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After the food is chewed up and swallowed, this mass of food called a bolus travels down a long tube called the esophagus and meets up with the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). The LES is an important gateway as is separates highly acidic stomach juices from the delicate tissue of the esophagus and controls the flow of food into the stomach. The LES relaxes or constricts in response to gas pressure, pH, and certain foods (like spicy, citrus, high fat foods, food sensitivities, poorly chewed food). DYK: When this sphincter is inefficient and/or stays open, you can experience reflux!
Food enters into the stomach which is essentially an expandable bag of muscles that churns and squeezes food into smaller pieces. Food also triggers a release of gastric acids including pepsin which starts the chemical digestion of proteins.
Cells lining stomach produce mucous to protect the muscle layers from the highly acidic environment. These cells are replaced every few days.
-The “fundus” is the top part of the stomach that is very expandable and makes room for food and air we swallow while eating. - The “body” is middle portion where gastric juices are secreted to aid in digestion as well as removal of harmful bacteria.
-The bottom part of the stomach contains the pyloric sphincter which separates the stomach and the small intestine.
Once food is chewed, churned, and saturated with enzymes, it turns into “chyme”. Chyme goes onto its next journey into the small intestine 1 teaspoon at a time through peristalsis (or wavelike motions) through the pyloric sphincter at a rate of 3 contractions per minute.
Did you know stomach acid is a really, really important part of digestion as well as immunity?
And that LOW stomach acid can produce similar symptoms as TOO MUCH stomach acid?
Last post, I highlighted how looking, smelling, tasting, feeling, and even listening to your food begins the process of digestion. (Please go check it out if you missed it!) So often we miss this step due to distracted eating— whether behind the wheel, at our desks, or shoveling scraps off of our kids’ plates.
Now that we appreciate the importance of taking part in preparation, looking at our food, giving thanks, and slowing down, the next step of the process takes place:
Most of us don’t chew our food very well (guilty 🙋🏼♀️!). We’re either rushed, over-hungry (commence shoveling), or distracted and miss the first mechanical part in the digestion journey.
In addition to the mechanical digestion provided by our jaws, teeth, and tongue, little salivary glands in our mouths secrete enzymes to help in the process.
Salivary Amylase is the most abundant enzyme produced in response to starches and other carbohydrates. Every wonder why your mouth waters when you think about #cake 🍰 ?
Next is lingual lipase, which is mostly lost after infancy (to be replaced by stronger enzymes we’ll talk about later on!) which helps babies to #digest fatty acids in milk.
In the next few posts, you’ll see some words that end in “-ase” (amylase, protease, lipase, etc.). When you see that -ase ending, know that those are enzymes. #Enzymes in the digestive tract help to break down food. (You may notice some -ase ingredients in your vitamins!)
🤯 Did you know you should be chewing each bite 15-20 times? Try it out and report back! Tell me how many chews you’re averaging below! 🤯
Last series I focused on #liver #detoxification , which is part of the digestive process, but you may be asking, “Where is the liver? What is digestion? What does “the gut” refer to?” No worries, my friend, I’m here to normalize #nutrition for you a bit! Put on your thinking caps as I’m doing another series.
This time: Digestion 101
The GI Tract (gastrointestinal tract) is basically a really, really long tube that has two major openings— the mouth and the anus.
The GI tract is the hub of all health because of its many jobs including (but not limited to):
🌟Digesting food (breaking down food into smaller, more manageable pieces)
🌟 Absorbing nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids)
🌟Producing and housing the majority of our immune system
🌟Balancing sex hormones (through detoxification)
🌟Housing of “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and dopamine
The “gut” is the first area that is tackled when working together as we are only as healthy as our gut!
Therefore, let’s gain a little better understanding of what goes into digestion by starting with the first step... ☝️ acknowledging the food in front of you!
When we see, smell, feel, and hear food, our body begins to produce #digestive #enzymes to prepare to breakdown food.
💥Take part in your food preparation
💥Giving thanks for your food before the meal
💥Smelling your meal
💥Looking at your #food . No, seriously. How often do you just stuff and crunch without looking down?
When we skip those important parts of digestion, our “gut” doesn’t get the memo that it need to get to work. This leaves you feeling:
😩bloated (from lack of enzyme production)
😩overfull (because distracted eating makes you less aware of how much you’re taking in)
😩worse #cravings (because you’re disengaged with your meal).
How many times have you dined at your computer 🖥 only to look down at an empty plate still feeling hungry and dealing with #bloat ? Leave a 😩 if this is you!
