Discussion Topic

Easily Digestible Foods

Posted on 07/21/10, 01:52 am
There are several reasons why we may need to consume easily digestible foods and vegetables for a period of time;
â¢Illness or recovery from an illness
â¢Weight reduction
â¢To get rid of problems due to excessive consumption of cholesterol
â¢Recovery from a surgery
"What are easily digestible foods?", is the first question that comes to our minds when we hear the words, 'most easily digestible foods'. The basic logic that can be applied while getting to know about the easily digestible foods is, simpler the nutrients within the food products, the easier is the digestion process. The term 'simple nutrients' can be explained as follows.

The most prominent and healthy food stuffs that human beings tend to consume primarily contain four basic types of food groups or nutrients namely, natural sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The human body needs all the 4 types of food nutrients in some or the other form, for the normal functioning of the body. The human digestive system requires the least time and energy to break down natural sugars and assimilate it in the body. The carbohydrates require a little more time and energy to be digested. The proteins can be classified into simple and compound. As the name suggests, the simple proteins require less time to be digested as compared to the compound proteins, and the fats require the maximum time to be broken down. The easily digestible foods thus contain more of natural sugars, simple proteins and carbohydrates. However, we cannot exclude the other nutrients like fats and compound proteins, vitamins and minerals, as they are required to fulfill the bodily functions that tend to go on in our body. Hence the easily digestible diet must not only contain easily digested protein, sugars or the easily digestible carbs, but must also contain some amount of fats, compound proteins and other complex nutrients of foods as well in small quantities. You may also read more on healthy recipes and healthy diet.

Before we begin with the list of easily digestible foods, we must bear in mind that there are many factors that affect the rate of digestion. Just eating the most easily digestible protein or living off on a diet of easily digestible snacks will not ensure a quick and easy digestion. You may also read more on
â¢Healthy Snacks
Showing 4 Replies
  • Reply #1 07/21/10  1:52am
    List of Easily Digestible Foods

    Vegetables
    Vegetables and for that matter, all the fruits contain a significant amount of easily digestible carbohydrates. Vegetables also contain two very important nutrients namely water and fiber that are instrumental in easing digestion and also increasing the rate of digestion. Eating the vegetables raw or in the boiled form are easy to digest. Furthermore, cooking the vegetables or storing them in the refrigerator oxidizes the enzymes and vitamins that are present in the food. Taking out the juice of the vegetables helps in quick digestion.

    Pulses
    Most of the pulses cannot be consumed in the raw state. To make the pulses easily digestible, you can either germinate them or boil them. Personally, I would recommend germination as it provides a good amount of simple proteins. I would also recommend you not to cook pulses with any fat or oil as it complicates the entire food, thus straining the digestive system. A dash of some herbs and fruit juice or lemon juice often tends to work wonders.

    Cereals
    Just like the pulses, one must certainly avoid cooking cereals with fat or oil. The simple proteins often get converted into compound proteins if cooked. Baking the flour of a cereal is quite okay, but again one must avoid any kind of fat. To know more about raw food consumption, read raw foods.

  • Reply #2 07/21/10  2:11am

    Easily Digestible Foods

    Vegetables..............Pulses............... Cereals
    potatoes................ soya sprouts.......corn fresh
    lucerne sprouts.......red lentils............ wheat sprouts
    asparagus..............green beans..........oats
    peeled zucchini......pod-peas............. rice
    apple.....................peas .....................quinoa
    garlic..................... green................ soybeans barley

    Some of the other vegetables that are easily digestible include chinese cabbage, pumpkin, chervil, green celery, pastinaak, peeled cucumber, purslane, red beet, tomato, white leek, turnip, spinach, small salad, fennel, sweet potato and carrots.

    Foods Which are Not Easily Digestible

    Vegetables........ Pulses..................... Cereals
    eggplant............ soya parts................. wheat
    endive.............. peas deep frozen.... ...buckwheat
    onion.................. tofu ..........................couscous
    Swedish turnip...... yellow soybeans....... bulgur
    cabbage ..............chickpea.................. .rye
    green leek ..........black eye............. .....beans seitan

    Some of the vegetables that are not easily digestible include cauliflower, mushroom, broccoli, daikon, celery root, black radish, peels of zucchini, paprika, salsify, Brussels sprouts, salad, beets, quorn and chicory.



  • Reply #3 07/21/10  2:12am
    The enzymes that are present in the stomach which digest the food require an acidic pH to function properly. This is where the hydrochloric acid in stomach comes into play. The main function of hydrochloric acid in stomach is to provide an optimum pH for normal functioning of the enzymes present there. For example, hydrochloric acid helps convert pepsinogen to pepsin, which is responsible for breaking down proteins in the stomach. Given below is the normal concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, along with information of what happens when there is over secretion and under secretion of hydrochloric acid.

