With all the focus on what to eat or not eat, let’s look at how we absorb what we eat. I have been a fan of adding in digestive support for a long time, whether you add in live enzymes from certain foods or from a supplement. These enzymes were a life saver for me when my digestive system was completely compromised.
Organisms and toxins are constantly leaked into our system. Whether it is from environmental toxins, processed foods or good and bad bacteria, we need to support our immune system and digestive system to perform at their A game. The lining of your digestive tract is the gatekeeper for your health.
Let’s dive into the structure of our digestive system. Digested nutrients pass into the blood vessels in the wall of the small intestine through a process of diffusion. The inner wall, or mucosa, of the small intestine is lined with simple columnar epithelial tissue. The mucosa is covered in wrinkles or folds called plicae circulares. From the plicae circulares project microscopic finger-like pieces of tissue called villi (Latin for shaggy hair). The individual epithelial cells also have finger-like projections known as microvilli. The function of the plicae circulares, the villi, and the microvilli is to increase the amount of surface area available for the absorption of nutrients.
The small intestine is where most chemical digestion occurs. Most of the digestive enzymes that act in the small intestine are secreted by the pancreas and enter the small intestine via the pancreatic duct.
The enzymes enter the small intestine in response to the hormone cholecystokinin, which is produced in the small intestine in response to the presence of nutrients.
Brush border enzymes take over from there. The most important brush border enzymes are:
- glucoamylase that further break down oligosaccharides
Ah, here lies some clarity around lactose intolerance. Lactase is absent in most adult humans and so lactose, like most polysaccharides, is not digested in the small intestine. Some carbohydrates, such as cellulose, are not digested at all. Humans lack the enzyme for splitting the beta-glucose-bonds, something reserved for herbivores and the bacteria from the large intestine.
Foods with live enzymes to brush up your intestinal tract.
- Bananas contain the enzymes amylase and maltase.
- Pineapple has a number of enzymes that will help with digestion. The fruit contains cysteine proteinases, which are able to help the body break down and easily digest protein
- Bee pollen has over 5,000 different enzymes.
- Papayas contain papain are considered to be one of the most effective foods and can aid with the digestion of meats and other tough-to-digest proteins.
- Kiwi contains an enzyme known as actinidin, which will help break down proteins that are found in meat, eggs and dairy.
- Miso & Sauerkraut: The fermentation promotes a healthy community of digestive enzymes that aid and support your digestion
To help you enjoy your snacks for the Super Bowl, here are a few ideas to help your digestive tract.
- Have a light breakfast that includes two or more of these items: Do Step 1: FEEL and ask your body if it wants hot or cold. If you are craving hot, warm up some miso soup. One of my favorites right now is: Miso Master Brand. If you are craving cold; Have a whole food smoothie with either papaya or pineapple, a drizzle of honey, spinach, hemp hearts and lime.
- Bring crudité: Have some raw veggies on hand for the party. My favorite are: Radishes, carrots, jicama and red peppers.
- Have your sweet tooth covered: Make sure to have something a bit sweet to support your cravings and taste buds. I am loving banana ice cream! Try this: Cut up 3 large, ripe bananas, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a small dash of cinnamon and sea salt to taste. Freeze bananas then add to a good blender along with other ingredients. Refreeze and ENJOY! Here is banana ice cream for the topping of baked apples I recently made for a retreat.
- Cauliflower wings: I swear you will love them!
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, milk, and garlic powder until combined. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Roll cauliflower in batter until evenly coated. Bake until the cauliflower is crispy and golden around edges, about 20 to 25 minutes @ 450 degrees.
With abundant nourishment,
P.S. It is time to jump in warm water! Come swim with dolphins in Hawaii, while I cook for you! We have 3 spots left for our Hawaii retreat. I just booked my flight and am so excited to round up the ingredients on the island to cook for you!
Follow Conscious Nutrition!