Digestion is Like Fire, Digestion is Like Earth

Digestive Organs

I see so many individuals who have digestive conditions. In order to address the cause of these conditions it is important to understand that digestion is like fire and digestion is like earth. What does this mean? Well, digestion is like fire in that this is how we burn, or metabolize, nutrients and reduce them to "ash," or waste material. This literally is our metabolic fire, the energy that keeps us warm-blooded creatures going. We don't want our fire to be too low or we are always tired, with poor appetite and susceptibility to cold. However, we don't want our fire to be too high either, or we end up with heartburn, stomach ulcers, excess thirst, or acid reflux.

On the other hand, digestion is like earth because this is how we dissolve and break down foods into smaller particles so that their nutrients can be absorbed and utilized by our cells. Think of the soil and how anything that falls on the forest floor is slowly broken down and absorbed. This is exactly how our digestive organs work. We use stomach acid and digestive enzymes to reduce foods to smaller and smaller particles and then absorb them through our intestinal walls into our bloodstream. And, just like the soil, our digestive process depends on the beneficial bacteria in our intestines to help up do this effectively. In fact, we actually couldn't live without the bacteria in our guts! This is why supplementing with digestive enzymes and probiotics can be so beneficial for those who have poor digestion.

I started thinking about all of this and its implications on diet just the other day when I came across an article from the BBC, "Did the Discovery of Cooking Make Us Human?" It's quite an interesting hypothesis, you really should read it. In the article, the author proposes that if we ate nothing but raw foods, like chimpanzees, we would have to eat around five kilos of raw food per day to get enough calories to survive. Not only that, but we'd have to spend a staggering 6 hours per day chewing in order to properly extract the nutrients from our foods. Cooking our food saves us from all of that chewing because it breaks down cells walls so that our intestines don't need to do as much work to release the nutrients. In other words, cooking predigests our foods, saving us energy because we don't need to work so hard to digest it. Apparently cooking our foods may have even precipitated an evolutionary leap for us, freeing up energy to power a larger brain, and freeing up time for the development of culture. In fact, once we started cooking out foods our digestive system reduced in size by 20% and our brains grew by exactly the same amount, 20%! As the article states, "Cooking is essentially a form of pre-digestion, which has transferred energy use from our guts to our brains."

 
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