    How Does the Stomach Prevent Itself from Digestion?
    Did you know that the pH concentration of hydrochloric acid in stomach is as low as 1 to 2? This pH is low enough to melt solid metal! So how does the stomach protect itself from self digestion? Well, the stomach protects itself from the strong acid as there is secretion of a thick mucus protective layer which prevents the acid from harming the cells of the stomach. Furthermore, sodium bicarbonate buffering aids in preventing damage to the cells of the stomach.

    Low Hydrochloric Acid in Stomach
    As mentioned earlier, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach has many important functions, and thus, when there is decreased secretion of it, it leads to many problems. Decreased production of hydrochloric acid is known as hypochlorhydria, whereas complete absence of hydrochloric acid is known a achlorhydria. This decreased production of hydrochloric acid can occur due to vitamin and nutrient deficiency. There are many symptoms of low hydrochloric acid in the stomach, like offensive smelling stool (due to the presence of undigested food), delayed gastric emptying, upper abdominal bloating and general flatulence, drowsiness after meal, frequent hunger pangs, etc. Furthermore, a decrease in the levels of gastric acid also lead to increased susceptibility to infections of the gastrointestinal tract, as the hydrochloric acid also the property of being a disinfectant. Thus, all these symptoms point towards decreased secretion and production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The treatment for hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria involves including food items that will either assist in the digestion process or will stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. These food items include cayenne pepper, vinegar, digestive enzyme supplements, etc.

    Too Much Hydrochloric Acid in Stomach
    Excess amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach can lead to a lot of health problems. This condition arises in certain diseases like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and hypercalcemia. Excess of gastric acid occurs when there are increased gastrin levels, which is responsible for instigating the cells into secreting more gastric acid. This condition leads to symptoms like stomach aches and stomach ulcers. Furthermore, other stomach acid symptoms include pain in the stomach due to the presence of excessive acid, which makes the person lose his or her appetite. Eating spicy food also further aggravates the pain in such cases. For stomach acid relief, the treatment is to take antacids, either in the form of solutions or drugs and medicines. However, for cases where there is persistent over secretion of hydrochloric acid, it is best to consult a doctor and get the condition properly diagnosed and treated.

    Thus, this was all about the functions and disorders related to hydrochloric acid in stomach. Although it is very rare that there are problems related to the levels of secretion of the acid, if they do occur, it is best to visit a doctor and get the condition treated at the earliest, so as to prevent any further complications.
    By Dr. Sumaiya Khan
    Published: 2/13/2010
  • Reply #4 07/21/10  2:18am
    Most people wouldn't recognise that digestive deficiency is the main cause of all these problems. The Chinese call it "dampness". This means that the processing of foods and the transformation of fluids does not occur adequately. Think of the digestion like a washing machine. You put the clothes in (food) and then the washing powder (digestive enzymes) and water (digestive juices) are added and the program begins. If the machine is does its job, then the clothes come out spun dry. If the digestion does its job, then the nutrients are assimilated and the waste food is eliminated. So what goes wrong?

    The first signs of dampness are bloating and flatulence - insufficient digestive enzymes leave undigested food which starts to ferment providing a perfect environment for the growth of candida. Candida likes warm, damp environments. It can even invade the body and take hold. Most people don't know that our digestive enzymes also enter the blood stream and will vacuum clean and destroy pathogens and partially digested foods that have escaped from the gut.

    When the dampness becomes more chronic, we may enter the phase of food allergies. If you're not digesting your carbohydrates, you will not be digesting your proteins or fats - as an under-functioning pancreas will fail to secrete all the required enzymes in adequate amounts. Incompletely digested proteins will lead to allergic reactions ranging from joint pain, eczema, asthma and other immune responses. Dampness will also appear as sinusitis, asthma or any condition of mucus accumulation. Parasites may also be harboured at this level.

    As the situation deteriorates, irritable bowel may become prominent. Returning to our analogy of the washing machine, the clothes are no longer spun dry, the digestion is weak and huge losses of nutrients occur. The impact on the body will be a slow but sure gradual deterioration of tissue integrity. Signs of chronic dampness are indicated in decrease of muscle tone (hernias, prolapses, incontinence, wasting), the onset of muscle pain, kidney weakness and blood deficiency which can lead to dizziness and fatigue.

    How do we restore the digestion?

    So an under-functioning digestion ultimately leads to an erosion of the whole body. If not enough nutrients are assimilated to feed and repair the body, then the body's general functions will decline. In my long experience, when we turn to nutritional supplements to correct "deficiency symptoms", they fail to nourish the digestion back to life and the situation worsens over a period of time until even the beneficial effects of supplements wear off.

