From the viewpoint of Chinese medicine in Miami, digestion is necessary for good health and immunity. We need to remember that for strength and vitality, it is not just the kind of food we eat, but the way we digest food as well. Visualize for an instant your stomach as a cauldron with a flame furnishing heat from below to break down the food in order to absorb all the essential nutrients. The efficiency of this metabolic process relies on the strength of the fire. If we have weak digestive fire, we won’t be able to derive the things we need from our food. In addition, incomplete digestion leads to metabolic waste that in Chinese medicine is known as phlegm or dampness.

The following is a list of tips to consider:

1. The consumption of organic, fresh, steamed or lightly cooked vegetables should be emphasized. Legumes and small portions of lean animal proteins should be thoroughly cooked and served as soups or stews. Also recommended are moderate amounts of oats, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains for fiber.

2. Avoid or at least minimize the consumption of foods that are known allergens or difficult to digest. These may include wheat products, sweeteners, dairy products, and refined oils and sugars. Seeing as a huge chunk of the standard American diet comprises these items, it may a take a bit of research to look for appropriate alternatives. Healthy sweeteners include small amounts of natural raw cane juice sugar or maple syrup, barley malt extract, rice syrup, and Stevia extract (which you can easily find in health food stores). In lieu of wheat products, you can try brown rice or corn pasta, millet, oats, rice cakes, and rye bread. Dairy products substitutes include organic cheese, sheep or goat dairy, almond or rice milk, or soy.

3. Refrain from late night meals or from over eating. Generally speaking, one should eat to the point of being two thirds full. If you eat more than this, you will likely become sluggish or feel sleepy later on. The digestive system is at its weakest at this time. It is advised that you eat your supper or last meal three hours before you go to sleep.

4. Avoid distractions while eating. When eating, avoid arguments, work, or TV. Enjoy the foods you eat and the company you have when you’re eating.

5. Get in touch with your feeling before and after eating. Doing so will help you become more aware of your food choices. If you’ve eaten too many sweets, instead of feeling guilty for it, just notice how you feel later on. You will, over time, want to naturally consume foods that make you feel good, instead of being driven by shame or guilt to eat better. Your choice of food is usually directed by unconscious needs for comfort or gratification instead of the need for nourishment. Bringing these subconscious patterns to the surface will sooner or later dis-empower them.

6. Refrain from eating raw food especially during winter. In Chinese medicine, raw foods are by nature cooling foods and when they’re eaten in large amounts can extinguish the digestive fire in your body. To preserve natural enzymes, it is a good idea to cook or steam lightly your vegetables. Foods that are easy to digest include soups, gruels, and stews.

7. Go outdoors and be physically active. Walking and other light physical exercises boost circulation and peristalsis that benefits the digestion process.

8. In the morning, it is advised to activate your gastrointestinal system. When you wake up in the morning, drink a cup of warm lemon water half an hour before breakfast,. This will prepare your digestive system for your daily meals.

Important Note

When combining food, here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Keep your meals simple as possible, with an emphasis on legume or lean based proteins and fresh vegetables.

2. During meals, try to separate the proteins from fruit and sugar. The more proteins and ingredients are in the meal or the more complex the meal is, the more it will be difficult to digest it.

Helpful Products

1. Green Super Foods – Green super foods are extremely detoxifying and have the ability to harmonize body acidity. They are rich in necessary nutrients that restore and feed normal cell function. Spirulina, wild blue green algae, alfalfa, barley grass, and chlorella are some examples of useful greens. Take green food with your meals one to two times a day.

2. Digestive enzymes – These substances aid in the decrease metabolic wastes and the assimilation of nutrients. A digestive enzyme (full spectrum) taken with each meal is suggested.

3. Probiotics. These foods produce beneficial intestinal flora that are crucial in the assimilation of nutrients from food. This is especially important after taking in antibiotics. Good probiotics include spore based probiotics such as L Sporogenes and B. laterosporus as well as Acidophilus.