Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

Finding Energy – It’s More Than Just Choosing the Right Foods!

The first step to optimum health is making food choices that serve our unique bodies. Foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can be used to create energy that makes us look and feel great!

So, if you feel like you are choosing the foods that will do this for you. If you are listening to my mantra and incorporating those foods into your lifestyle. Lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Don’t forget your healthy fats found in fish and the occasional piece of grass-fed organic beef. Yet you still are not losing weight and feel BLAH! Why is that?

To understand why you are consuming the right foods but still don’t have very much energy, let’s follow what happens after your food is consumed.

First of all, it must be properly digested. Many of us rush through a meal, eager to get to our next project, event, television show, whatever. However, digestion starts in the mouth. That is where enzymes are released in our saliva that begin the digestion process. In addition, this is the only part of digestion that we have complete control – chewing. Chewing should become a meditative practice. Take a bite and chew it until the food is liquefied. On average, this is 30 chews! Of course, the urge to swallow is going to occur. Move the chunky food to the side of your mouth, like you would a piece of chewing gum, and swallow the liquid. This breaks the food down into smaller pieces which make it easier for your stomach to take over the job.

Our stomach houses the “gastric juices” also known as hydrochloric acid. Yes, the same hydrochloric acid that you may have burned your skin with during high school science classes. When we take proton pump inhibitors or even as we age, the amount of gastric juices in our stomach becomes suppressed and it becomes more and more difficult to break our food down into the nutrients that our bodies need. It’s at this stage that proteins are effectively reduced to individual amino acids. These same amino acids help us sleep, build muscle and help control our moods.  Do you understand why we become grumpy, weak and tired old or even just middle-aged people?

This stereotype can be reversed. You can help strengthen your stomach acid in several ways:

  • Take a supplement called hydrochloric pepsin available at Whole Foods or the Vitamin Shoppe or, of course, from Amazon.
  • Don’t drink with your meals. Hydration should occur in between meals. Drinking during meals dilutes the stomach acid and makes it less effective.
  • Certainly don’t drink coffee or tea with your meals. The tannins in these beverages binds with minerals and contributes to lowering your energy because you are not processing key nutrients.
  • Put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 2 or 3 ounces of water and sip on this during your meals. The apple cider vinegar increases your stomach acid production and the enzymes in the acv help you digest your food.
  • If feeling bloated and uncomfortable during a meal is common for you and you are not over eating, take a digestive enzyme. One of my favorites is Digestgold from Enzymedica.

If you are on a PPI for heartburn, chances are, you have that heartburn due to a food sensitivity. It could be gluten, dairy, eggs or something unique to you. You can discover which foods these might be through a food elimination diet. Also, eliminate known triggers from your diet such as caffeine, wine and chocolate.

Once the food is properly digested, it is time for nutrients to be absorbed into our cells. To learn more about that, stay tuned!

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