    Repairing the digestion is dependent upon the type of diet and its method of preparation. We take the convalescent approach, where easily digestible foods are given as the first line treatment. The first rule is not to tax an already impaired digestion, so we must take the burden from the system and give foods that are readily digestible and assimilable, much like the foods you offer to a baby, or an older person. These foods must be a mixture of very well-cooked foods, and raw, living foods.

    Reduce the "Damp-forming" foods
    Returning to our theme of dampness in the system caused by the poor digestion. The "damp" forming foods are obviously the ones that should be removed. Most of you will be able to identify the main culprits - dairy and wheat. But there are others - bananas, concentrated orange and tomato juices, soy products, pork and rich meats, fats, bread, yeast, alcohol and sugars.


    Reduce the "Cold" foods
    Then there are the "cold" foods which include all food and drink that is taken cold or raw. An overload of damp and cold foods impairs the digestion. The Chinese have an energy equation where they measure the net amount of energy that is derived from a food after digestion. In other words, you subtract the amount of energy the body uses to bring the food to body temperature and digest it, from the total energy value of that food. Warm and easily digestible foods obviously will come out on top - they will deliver more net energy than cold, damp foods.

    So the diet will rely heavily on vegetables cooked in their own juices and ripe fruits (they will not tax the system), and cereal grains and legumes for their energy and protein content. But the person with the poor digestion may be unable to tolerate grains and legumes, so how do we adjust to meet these requirements? We bring these foods down to a minimum (but observe cooking techniques - see later) and bring the vegetables up to a maximum - which means juicing. But isn't this increasing the content of cold and raw? You are right, except when you juice you are actually increasing the net energy of the food.


    Include vegetable juices
    Freshly prepared juices, strained so that there is no fibre, require very little digestion. Not only this, if you use a juicer that does not destroy the enzymes, and take the juice as soon as it is prepared (60% of enzymes die within 30 minutes), then the nutrients contained within the living enzymes are rapidly taken up by the body, particularly the sick tissues which have already lost their capacity to recycle, retain and utilize nutrients. These tissues are unable to reactivate their own enzyme systems and so by default, they perpetuate a state of nutritional deficiency, even if plied with chemical nutrients. However, nutrients in their living state will support and replenish the enzyme systems of the cells until such a point when the organs are sufficiently restored to take over their full function. Nutrients fall out of their living state when the enzymes die or are oxidized, and they are no longer as effective. Enzymes are only living when taken in the raw state of the vegetable or fruit, not freeze-dried or processed in any other way.


    Observe Food Preparation/Cooking Techniques
    Cooked foods, particularly the cereal grains and legumes, must be prepared properly to maximize their nutritional value. They may form only a small part of the diet; perhaps you will take an oat porridge for breakfast daily, and include brown rice and legumes three times weekly. Protein requirements can be made good through the volume of juicing and by taking small amounts of yoghurt, already partially digested through bacterial activity (sheep or goat is less damp-forming than cow's), preferably unpasteurized and organic.

    The food preparation techniques for the seeds (nuts, grains and legumes are all seeds) are paramount to digestibility. It is the soaking, followed by the semi-germinating of these products that enables maximum digestion and absorption of nutrients. Soaking for at least 12 hours, inactivates phytic acid (very high in soy products) which binds with, and leads to heavy losses of dietary calcium, iron and zinc; while semi-germinating (rinse and drain the soaked seed and place in a glass bowl covered with a damp cloth for 12 hours) inactivates the enzyme inhibitors contained in all seeds. These inhibitors, which stop the seed from germinating until conditions are right, will inactivate your own digestive enzymes - hence the tremendous digestive difficulties people may experience with these products. I would recommend starting with lentils if your digestion is very poor.

    So the diet is simple, it won't jam the system and it will allow the digestion to restore. I use very few supplements, as if we can get the body to unlock all the nutrients - both the discovered and undiscovered, in their correct composition, mixture and quantity - then what better medicine can you get. However, I do recommend digestive enzymes, and the poorer the digestion, the more we take. There are many to choose from, both plant and animal enzymes are available (the ones derived from animal sources tend to be more effective). The basic rule of thumb is that you take as many as required, that will alleviate digestive discomfort on this very simple diet. Charcoal is quite good for alleviating the gas. You can take some salads, as the digestion will allow, and remember, to take your juices fresh, to help to eliminate gas build-up.



