“Normal” Habits that Cause Poor Digestion

What’s considered “normal” in our modern culture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy or optimal. 

As a pathway to optimal health and performance, optimal digestion is one of my main focuses as a clinical nutritionist. Why? 

Because the fire element in the body is responsible for all forms of transformation internally – digestion, absorption, assimilation, creation of digestive enzymes, maintaining balanced body temperature and metabolism, providing energy, supporting regular and balanced elimination, deep sleep, mental clarity, stability and groundedness, cellular communication, and zest for life

Among many others. 

In nearly all cases, the root cause of weight gain or stagnation, inflammation, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression, hormone imbalances and monthly or menopausal symptoms, are all rooted in the condition of the digestive system’s ability to optimally transform food into a healthy body and mind. 

In the last few years, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which is one of if not the oldest, medical system. In Ayurveda, many of the medical terms are in Sanskrit, a very old classical language. 

In Sanskrit, there’s this term used with poor digestion called Ama, meaning unripe, uncooked, or undigested food, or events that occur as a result of impaired digestive function. 

Can you spot any of the normal food preparation techniques that may be problematic for certain individuals?

In our modern lifestyles, there are lots of “normal” ways of eating that cause ama formation, or impaired digestive function:

  • Meal combinations that have complicated ingredient combinations or incompatible elements 
  • Eating heavy foods or indigestible foods
    • This may be unique to the individual or universal
    • For example, A meat lover’s pizza with lots of cheese is not going to be well tolerated by anyone.
  • Overeating
  • Eating allergenic or rancid food
  • Raw and undercooked food
    • Especially when it’s cold outside or the individual is cold, dry, and generally undernourished
  • Eating cold food
    • Especially when it’s cold outside or the individual runs cold
  • Eating dry and dehydrated food
  • Experiencing intense emotional stress and especially eating when experiencing that stress
  • Fasting for long periods of time 
  • Irregular eating patterns
    • The body likes routine because it has its own circadian rhythms that also regulate digestion as well as sleep/wake cycles. Meaning it’s best to eat at the same times every day!
  • Suppression of natural urges like needing to go to the bathroom, ignoring hunger or thirst, etc. 
  • When one travels a lot or the season or weather shifts
    • The body likes routine, and there may be an adjustment period with seasonal transitions, as well as with traveling to a new place.

Our ancient teachings remind us that  modern day “normal” isn’t necessarily natural. 

Do you routinely practice any of these seemingly “normal” ways of eating? I know I sometimes do, and I definitely notice a difference in my digestion, energy, skin quality, and generally how I feel – both when I fall into these habits and when I transition back to cooking and eating styles that support digestion. The common culprits for me are uncooked, crunchy salads, overcomplicated “cheffy” meal combinations, and eating when stressed or anxious.

Each of us tends to gravitate to a few of these and they’re often more of the root cause for impaired digestion than the idea that you simply can’t tolerate a big list of random foods.

The ability to take food and break it down into nutrients, and assimilate it into the body to be used as energy is the basis for building healthy body tissue (and thus a healthy body!) The goal for each of us is balanced digestion, and the stable mood, and smooth and efficient symptoms that come with it. This is possible for everyone. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can fix it, I’d love to speak with you in a quick phone consultation!

Learn more about which of the four types of digestion you have.