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Body Basics: How the digestive tract functions
Podcast show notes for Episode 7, Body Basics: How the digestive tract functions
I want to preface this episode with, “I’m not a doctor.” I’m a certified holistic health and wellness coach which means I’m here to help you work through accessing your bio-individuality and giving you practical advice to incorporate into your life to improve your wellbeing.
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, I was so overwhelmed and felt like my body was attacking me. I felt so removed from myself I blamed my body for what I was going through. I thought things like, “I just want someone to make this stop,” and “Why me.”
What I came to learn quickly was that I am in control of my body. My body is my responsibility, and I hadn’t taken good care of it. The worst part was that I knew I wasn’t properly nourishing myself and still made poor choices that led to my diagnosis. And while there were factors, like uninformed consent of taking birth control when I was 16 for period “management” – in quotes – there’s definitely more I could’ve done to do my research and with age I’ve learned to do just that.
But this isn’t about shaming ourselves for not doing enough, this is about what I did to start gently changing my mindset and loving and supporting my body with forgiveness and compassion.
It all started with learning how my body and digestive tract works.
Opt 3: Listener Support
When we’re in elementary school, we get a basic overview of how the body works, but in my opinion, it’s very outdated and a zoomed out perspective. It doesn’t take into account bio-individuality. Something that should’ve been said is, “When symptoms pop up, it’s easy to feel like there might be a bigger or more complex issue going on or you’re broken and can’t heal.
The first step in healing is acknowledging that nothing is inherently wrong with you. You are whole exactly as you are. From a place of confidence in your body’s ability to heal itself, you can get curious about what’s going on for you and tap into the endless toolbox that is the areas of life.
Embodying the mind-set that you are healthy now and you can become even healthier takes a huge weight off your shoulders and allows your body to naturally reach health.
I feel like this would’ve been a lot more empowering than the shaming a lot of 8th grade health class presentations utilized.
So how does the digestive tract work? This is going to be a super basic overview, but close your eyes if you can and visualize your own body. When we eat, our mouth is the beginning of our digestive system. Our saliva starts the breakdown of food for it to be assimilated into our body and nutrients broken down into usable pieces for our cells and different areas of our body. Each food has a different purpose, which is why it’s good to get a variety. The stomach uses acid to break down the food and certain foods need longer to sit than others before they head into the intestines. This is where most nutrients are absorbed, and why it’s important to have a healthy gut. Without a healthy digestive tract, nutrients won’t be absorbed properly leading to low energy, fatigue, and eventually illness. We all know what happens to the leftovers from the intestines. It’s healthiest to be going #2 one to three times a day. When you eat a meal, it’s normal for your body to respond and make room accordingly. Other organs like the liver clean the body. Something I recently learned is that the beans and psyllium husk are the only things that can bind to the liver bile and carry out excess toxins and hormones from the body.
Your assignment today is to assess how your digestive tract is functioning. How often are you going to the bathroom? Can you do some research to find foods that will help things move along? My favorite are beans. As someone with Crohn’s the idea of eating beans scared me, but in fact your body just needs to adjust to being able to digest them with minimal gas, so start out with a very small amount and build up. I love adding them to chilis and stews. Some beans that are easiest to digest are white beans. Or, if you’re going too often, what are some foods you can avoid or add to slow things down? Even if you’re on medication to treat an issue, it never hurts to supplement with natural remedies. For example, something that can cause both constipation and diarrhea depending on the person is sugar. And if you live in the US, we could all do with cutting out sugar. Just make sure to check the ingredients on your packaged foods!
“When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, I was so overwhelmed and felt like my body was attacking me.”
“The worst part was that I knew I wasn’t properly nourishing myself and still made poor choices that led to my diagnosis.”
“Embodying the mind-set that you are healthy now and you can become even healthier takes a huge weight off your shoulders and allows your body to naturally reach health.”
How the digestive system works.
Action steps for tuning into your own digestive system.
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