I’m going to keep it real with you and share why I got into this field in the first place and how I’ve been completely misled. I want to remind you that no matter what you’re dealing with-- whether it is debilitating depression, severe #PMS , or #acne all over your face-- that although you may think I'm the picture of health, it hasn’t always been the case. I’m knee deep in the health and nutrition field because I love it, but also because I had to be my own advocate and learn the hard way how to take control of my health. Now, I’m here to do that for you.
I remember feeling exhausted minutes after waking up and sporting another zit on my face at business meetings. I remember measuring every molecule of food that went into my mouth and still feeling uncomfortable in my own body. I remember sneaking my son’s liquid multivitamin because it was just sweet enough to satisfy that sugar craving after white-knuckling my way through another “ #sugar #detox ”. Being diagnosed with #Hashimoto ’s disease was a slap in the face-- an unfortunate wake up call that I needed to be my own MVP. I realized really quickly to get curious about my symptoms and not take “you’re just getting older” as an answer.
I was doing everything I thought to be “right” by industry standard. “Eating well” used to mean spending my days feverishly counting calories, restricting food to the point of obsession, killing my self in the gym, and depriving my way into an unrealistic physique. But…that’s what we’ve simplified nutrition to, right? Calories in vs. out.
I’ve learned through my journey to create individualized and realistic plans to help myself and hundreds of women reclaim their inner goddess through nourishment— not deprivation.
Over the years I’ve been able to:
1) Eliminate stomach bloat
2) Control my raging PMS (my husband is happier than ever about this) 🤣
3) Stop wasting money on skin creams that promises to stop my acne
4) Keep up with my wild Little Man’s adventures
5) Not feel paralyzed when not micromanaging my macros
6) Be an example to my daughter of the woman I pray she becomes… which is not one who survives on celery juice.
Don’t settle. YOU are in control.
Give a 💪🏻 below!
This is the final post in this series. Let’s chat how you can further support natural liver detoxification beyond food. Remember, my friends, supplements are SUPPLEMENTAL to a good diet. If you haven’t mastered a consistently good diet, #supplements aren’t going to do you much justice!
In so many ways, you must earn your right to push detox pathways with supplements. If you’re constipated, still using toxic products, eating pesticide laden foods, etc. then you’re not ready for a detox.
Here are some of my favorite support options for general detox (and, please, check with your doc or RD to see if these are a right fit. You must EARN your right to push detox in the body. Remember, doing it blindly and incorrectly can leave you worse off! And I never have someone take all of these. Every person’s protocol is individualized):
N-A-C (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
Alpha Lipoic Acid
DIM, Calcium D Glucarate (more for hormones, but helpful nonetheless!) So, how do you know what support products are best for you? Test, don’t guess! Work with a provider who understands YOUR body, your biochemistry, your genetics, and your story who can tailor recommendations.
Okay, now tell me… your MAIN takeaway!
Let’s talk how we can support #detox through our #food choices. So far, we’ve taken a head first dive into all the bio-mechanisms behind the scenes at work in your body. Now that we can appreciate how hard your body is always working for you, you can repay her by consistently providing all the tools she needs.
Here are some ways we can support OPTIMAL #liver detoxification through the diet:
1. Ensure you’re having daily #bowel movements to get rid of toxins.
- Alleviate #constipation by focusing on the 4-F’s: fiber, fat, fluid, physical activity
- If chronically #constipated , work with a functional med practitioner to address root cause and get you back in action!
2. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water
3. Fill half of your plate with #vegetables , especially “cruciferous” vegetables like #broccoli , cauliflower, Brussels, cabbage, and kale
4. The rest of your plate should be a combo of #carbs (sweet potatoes, root veggies, squashes), proteins (grass-fed, #pasture -raised, wild caught), and fat (olives, olive oil, avocado, coconut, egg yolks, etc.) 5. Spice up your life ( #spicegirl fan for life here!). Don't be afraid to experiment with herbs and spices such as #turmeric , #cilantro , parsley, basil, oregano, cinnamon... SO many!
#Therapeutic foods for liver support:
- Eggs 🍳: WITH the yolk; contains tons of choline which is one of your liver’s faves!
- Beets: contains betaine which helps with regeneration of liver cells and flow of bile
- Onions/Garlic: contain sulfur; helps Ph. 2 detox; PRO TIP: when you dice up garlic, let it chill on the cutting board for about 10 minutes to unlock more potency to their therapeutic effects!
- Broccoli: supports liver’s detox enzymes; be sure not to over cook!
