, they do in fact dampen your digestion.
Exercise is another factor. Regular exercise keeps thing moving, helping you stay regular. It also helps build your core strength which is important in maintaining your internal structure. One of the lesser-known consequences of obesity is that the internal organs have a tendency to not sit quite right, often getting squeezed and scrunched by the fat that’s built up around them. There’s simply less room in the gut resulting in a slowing-down of the food moving through the intestines.
Did you know your digestive health can be reflected in your breath? While the majority of toxins that enter our bodies are excreted by the digestive system, some are eliminated via exhalation. When you stop and think about it, the mouth is a part of the digestive system! Bad breath can be a symptom of poor digestive health, reflecting an unhealthy internal chemistry.
You don’t need me to tell you to brush your teeth. But here’s something you might want to think about: toxins that are eliminated by exhalation have a tendency to congregate on your tongue, mostly on the back of the tongue where it goes unnoticed. That’s right. Metabolic waste and unhealthy bacteria get stuck there. This accumulation normally presents itself as a mild white film. In front of a mirror stick your tongue out as far as you can. Do you see it? Yup, it’s toxins accumulating on your tongue—yuck! This creates two problems. It causes bad breath, and it allows the toxins to re-circulate through the body as you end up swallowing them back down as the food you eat scrapes it off as you swallow.
Though this may sound like a minor issue, it really is deserving of our attention. A small amount of toxins may not sound like a big deal, but a lifetime of small amounts of toxins being re-circulated through the body every day will definitely add up, potentially to be reflected somewhere down the road. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. A simple tongue brush/scraper. I recommend the GUM brand. One side is a brush specially designed to brush the tongue and the other side is a scraper for scraping off the stuff you’ve brushed loose. A regular toothbrush won’t do it. The bristles of a tongue brush are much coarser. Thirty seconds a day is all it takes,preferably first thing in the morning since the toxins and bacteria build up mostly overnight. Do it, and it’ll help maintain a healthy internal chemistry, as well as clean breath.
Bad breath is one of those taboo subjects. Nobody will tell you when you have it. After scraping your tongue, smell your tonguebrush and tell me you’re not surprised. Using a tongue brush might be new to you and so it might require some practice to get the hang of it. Like I mentioned, the majority of the toxic material is toward the back of the tongue where it’s hard to see, and reach. Getting back there with your brush may not be the most pleasant sensation at first, but it’s something you’ll quickly get used to. Take it slow. There’s no need to make yourself gag or brush so hard that your tongue bleeds.
The tongue scraper on the other side of the brush is equally important to scrape off the funk that has been loosened by brushing. Tongue scrapers are available without the brush on the other side, but the brush and scraper together are far more effective. Do this daily, and soon enough you’ll get used to it to the point where your mouth won’t feel quite right if you skip it. The rare occasion I don’t brush my tongue I notice a slightly unpleasant taste all day. After you’ve experienced this contrast yourself, I promise you’ll wonder how we all didn’t catch on to this sooner! And, by the way, what it might just do for your love-life could be awesome. Please take my advice and brush your tongue.
A note about mouthwash. The irony is hilarious. The alcohol in mouthwash actually wipes out the healthy bacteria in your mouth, essentially making way for the unhealthy bacteria to dominate the scene. At best, mouthwash temporarily covers up the smell, only so that it can come back later with a vengeance. Breath mints and gum are similar disasters. Unhealthy bacteria thrive on sugar, as well as the xylitol in sugar-free gum. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the many people walking around chewing gum cheerily thinking their breath smells better when in fact they’re making it worse.
The importance of a healthy gastrointestinal system cannot be emphasized enough. It’s a pillar of your health and an accurate indicator of it, too. But proper digestive health doesn’t require rocket science. Eat the right foods at the right times. Cut out sugar,flour, cheap animal protein, low-grade oils, and slow-to-digest foods. Get plenty of soluble fiber. And that’s all there is to it. Simple. The best part? Within no time, you’ll find that your digestive system is getting stronger, and reflected by everything else in your body getting stronger, too. Give the protocols we’ve covered a “go” for one month and I can assure that you’ll find the impact anything but subtle.
Congrats for reading this information that will, no doubt, make a substantial difference in your health.
Like I mentioned, Infinity Greens is an incomparable ally when it comes to this vitally important part of your health. For receiving optimal benefit from Infinity Greens, consistency is key, though. Need a recipe that tastes extraordinary to enjoy taking Infinity Greens daily? Well, here you go.
As you may know, over the last 18 years, the Infinity Superfoods have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and my wish is for you to be included. If you’ve had the opportunity to experience the guaranteed benefits of the Infinity superfoods and health information that I have to share in my book, Infinity Health Manual, then pass this message along to your friends and family, or even better, give them some Infinity products so they can experience what they’re all about. Naturally they will receive the same awesome benefits.
Yours truly, and at your service always,
Billy Merritt and the Infinity Team