You are what you absorb

You are what you absorb

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. Or even more accurately ‘you are what you digest’ but I like to take it a step further because in actual fact, you are what you ABSORB.

Those vitamins and minerals in your diet are no good to you until they’ve passed through the gut lining into your blood stream. What you absorb depends on a healthy digestive tract and good digestive processes.
Bloating, constipation, diarhoea, reflux, heart burn and nausea? That’s your body sending you a message. Don’t ignore it!

Factors affecting healthy digestion, and therefore absorption of nutrients:

  • A course of antibiotics – Antibiotics are broad spectrum bacteria killers. Great for that infection but they also wipe out your beneficial gut bacteria.
  • A sustained period of poor nutrition/diet – Even I can’t profess to a perfect diet all the time! But if it’s been a few months since you saw a green leafy vegetable you may have some damage control to do!
  • The oral contraceptive pill – the pill has been shown to disrupt the delicate balance of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ micro-organisms in the bowel.
  • Prolonged stress – high adrenalin and cortisol shunts blood away from our digestive tract often leaving our digestion less than optimal.
  • Food intolerances – we often don’t digest the foods we’re intolerant to, meaning we also miss out on their vitamins and minerals.
  • Having had your gallbladder removed – this reduces the breakdown of fat and therefore the accessibility of our fat soluble vitamins E, A, K, D. You may need to think about supplementation.

So what can you do?

  • A good place to start is removing any offending foods. Just for a trial period! All the usual suspects I’m afraid: coffee, sugar, gluten, dairy. See how you feel without them for a couple of weeks. Super strict for that trial time. Then re-introduce one at a time (4 days of each food, on it’s own, then move onto the next). This alone can be life changing for some people. Remember to keep a detailed food dairy while doing this.
  • Secondly think about addressing your digestive flora. The good bugs in your gut help digest food, activate digestive enzymes and make some of our crucial vitamins. Did you know that you have more bacteria in your digestive tract than you have cells in your body?! Or that your stool is made up of 50% bacteria? It’s a huge population that needs constant replenishing and nurturing to remain healthy and working in your favour. Lot’s of fibrous veggies, some fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi is a good place to start. And a lot of us would also benefit from a course of a strong probiotic, particularly if you take the pill or have had a course of antibiotics.
  • Lastly, try chewing your food at least 20 times before you swallow! Yes, 20. This is because digestion actually starts in the mouth. We have an abundance of digestive enzymes in our saliva that when mixed with food helps to break it down. The more we chew the more we make of these enzymes. The stomach gets all the credit but in actual fact, if you do it right, your mouth plays a big part in healthy digestion too.

Good digestion really is the foundation of good health. When you have great digestion the healthy ripple effects are exponential and the sooner you will feel your healthiest and happiest self.

By Annaliese Jones

Annaliese Jones has an Auckland based clinic where she’s worked with thousands of individuals over the last 14 years helping them gain back their health. “My mission is to inspire my clients and community to reach their personal health potential. Without health it’s hard to be happy! I don’t believe in fad diets or deprivation. But over the years I’ve come to believe we all have the potential to be healthy and happy when we treat our bodies wit the respect they deserve.”

With a Bachelor of Health Science and Advanced double diplomas in Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine, Annaliese brings both science based medicine and traditional healing knowledge together. The best of both worlds!

Check out Annaliese’s website

Nadia Lim

Nadia Lim

To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.


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