Why you aren't - quite - what you eat
Contrary to popular belief, being healthy does not just depend on what you eat. I can already hear you say: “..surely if I eat lots of kale and nuts, I’m healthier than someone who eats junk. Right?”..well, not quite.
To consider whether you are really healthy or why you don’t feel great despite all the ‘good’ food you eat, you must assess how well you’re able to digest it. ‘You are what you can digest’ is therefore far more accurate than the popular adage.
Let's have a look: do you regularly suffer from bloat, irregular bowels, pain, gas or low energy? Are you overweight, can't get rid of your belly fat or acne/eczema? This means you need to assess whether your gut is strong enough to break down those nuts, seeds, wholegrains and raw greens. For most of us, this isn’t the case.
Some foods – such as raw foods, nuts, seeds, pulses, grains, contain acids and anti-nutrients (ie: phytic acid, leptins, saponins..) that are meant to protect that food from pests. These anti-nutrients interfere with digestive enzymes and also prevent you from absorbing many essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
This can all lead to more bloating, heartburn, acidity, constipation, diarrhea, belching, gas, feeling heavy.
These tips will help ease your digestion and enable you to fully benefit from all these expensive superfoods you've been investing in:
- Ease digestion by (at least) soaking (minimum 12 hours/overnight) all the grains, nuts, seeds and pulses you're planning to eat the next day. Then if you have more time, try sprouting (get a sprouting kit and follow instructions) and fermenting nuts, seeds, pulses and grains. These practices will help strip away the layers of anti-nutrients on the surface of the foods, making them more digestible. It will also tremendously increase your ability to absorb nutrients from these foods.
- Cook (lightly) all your vegetables, and always eat ripe fruit. This increases your ability to digest them, particularly if you tend to have loose stools and bloat.
- Eat nutrient-dense lightly cooked foods such as full fat dairy (if tolerated), traditional fats (butter, goose/duck fats, ghee..), muscle meat and fish. These foods are generally easier to digest.
- Look out for signs that your gut isn’t tolerating or digesting something (however ‘healthy’ it’s meant to be). Remove that food or soak/ferment/sprout it and see if it works better for you.
- Practice mindful eating. Eating under any amount of stress, or at high speed will tremendously alter your digestive capability and nutrient absorption.
As always, your body 'tells' you when something you eat isn't right for you. Ignore these signs at your peril!