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Monday
Sep282009

5 Tips for Perfect Raw Digestion

Your digestive system plays an important role in achieving good health.

Poor digestion leads to cramps, constipation, gas and fermentation.  These symptoms are bad enough on their own, but can lead to more serious secondary symptoms like an irritated colon, mucus buildup, ineffective nutrient absorption, internal toxemia, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease and even colon cancer.

If you aren't experiencing great digestion, then you aren't experiencing great health.  It's that simple.  Yet for some reason, we usually don't think about digestion until we start to feel sick or uncomfortable.  By that point the problem has been building up for quite a while and damage is being done.

Good digestion should be effortless.  You shouldn't even notice there's anything going on.  If you're eating a raw-vegan diet and remembering a few key principles, you should be well on your way to perfect digestion and excellent health.

  1. Food Combining:  Certain foods don't mix well.  Try to limit the number of different foods in any particular meal and choose relatively similar foods that go together.  For example, don't eat a meal of bananas and walnuts.  Bananas are a simple sugar and digest quickly.  Walnuts are mainly fat and digest slowly.  They require different enzymes to break down and they can't both be handled properly at the same time.  Instead, stick to foods that match well.  A smoothie with bananas, mangos and some leafy green vegetables works great.

  2. Light Before Heavy.  Quick Before Slow:  This meshes well with tip number one.  Make sure you eat light foods that digest quickly before any heavy foods that digest slowly.  For example, you should eat the banana long before you eat the walnuts.  That way, the banana can digest quickly and move through your system without any problems.  But if you eat the walnuts first, the banana will get stuck behind for a long time and ferment.  This causes indigestion.

  3. Only Eat When Hungry:  Many of us have developed the social habits of eating simply because "it's mealtime".  Don't eat because the clock says you should.  Clocks tell us what time it is, not whether we're hungry or not.  Listen to your body.  If you're experiencing signs of true hunger, then eat.  If you're not, give your digestive system a rest instead.  When you're hungry, your body will tell you.

  4. Don't Go to Bed on a Full Stomach:  When we sleep, our digestive system goes into partial shutdown mode.  Food that's in the middle of being digested will basically sit there until the next morning.  Meanwhile it just ferments.  Not only does this lead to poor digestion, but it also makes for a restless sleep.  Avoid eating very much in the couple of hours before bed.  If you really need to eat, choose something light and easy to digest, like fruit or green vegetables.

  5. Maintain Good Digestive Bacteria:  One of the players in the digetive process that we often forget to talk about is our digestive bacteria.  Not all bacteria are bad.  In fact, there are many that peform special roles that we rely upon.  A healthy stomach and intestines should have a well-established community of good bacteria to help break down the foods we eat.  Unfortunately, many of us destroy these bacteria with bad dietary choices, drugs, acidity and irritating spices.  If you find your digestion isn't quite up to standard, you may benefit from taking a probiotic supplement for a month or two and reestablishing the bacteria.  I recommend Udo's Choice brand of probiotics and have used them myself for years.

If you remember these five tips and apply them to your raw-vegan diet, you'll be doing your digestion (and thus your health) a big favor!

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.

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