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What causes poor digestion?

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Everyone experiences occasional digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. However, when these symptoms occur frequently, they can cause significant disruptions to your life. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on your gut health.

Common Causes of Poor Digestion


Yes, Dehydration is number one on the list. Did you know digestion starts in the mouth? A dry mouth is an indication that you are dehydrated, and digestion will be affected. The first concrete act of digestion, chewing food, beings in the mouth, and requires salvia production. Salvia carries digestive enzymes that beings the breakdown of foods. If your dehydrated and you are not producing adequate salvia, your food will not be adequately prepared for further digestion in the stomach and intestines. 

Once dehydrated, the body will scavenge water from essential organs, such as the central nervous system. The body will steal water from the mucus membrane in the stomach and the small and large intestines. This can lead the stomach mucus membrane unprotected to HCL ( hydrochloric acid), which is acidic enough to burn a hole through a carpet and most certainly capable of causing ulcers. Pain associated with this process commonly causes reflex inhibition of the abdominal wall, which causes spinal stabilization issues. So yes, poor digestion causes a weak core, which creates posture issues like back and hip pain, (click here to read more about this). Too much HCL creates heartburn and indigestion of food.

If one takes Antacids to treat the pain from indigestion and heartburn, they will cause inhibition of the optimal breakdown of protein.HCL is needed to breakdown protein, which is necessary for repairing cells. If protein is not broken down well, it is less likely to be absorbed. The body will then start to break down its own proteins from muscle. Heartburn is a sign of Dehydration and should not be treated as an isolated condition.

What can you do to make sure you are correctly hydrated? 

1- Drink half of your body weight in ounces ( ex. a 200lb male would drink 100 oz of water).

2- Drink 16 oz of water before each meal to ensure proper hydration.

3- Adding a pinch of sea salt to each liter bottle of water will increase the absorption of water and aid HCL production.

A Toxic body

A body that is continually constipated will become toxic. If food remains in the garbage for serval days, it spoils and smells filthy. Imagine this process transpiring in your body! When undigested food remains for more than 24 hours, bacteria will start to feed on undigested remains and produce toxic waste. The most common offenders of a toxic body are:

  • Processed foods

  • Pasteurized dairy products

  • Processed juices

  • Dehydrogenated fats

Processed foods will disrupt proper function within the digestive system. There are 4,000 chemicals used in food processing, and our immune system sees these nasty chemicals as invaders. When the immune system reacts to these chemicals, the body removes them by creating diarrhea. 

Non-organic Dairy products contain a surplus amount of hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. The heat of pasteurization kills lactase enzymes and naturally break down lactose in milk. "The genetically-programmed and partial post-weaning loss of intestinal lactase activity affect up to 70% of the world's population."  Because the symptoms of lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are very similar, misdiagnosis between the conditions is likely. 

Processed Juices are in the same boat as Pasteurized milk. Natural enzymes are killed during the pasteurization (like in milk). These enzymes are important because they make nutrients more available to your body as an energy source. Because Nutrients are also destroyed during pasteurization, your mostly left with sugar water. Sugar with no fiber and no enzymes will feed unfriendly bacteria, parasites, and yeast. Their excrement causes toxics that can harm your liver, kidney, and immune system. 

Fats are often dehydrogenated and often found in processed foods. When fats are damaged from heating, it is known as "bad fats," which relates to being plastic more than fat. Whenever you eat more fat than your system can handle, you will stimulate a large amount of bile, causing diarrhea. 

Tap Water Many public water supplies have chlorine added to kill bacteria, and this includes the good bacteria in your gut and the bad bacteria. This generates Dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the gut bacteria that can create digestive issues. 

Caffeine While many can benefit from caffeine's stimulating effects, it can be extremely addictive and can cause loose stools. Caffeine dehydrates the body because it is a diuretic. Remember, Dehydration is number one on the list when it comes to what causes digestive issues.

Last but certainly not least, STRESS. Stress levels in modern society are at an all-time high. Starting the day by rushing to prepare for work or school shuts down the digestive system, which results in constipation. If you're too busy to stop work for a good meal later in the day, stress levels further escalate! Over time, digestion becomes progressively challenged.

Take action towards poor digestion.

Start keeping notes of each meal. Write down any symptoms that you get after each meal. Start eliminating foods that give you any unwanted symptoms. An elimination diet calls for the exclusion of suspected problem foods for 8-12 weeks. Questionable foods should then be reintroduced once at a time. 

Drink two glasses of clean, chlorine-free water 15 minutes before each meal. Chew your food until its liquefied. Whenever possible, start your meal with live foods. All raw foods contain enzymes that are beneficial to digestion. You can also invest in a digestive enzyme that is known to help digest food thoroughly!

So what causes poor digestion? It is usually a poor diet and high-stress levels. Take your time by attaching each of these steps one by one, and you will see results in your digestion. I highly recommend om reading the book How to Eat, Move, and be healthy by Paul Chek. This book will help a ton!



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