- Artichokes: help to increase bile flow to digest fats
- Meats, beans, nuts, seeds: provide amino acids to support Ph. 2
Next up: supplemental support of detoxification! Be sure to turn on notifications for my posts or check back!
What foods are you eating today to energize your #natural liver detoxification processes?
This is part 5 of this series focusing on liver #detoxification . If you’ve missed the past posts, please go check them out!
We left off with the “hot-headed diva” Intermediaries being matched up with the new #BFFs ( #antioxidants , amino acids, and other metabolites) to take a road trip through and eventually out of the body.
These besties can take a cruise down the following routes:
-Acetylation: detoxes hitamines, serotonin, salicylic acid, tobacco, and environmental toxins; binds with Acetyl CoA (by-product of energy metabolism); requires iron, B-Vitamins, and Vitamin C
-Glutathione conjugation: needed in both Ph. 1 and 2; detoxes heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides; requires amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine; can be boosted by Vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid
-Glucuronidation: major role in hormone and drug metabolism; binds with glycosidic bonds which are derived from glucose; requires magnesium and B-Vitamins
-Sulfation/Sulfoxidation: adds sulfur compounds to toxins; required to help with clearing endotoxins from gut bacteria metabolism; primary pathway for hormone detox; needs B12; folate, magnesium, B6, and taurine.
-Amino acid conjugation: eliminates food additives and environmental pollutants; dependent on #aminoacids glycine, taurine, #glutamine , arginine, and ornithine which come from animal proteins
- #Methylation : adds methyl group to #hormones , #neurotransmitters (brain messengers), #canniboids , and toxins like plastics; genetic mutations here can lead to #migraines , hormone imbalance, and mood disorders; requires B12, folate, magnesium, choline, methionine, betaine, and molybenum.
Wow, that’s a lot of science, so let me sum up Phase 2:
-It REQUIRES amino acids that we exclusively get from animal proteins. (Sorry, #vegans , don’t kill the messenger, it’s just biochemistry!)
-What are juice cleanses lacking? #PROTEIN
By a show of hands, who has felt worse while “detoxing”? 🤚
Oof… liver #detox is heavy stuff. Because I love you so much, I’m going to try to break it down for you! If you missed the previous 3 posts in the series, please go back and check them out!
We’re on to Phase 2 of this love story. We left off with Josie Geller waiting for Billy Prince to for the prom. Is he going to show? Is it a fake out? Will she finally get kissed? If you’re team “juice cleanse”, she’s going to get stood up. If you’ve stuck around these posts long enough, you may just get the answer you’re hoping for!
After Ph. 1 the toxins enter the “intermediary stage” where they’re even more toxic than before. These hot-headed divas are waiting to be picked up by Ph. 2 and get “conjugated” or conjoined with a variety of agents (or its new #BFF 👯♀️) that help calm them down. Sort of like when your gal pal is your voice of reason.
The new besties include:
- glucuronic acid
Compare Ph. 2 to this: taking a package to the post office, handing it off to the post office worker, the post office worker places a label on it, puts it on a conveyer, and the conveyor takes it to its respective destination.
In the body, the toxin and its new BFF 👯 get excreted from the body are urine or bile (which eventually leaves via stool). The BFF is a necessity for the toxin to be excreted. Otherwise, the toxin is sad, lonely, and angry and gets recirculated.
There are SIX pathways of Ph. 2 detox:
- Glutathione conjugation
- Amino Acid conjugation
Drop me a 💩 if you’re learning a bunch! Stay tuned for more in the series.
If you missed the last post that gave a broad overview of Ph. 1 Liver #Detox , please go check it out! This post goes a little deeper into Ph.1, so hold onto your hats.
Phase 1 Detox pathways (think of these as highways) include:
Did I get you terrors of your #biochem class yet? All combined, these pathways rely on oxygen (from breathing), vitamin and mineral cofactors and coenzymes (helpers), and inborn enzymes designed to push these pathways along.
Many so-called “detox” programs like juice cleanses only super-charge Ph. 1 and leave Ph. 2 behind in the dust— meaning there are super-charged toxins floating around waiting to be picked up by Ph. 2... and SPOILER ALERT...they get stood up. #ouch
You can compare the build up of Ph.1 Intermediates without ever connecting to Ph. 2 to Josie Keller from Never Been Kissed—she’s awaiting the arrival of Billy Prince on prom night. She’s been dreaming of the moment forever, finally got asked, is dressed to impress, giddy with excitement… until the moment Billy shows up with another girl and throws eggs at her. OMG. What a jerk! Now she’s more insecure and recluse than she initially was!
