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Things You Should Know About Indigestion & Gas
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Aug 20, 2004
A favorite staple in the Korean diet is a soup called den jang gook. For those of you who aren’t familiar with den jang gook, it is Korea’s version of miso soup, made out of fermented soy beans. During their first year or two of marriage, Korean women like to joke about their husbands' gas from indigestion smelling like den jang gook. In other words, they are crazy in love.
I’m all for being crazy in love, but I’m determined to tell as many people as I can that indigestion is no joking matter. In fact, if you pass gas on a regular basis, I can virtually guarantee that you could be experiencing much greater health than you are right now.
Some of us seem to think that we can be healthy simply by eating healthy foods. The truth is, your health is determined by how well you digest the foods that you put into your body. In other words, you might be eating an unprocessed, whole food diet, but if your digestive passageway isn’t effectively breaking these foods down and absorbing nutrients, you are not giving yourself a chance to come close to your best health.
What does this have to do with passing gas? The amount of gas that you pass is one of the best indicators of how well you are digesting your food. Producing gas is in part due to rotting of incompletely digested foods in your digestive passageway. Passing gas in itself is actually helpful to your health, as it represents potential toxins leaving your body. In fact, when you have the urge to pass gas, it is best to do so without waiting. The point is, if you are farting a lot, then you probably have a lot of toxin formation occurring inside your gut from rotting of incompletely digested food, and some of these toxins are entering your bloodstream and contributing to the development of long term disease. Please note that I am referring to gas that can make your family and friends yelp. Farts that do not produce objectionable odor are usually pockets of air that you have swallowed.
Enough about farting. What can you do to improve your digestion and prevent toxin formation from rotting of undigested food in your gut?
- Chew your food until liquid. You don’t have teeth anywhere else in your digestive passageway. By chewing your food until liquid, you allow your digestive organs to do their jobs efficiently without the burden of having to break down larger chunks of food. If you don’t remember anything else from this newsletter, please remember this one point. It can make a huge difference in your level of health.
- Consistently eat whole, unprocessed foods. An apple is better than apple juice. A bowl of oatmeal is better than a power bar. An organic egg is better than any egg substitute. And organic butter is much better than margarine. The closer your foods look like they can be found in a garden, in the wild, or on an organic farm, the greater chance your body has of efficiently digesting them.
- Avoid foods that experience tells you no matter how well you chew, your body just says no. Based on your genetics and health status, there are foods that your body will digest beautifully, and there are foods that your body simply cannot break down. It’s your job to observe how you feel after each meal to identify these foods. It is important to note that as your health changes over time, your tolerance for different foods may also change, so you don’t need to write off a particular food forever if it isn’t working for you right now.
- Don’t eat fruit for dessert. Fruits are extremely low in protein compared to all other foods, including vegetables. And all foods that have significant protein must spend about an hour to an hour and a half in your stomach, where the protein is broken down by acid produced by your stomach. If fruit gets caught up in your stomach because there are other foods churning there already, it is possible that some of the fruit will rot, resulting in gas and toxin formation. Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach, or about two hours after a big meal.
- Take it easy for at least 30 minutes after a big meal. In order for your digestive organs to effectively break down food, they need to receive a large portion of your total blood volume after a big meal. If most of your blood is flowing to your muscles because you are running around, you’re not going to have enough available for your digestive organs to do good work.
Use the amount of gas that you pas as a marker for your digestive strength and the health of your gut. By following the steps outlined above, you should see a dramatic reduction in gas production.
It is important to note that if you are currently eating a lot of processed foods and want to make the jump to whole, unprocessed foods, doing so may cause a lot of indigestion in the beginning. This is due to your intestines and the trillions of bacteria that live in them getting used to a new selection of foods. For many people, it can take about a month to adapt to a whole food diet.
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