Summer Digestion Made Simple

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your digestion causing discomfort, especially in the summer.  There are a number of reasons for this and a few simple suggestions to alleviate the symptoms.

Articles concerning what and why summer heartburn happens are in abundance.  Some believe there are eight foods that trigger the acid response.  Others believe taking over-the-counter pharmaceuticals is a solution.  In case you were curious about the eight foods, they are: hotdogs, cheeseburgers, baked beans, lemonade, ice cream, corn on the cob, BBQ Ribs, and iced coffee.  While those may cause some stomach distress, because of the extra fat content and spices, I would like to offer another consideration.

In the winter months it is common to consume more of the “meat and potato” type diet, which is not a bad combination, when it comes to digestion in the stomach.  When summer arrives, we begin to eat more fresh and raw produce, along with the meat and potatoes.  This is when the trouble begins.

Food combining is a practiced form of chemistry, balancing acids and bases that can neutralize each other.  The food combining diet can be particularly useful for individuals that suffer from acid reflux or chronic indigestion.  Because stomach stress is relieved by this form of eating, often weight loss and health will follow.  Some people begin to notice a difference almost immediately.

Here are a few tips to put good food combining practices to use in your household this summer:

  • Melons should ALWAYS be eaten alone!  Melons are a summer fruit which break down quickly, in as little as twenty minutes.  So wait at least that amount of time before consuming any other food.
  • Liquids should be taken separately, as well.  This includes water.  There are some conflicting opinions on this point as it is believed that consuming too much water with a meal dilutes stomach acid, impeding digestion.  I suggest drinking only enough to wash the food down.
  • Fruit, in general, should be consumed on their own.  Some believe morning to be the best time to consume these as it is the time when the body is already cleansing and eliminating.
  • Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) should be eaten separately from starches (at different meals) but vegetables may be combined with both proteins and starches.  Potatoes are considered a vegetable, not a starch, for combining purposes.  Stomach acid is required for digestion of proteins, and if starches are combined with the proteins, the digestive environment is neither acid nor alkaline enough for either food group to be absorbed well.
  • Starches are, usually, digested well when consumed alone or with vegetables.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed when you combine certain foods, it causes tummy trouble.  In our culture it’s not as common to think we have too much acid when we actually have too little.  When there is not enough digestive acid, the foods break down differently and cause gas which pushes into the esophagus, burning and resulting in belching and inflammation.  Sugars break down more quickly than proteins, so, save that dessert for a couple of hours later.

If this doesn’t’ appeal, (which I think it is at least worth trying), consider digestive enzymes before reaching for the acid blockers.  This also good if you’ve eaten too much and need relief.

Here’s to a well digested summer… Enjoy!

Article originally published 6/25/2013 & republished 7/11/2016

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