I've been throwing "juice cleanses" under the bus a lot because they're deceptive and it makes me mad, but the bottom line with Ph. 1 is BALANCE. We don't want it over-active or under-active. (Think Goldilocks). Juice cleanses aside, other factors that determine your PH. 1 speed include genetics, nutritional deficiencies, toxic burden, certain foods, medications, drugs, and certain nutrients.
But what happens when we have a SLUGGISH Ph. 1? Those people commonly have intolerances to caffeine, perfume, environmental chemicals, prescription drugs and often are super fatigued. They’re ultra-toxic!
All about that balance!
Okay, so let’s talk action steps to make Ph. 1 JUST right:
-Nothing extreme…surprise surprise
-Natural support through foods: leafy greens, nuts, seeds, herbs & spices
-Nutrients: magnesium, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin C, antioxidants, Vitamin A
- Repletion of any nutrients you are deficient in!
- reduce exogenous (outside body) toxins c
Next up, Ph. 2
Detoxification is broken up into TWO main phases. (Some will say three, but for simplicity sake, most people will accept the two main phases). These will be referred to as: Phase 1 and Phase 2. Original, I know!
The phases of detox can be compared to a roller coaster going up an incline. There must be a perfect and delicate balance of momentum and trajectory to smoothly transition the cart over the hill and onto the dip. Too fast? The cart flies off. Too slow? It rolls backwards.
Getting back to liver #detox .
The body stores toxins in our fat cells to protect us. In order to get these “fat soluble” substances out of the body, we must turn these toxins into a “water-soluble” form for excretion. (Why? Because we don’t pee, poop, or sweat fat/oil, right? 🤮). Ph. 1 liver detoxification uses enzymes and oxygen (why breath is so important!) to burn toxins so they can eventually be eliminated. Sub-phases (made that word up) include: oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, hydration, and dehalogenation.
Did I lose you yet?
The #liver is lined with a membrane system of cells called hepatocytes that are responsible for production and secretion of P-450 enzymes. This group of enzymes is synthesized in response to exposure to specific chemicals.
All done, right?
Wrong! The end products of Phase 1 are called Intermediates and require further alteration to be completely taken out of circulation, hence the second phase of detoxification called Phase 2. These Intermediates are highly reactive and can even be more dangerous than the original toxin. Yikes!
Phase 1 requires an abundance of mostly water soluble B-vitamins and antioxidants (patrol officers) to help calm down the free radicals (crazy drivers) and Intermediates (really, really crazy drivers) that were produced in the process of Phase 1. Without antioxidants to help police the free radicals, there would be highly charged and dangerous particles floating around the body like a drunk-driver cruising around during rush hour.
Juice cleanses only work on Ph 1, which can leave you feeling pretty crappy and likely more toxic than you started out. Oops! 🙊
Comment your main takeaway so far!
Yep, buckle up. It’s time for another “detox” post. This time, it'll be a series. Not sure how many, but enough to get my point across!
And, no, I’m not talking about the detox your neighbor is selling or the juice cleanse Brenda is doing. I’m talking the real-deal detox. Liver, kidneys…the whole shebang.
So, what does it even mean to “detox”? Otherwise known as “biotransformation”, it is “a metabolic process of clearing, neutralizing, and/or transforming toxins and ridding them from the body”. Aside from the obvious sources of toxins, like pollution, pesticides, cosmetics, processed foods, and self-care items, the body naturally produces toxins through its normal everyday functions that are eliminated via the detoxification pathways. This includes byproducts from food metabolism. Yep! Digesting your food produces endo(inside)-toxins!
The liver is the rock-star of detoxification and gets a lot of the “detox diet” attention because it plays such a vital role in the processing and handling of toxins.
Other jobs the liver performs includes: converts blood sugar into storage for later use, stores and processes vitamins and minerals, produces bile to aid in digestion, and packages fats for use through the body.
During detox, the liver scoops up toxins, packages them in pretty little boxes, and ships them out of the body through the urine, feces, and sweat. #byefelicia
That’s a lot of work the liver does…and she’s a hungry gal because of it! To keep the liver from getting hangry, we MUST make sure we're feeding her all the right things. Otherwise... YIKES!
Stay tuned as I take a deep dive into human detoxification that’ll get you to think twice about that green juice diet!
What can I say? I’m a sucker for an interesting cocktail! One of my faves is the kombucha margarita from Local Foods! (And I am a total victim of peer pressure. @lindsayreno.rd made me do it! 😂). An “avocolada” from @tropicalestx is part margarita, part pina colada, and all deliciousness. 🥑 🍹
Have an excellent weekend!
What are YOU up to this weekend?