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How to Eat For Optimal Health
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on May 31, 2003
One of the areas often overlooked when discussing principles of healthful living is HOW to eat food. In order to optimize one's health, it is important to examine and carefully plan how to eat. Why is one's approach to eating important? If one eats in a way that does not allow for complete digestion of foods, these undigested foods sit in the warm environment of the intestines where they rot and produce toxins. While some of these toxins leave the body as gas, some of them enter the bloodstream and cause damage to tissues and organs, contributing to the development of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. The following are steps that can be taken to promote optimal digestion:
1. Chew until liquid.
By chewing foods until liquid, two things are accomplished: Firstly, tremendous burden is taken off of the stomach and intestines, allowing for more energy to be available for healing, repair and maintenance of tissues and organs. Secondly, chewing foods until liquid allows powerful digestive enzymes in saliva to thoroughly mix with food, an essential first step for optimal digestion.
2. Minimize drinking water and other fluids while eating.
Drinking water and other fluids can cause dilution of stomach acids and digestive enzymes, making them less effective at breaking down food. Whenever possible, it is best to drink fluids before and two hours after meals. Reducing the amount of salt and spices added to foods is helpful in reducing the need to drink fluids with meals.
3. Avoid physical exertion following meals.
Approximately one-half of the body's entire blood supply is needed by the digestive organs following a meal. Physical exertion diverts blood away from our digestive organs, thereby reducing the efficiency of our digestive processes. Taking time to physically rest for approximately one hour following meals will allow for adequate blood supply to the digestive organs and optimal digestion.
4. Eat with a grateful heart.
Neurophysiologists have found that people who eat with a sense of gratitude for their food experience more efficient and complete digestion than those who eat while distracted by an external entity like t.v. or a conversation partner. Thinking about and being thankful for food increases gastrointestinal motility and digestive enzyme and acid production. In order to consistently be grateful for our food, perhaps it is helpful to remember that this year alone, 63 million people in our world will starve to death. With a child dying of starvation in this world every two seconds, it goes without saying that there is much to be grateful for when one is able to eat a wholesome meal. Eating with a grateful heart doesn't refer to saying grace for 10 seconds before one's meal and then eating while reading a magazine or having a heated discussion with a companion. It means being grateful for our food one mouthful at a time.
If the above four recommendations are incorporated into your approach to eating, you will invariably experience less stomach pain and discomfort, gas, burping, and other digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea. In the event that these recommendations are followed and you continue to experience digestive problems, it is necessary to evaluate the appropriateness of your specific food choices. Consistently choosing to eat foods that cause digestive problems despite application of the four principles discussed above is a sure recipe for the development of chronic diseases.
In making our food choices and considering our approach to eating, perhaps it is helpful to remember the words of Gandhi: "True taste is in the heart, not on the tongue."
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