When it comes to Fat Loss this particular topic is not discussed to often in the fitness world, why? I don’t really know, but what I can presume is this, it’s not the prettiest topic to talk about thats for sure.
Firstly lets give you an overview of what Poor vs Good Digestion actually is.
Good digestion occurs when minerals are absorbed from the gastrointestinal system and assimilated adequately, therefore maximising physical and mental performance. (this is good)
On the flip side, the opposite happens if digestion is poor, you become nutrient deficient and your energy levels and vitality suffer. (that’s bad)
Lets Get To Know The Digestive System
The gastrointestinal tract is a long, hollow tube that extends from the mouth to the anus: food and fluids that enter the GIT do not become part of the intestinal environment until they have been broken down and absorbed into the blood or lymph channels (stay with me here, this is important stuff)
The nutrients contained in ingested foods and fluids must be broken down into molecules that can be absorbed across the wall of the intestine, gastric acid and enzymes get to work and begin the digestive process.
The small intestine is the Major site for the digestion and absorption of food.
If food is not digested properly it ferments in the stomach and upper intestines producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide and organic acids. (i think we know what that means, its times like this you start blaming the poor dog, lol)
In a healthy digestive system, the lining of the digestive system is a very efficient filter, allowing beneficial nutrients like vitamins and amino acids to pass into the blood stream, whilst keeping toxic bacteria and waste products of digestion within the bowel.
Any of the below conditions can cause poor digestion:
- Poor liver function – this is the major filter and detoxifier of the human body.
- Poor diet – this is all about poor food choices, junk food and processed foods are a huge contributor here. The most common culprit is the lack of fibre, which is found in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Low fibre is a primary cause of poor digestion and nutritional deficiencies
- Medication – antibiotics, steroids and the contraceptive pill can alter the balance of bowel flora. (warning, always consults with your doctor before stopping or even starting any medications.
- Low levels of digestive enzymes – this is common past the age of 40.
- Food Intolerances/ allergies – Lactose intolerance is a well known example. You can get specific tests done to check for intolerances, please ask your GP
- Stress – This causes energy to be taken away form the gastrointestinal tract and also lowers the absorption of minerals and nutrients.
Now I probably don’t need to tell you this but water is a VERY important part of the digestive function.
With our busy lives we are lucky to get in a couple of classes of the good ole H20 a day (NOTE: you are never to busy to drink water)
The body absorbs water best when it is drunk in small but constant amounts, think of a piece of clay, now picture yourself tipping a full bucket of water over the clay, now the piece of clay would be luck to absorb 5% of the water, now think of the piece of clay and picture yourself dripping water onto it, in slow instalments, the clay has a much higher chance of absorbing the water, our bodies work in a similar way, except we are much better looking than a piece of clay don’t you think?
On a normal day 33ml of water per kilogram is needed, i bet your thinking right at this moment, wow i would never stop going to the toilet if i drank that much? you will get used to it, i mean how does the American Swimmer Michael Phelps eat 12000 calories a day, i bet he struggled like crazy when he first started, now it would be like an afternoon snack to him.
So the moral of the story is DRINK Water, 33ml per kg of body weight to be precise, ok so moving on…
TIP: to replace lost electrolytes try adding Himalayan or Celtic sea salt to your drinking water.
A moderate amount of exercise enhances digestion by promoting nutrient absorption (YAY another great reason to get up and moving).
On the flip side, if you are an excessive exerciser, supplementaion is needed as it is difficult for the diet to provide enough to keep up with the depletion caused by high levels of exercise.
How Poor Digestion Can Effect Fat Loss
For people who are very active in sports or exercise and still struggle with fat loss, there can be a number of contributing factors.
Fat loss wont happen if the body is trying to protect itself in some way. This can be directly related to digestion, and the amount of toxins present in the fat cells. The body holds onto fat as releasing the built up toxins from the fat cells can be very damaging.
Other reasons the body holds onto fat are because of thyroid disorders or mineral deficiencies.
For eg: potassium is the main mineral that allows the cells to detoxify. Levels of cellular potassium decrease during exercise, and this can be a cause of toxin inhibition, cellular swelling (with water and fat), keeping toxins trapped inside the cell.
Do You Crave Salt & Sugar?
Sugar and salt cravings are a sign the digestive system is out of balance. Salt cravings can indicate lack of salt but it can also mean the liver is not working effectively.
Sugar cravings can also indicate lack of protein, low chromium levels or yeast overgrowth.
The Bottom Line
There are many, many signs and symptoms of poor digestion, but the bottom line is that poor digestion is intimately associated with poor health.
If you think you may have poor digestion i would suggest to consult with a Naturopath or you GP to get this looked at.
Remember that clean nutrition and regular exercise can dramatically decrease your chances of poor digestion.
So the next time your hand reaches for that junk food, think about how hard your body needs to work to try and break it down, is it really worth it?
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