Late fall is the time of year when we come together with our friends and family to enjoy what we have harvested from Mother Earth. She provides many starchy vegetables that have a healing effect on our digestive tract’s walls, and are common holiday dishes, such as mashed potatoes, yams, and beets. Even a common dessert, pumpkin pie, is a starchy vegetable!
Starchy vegetables not only soothe and heal our gut wall, but they are also food for our microbiome! Their density takes longer to break down and therefore stays intact until they reach the lower gut, where they are food for our internal ecosystem. When bacteria break down these sugars or ferment them, they create gas as a byproduct. Dense carbs like starchy vegetables are already filling, but it is easy to feel even fuller with gas accumulation!
I want to share a few hacks to help you enjoy these medicinal foods while reducing their negative effects.
Take a few deep breaths before you start eating. This will engage your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), increasing your digestive efficiency. Also, thoroughly chew your food before swallowing to increase its breakdown.
OPTIMIZE YOUR DIGESTIVE STRENGTH
Chewing also tells your pancreas to release digestive enzymes to break down your food and optimize absorption. Pancreatic insufficiency is, unfortunately, a common deficiency of the pancreas, causing an inadequate release of digestive enzymes. In the short term, you can hack this by taking digestive enzymes right before eating.
Chewing also queues your gallbladder to release the bile necessary to emulsify your fats. If you feel that you have difficulty with fats, using digestive bitters right before meals can support fat assimilation and absorption. Common symptoms include nausea, deep right shoulder pain, and oily, or lighter-colored stools.
If you suspect you are not processing and absorbing your fats well, or if you have a poor appetite, avoid red meat because you don’t feel like you process it well and/or often see undigested food in your stools, your gallbladder or pancreas may not be working optimally. You may explore these with a Comprehensive Stool Analysis, like the GI Map, which Dr. Mulcahy may order during an Integrative Consultation. Contact us at Boost to schedule a session.
Whether you are intentionally planning to eat gluten or worried you might have an exposure, GlutenFlam, and Wheat Rescue are digestive aids to reduce your reactivity to it. Gluten sensitivity testing – Cyrex Labs Array 3X – may be ordered with Dr. Mulcahy. The GI Map also provides insight into whether or not gluten is a concern for you.
AFTER DINNER WALK
Now that you are satiated, and your microbiome is fed, go for a walk! Not only are you increasing your metabolic activity, which will help you digest optimally, but you will also stimulate an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). Increasing LPL activity increases energy expenditure by 2.5-fold when compared to sitting. Decreased LPL activity is associated with higher triglycerides, lower levels of HDL, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
I hope these simple hacks help you enjoy your nourishing food and company! Happy Holidays!