“All disease begins in the gut.” — Hippocrates, the father of medicine
It Starts In The Gut
Life and death begins in the gut. We have been told that “you are what you eat,” but that is actually not the case. We’re not what we eat, we’re what we absorb. We can be eating the healthiest diet in the world, but if we are not properly absorbing the nutrients from the foods we eat, none of it will matter. Likewise, someone can eat a horrible diet, but if their digestive system is working at 100 percent and they are absorbing the little nutrients from the foods they do eat, it will serve them well.
Now obviously everyone would be much better off eating healthier no matter if their digestion is perfect or if it’s suffering. Unfortunately, most people have poor digestion. This is especially true in those with acne. One study showed that those suffering with acne were more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, abdominal bloating and halitosis (bad breath).
Even when people have no digestive complaints, there is usually something wrong with their gut. The digestive system comes in contact with the outside world whenever we eat or drink anything. The lining of the gut is extremely thin and if we constantly mistreat it, it may eventually break and cause trouble in areas far removed from the gut wall.
The connection between the gut and the skin is a vital component in clearing the skin and living a healthier and happier life. Fixing the gut will not only help heal the skin, it will help with our mental health and well-being, help resolve inflammation and improve your life.
5 Ways To Help Your Digestion
- Chew Your Food
Digestion begins in the mouth when we chew. The premolars and molar teeth grind up carbohydrates like fruits, grains and vegetables and our canine teeth cut through meat. We all need to do more chewing. Most people hardly chew their food. Every mouthful should be chewed 30 to 50 times to absorb more nutrients and building blocks. Chewing also breaks down the food we eat into an easily digested mush called chyme that is much easier to digest than unchewed food.
Carbohydrate breakdown begins in the mouth with saliva. The acid in our stomach doesn’t break down carbohydrates as much as the alkaline enzymes in saliva and the alkaline enzymes produced by our pancreas. When we chew our food, we mix in the enzyme saliva amylase that breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. Saliva is an alkaline enzyme.
Because saliva plays such a large role in breaking down carbs, we must pay extra attention when eating carbohydrates to make sure that we chew our food at least 30 times (preferably more) to break them down and ease digestion. When we don’t properly chew our food, our digestive system needs to exert copious amounts of energy to digest it. This energy is taken away from other tasks such as detoxification. More importantly is that when our food isn’t chewed properly, it can linger in our guts and feed bacteria which can create dysbiosis in our guts. Dysbiosis is when the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in our guts is not in the proper ratio. It can also mean that certain bacteria travel up from the large intestine into the small intestine which is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO for short.
Chewing our food is the first step in having a properly functioning digestive system. If we don’t chew our food properly, it takes a longer time for the food to be digested. The longer something stays in our gut, the greater chance it has to create dysbiosis. Also, the longer food stays in our gut, the greater chance it has to ferment, go rancid, or go putrid. Make a conscious effort to chew your food thoroughly, especially carbohydrates. Try to wait to bring the next forkful of food to your mouth until you’ve swallowed your previous one.
Eat And Drink Juices, Smoothies And Soups
Juicing, making smoothies, drinking bone broth and having other forms of food provide massive amounts of nutrients in a liquid or semi-liquid form. Drinking vegetable juice frees up the energy that would have been used to digest the vegetables and provides more nutrients. Normally, we only absorb a small fraction of the available nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Juicing lets us absorb nearly all of the nutrients in the food. Smoothies and shakes made in blenders also break down the foods to help with absorption. Both juices and smoothies are excellent ways to get in a ton of nutrients.
Use Food Combining
Within the vegan community, there is a theory called food combining. I haven’t seen any actual science behind this theory, but it seems to help many people. The idea is that a problem can occur when we eat a lot of high protein foods and starchy carbohydrates together at the same time. The theory is that protein requires a highly acidic environment in the stomach to be broken down while carbohydrates require an alkaline environment, so the two “cancel each other out” and slows digestion. This leads to stagnation of food in our guts and may promote fermentation of our food.
Proteins also need to remain in the stomach for longer periods of time than carbohydrates. If we eat, for example, a steak and potato, the steak will force your stomach to release loads of HCl to digest it. The potato must wait until the stomach releases the contents into the small intestines so it can be broken down by more alkaline enzymes from the pancreas.
Since carbohydrates and protein need different environments to be broken down, eating too much of these foods in one meal is not a good idea according to the theory. When we eat proteins and starches together, the alkaline enzymes will compete with the acidic ones and they will neutralize each other. This will lead to stagnation in the digestive process and the food will linger in your gut for longer than it should. When food stays in the body for too long, it starts to rot. Carbohydrates ferment, proteins putrefy and fats go rancid. This process leads to toxicity in the body as the rotting foods release noxious gases. When we detoxify our bodies, a main concept is to extract the nutrients we need and get the food out of our bodies as fast as possible to avoid rotting food and toxicity. This is a big topic that’s discussed at length in the Clear Skin Nutrition book.
Don’t Eat When You’re Angry Or Emotional
This is a recipe for disaster. It can lead to binge eating and other disorders. When you feel emotionally charged, that’s the time to transfer that energy into physical movement. If that’s not an option, crying, shouting, or doing some emotional freedom technique are all healthy options. Eating, however, is not. Always turn to food for nutrients and nourishment. Always remember the motto “eat to live, don’t live to eat.” Living by this motto will help create a healthier relationship with food and a healthier body.
Drink More Water
This is something that we all know, but not a lot of us actually follow. Water encourages the regular passage of waste through your digestive system. Insufficient intake of fluid and water can often be a primary reason for constipation which promotes inflammation of the intestine. A great way to know how much water you’re drinking is to get a canteen and put 4 rubber bands around the bottom of it. Every Time you finish a bottle, move one rubber band to the top.
Bonus: Check For An Acid Deficiency
After food enters our mouths and is chewed thoroughly, it becomes a mushy mass called a bolus. The bolus travels from your mouth down through your esophagus and into your stomach where it can sit for hours, depending on the food. The stomach contains glands that secrete hydrochloric acid (HCl) to help digest protein. This acid is extremely acidic with a pH of around 2 and is used primarily to breakdown proteins. Cow, chicken, fish and other higher protein meals all do the majority of their digestion in the stomach through Hydrochloric acid (HCl) and enzymes. Low HCl is a very common problem in those with digestive issues and can cause lower nutrient absorption. If you find that protein and meat products don’t sit well with you, or you’ve been on proton-pump inhibitors or anti-acid drugs, you may have an HCl deficiency. One half of those who take ppis long-term have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Doing the HCl challenge where you eat a meal with plenty of protein and take 1 HCl supplement, then increase the dose with each protein rich meal until you reach a burning sensation, can be a way to see how much HCl you need. Once you feel a burning sensation, back down to the previous number of pills before you felt the burning. Within a few months your body should start to make more HCl on its own. It’s said that up to 40% of those with acne have low stomach acid, and that can set the stage for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and other digestive problems which can lead to skin problems. Doing the HCl challenge can be a good idea. It’s also smart to get stool testing such as the 401H from Biohealth labs and the G.I. Map from DSL to test for H. Pylori bacteria and other possible pathogens. H. Pylori can lead to ulcers in the stomach. If there are ulcers, than HCl might cause more damage because the protective mucus membrane lining the stomach isn’t there. You don’t want to use HCl if you have stomach ulcers.
For more info about how you can improve your digestion for clearer skin and better health, check out the Clear Nutrition book. And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to get all of the info you need to clear your skin!