    The End of the Journey â Digestion at Cell Level

    The story does not here, for although the strength of our digestion and the quality of our food governs our overall health and vitality, if the cells cannot take up or âdigestâ the nutrients, then they will not repair or renew. In my practice I have seen that for an increasing number of people, following a good diet, correctly prepared for maximum digestion and supported with digestive enzymes (if required), is insufficient in resolving health problems. Indeed this type of diet can make them feel worse. For example, there is a wave of people now diagnosed with âhyper-insulinaemiaâ (too much insulin in the blood) where the symptoms mimic those of low blood sugar (low or fluctuating energy, irritability, weakness), with additional symptoms of congestion in the head, an inability to think straight, and a brain like â cotton woolâ. All these symptoms appear to be exacerbated after meals with a high carbohydrate content.


    With a Western perspective it is tempting to ignore the big picture and focus on the current symptoms. If there is too much insulin in the blood stream, then cut out the carbohydrates and increase the protein - this is indeed sufficient to mask the symptoms. However, if we apply an Eastern perspective we begin to understand that we are still looking at a problem of digestion, but digestion at cell level where the final stages of food conversion, to body tissue and energy, is completed. In the Chinese tradition, the function of the Spleen (the central organ of digestion, not to be confused with the anatomical organ), governs the complete âtransformation and transportationâ of food and fluids, from its digestion in the gut, its transport to the tissues and its final uptake by the cells, before conversion to energy and body tissues.

    You can see that digestion at cell level becomes a critical issue. In this context we can begin to review the function of the pancreas as an organ of digestion both at gut and cellular level. The pancreas not only secretes enzymes into the digestive tract but also secretes insulin into the blood stream. Insulin governs digestion at cell level. Without insulin, we would waste away; it is the key which unlocks the door of the cell and allows the nutrients in - the sugar, protein and fats. If the lock is changed (insulin receptor abnormal) or is inaccessible (covered by cholesterol), then the door remains locked and the body may respond by producing more insulin. In diabetes the opposite is true, but the end results are the same. A lack of insulin, as in uncontrolled diabetes, ultimately leads to severe muscle wasting.

    Many people are facing this deepening crisis. In order to nutritionally heal our cells must be able to take up nutrients that have been properly processed by the gut and liver. Any number of problems can arise along the way, but by reducing the dietary burden from the liver (specifically fats and protein) and improving the digestibility of the diet, you can go a long way to resolving these immediate problems. However, restoring the cells when they are unable to take up nutrients is a different issue. Where there are symptoms of obvious deficiencies (even when the diet seems adequate), treatment has hinged on nutritional supplementation, but the failure of many to respond to this treatment indicates problems either in the delivery of nutrients or their uptake by the cells.

    Digestion at cell level deals with two main issues, the capacity for transport across the cell membrane of nutrients and waste, and the general condition (pH and toxicity) of the internal cellular environment. Obviously transport across the membrane becomes a major priority for the cell. The cell membrane is an active, electrified sheet which acts as a transmitter of chemical and electro-magnetic signals across its membrane which, in turn, activate cellular structures inside the cell. It determines, through its many specific gateways, the entry and exit of nutrients, oxygen and waste products. The capacity of the membrane to maintain its electrical state is determined by the type of fats that make up its structure. It is the presence of the biologically active fats (such as the linoleic and linolenic fatty acids found in seeds, grains and nuts) that have not been destroyed by light, heat or processing, which maintains the electrical integrity of the cell membrane. These oils, by virtue of their structure, can store and conduct energy and attract oxygen into the cell, which is critical for the oxidation, or burning of foods, to their end-state â ATP production (energy) and the building of new tissue. Other fats such as the saturated fats (butter, lard, dripping) and oils that have been subject to heat and chemical processing are electrically inert, and at worst, toxic. A diet that is high in saturated and damaged fats, and low in the essential fatty acids, over a period of time is going to have adverse effects on the integrity of the cell membrane. Cholesterol will also accumulate around the membrane, covering many of the receptor sites for hormones such as insulin. Gradually the membrane will become more inert, and toxic conditions will build up within the cell.

    In this toxic, acidic environment enzyme systems will become âdisabledâ, they will lose their shape and their capacity to âholdâ nutrients which is essential for enzyme activity. The factory workers of the cell can no longer process energy or manufacture goods. Digestion and processing is not occurring.

    Reversal becomes a long process, requiring both detoxification and nutritional restoration at cell level. Furthermore, the body has its own biological clock for tissue maintenance, so it will not happen overnight, nor even in six months as we are talking about replacing old cells for new within the bodyâs designated time-frame. In six months the impact on the body may appear negligible, but in two years, the results may be tremendous. Always remember the phrase when you sit down to eat, âwhat you eat today, becomes the cells of tomorrow.â

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