The importance of digestion for optimal results

The importance of digestion for optimal results

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Most people know that nutrition is an absolute cornerstone for building a good physical. In the gym you regularly hear the saying: training is 20%, nutrition is 80%, or vice versa (how important nutrition is considered is inversely proportional to the speaker's fat percentage, it seems). Few people hear about the factor of rest and sleep. I can already hear you thinking: "No, not yet another article about sleep and stress". Correct, this will not be an article about these topics, but about your digestion.

We can have a long discussion about which factor is most important for achieving your dream physics. Nutrition? True, without eating well you will never be able to lose or gain weight; but without the interaction with the rest, you can eat as much protein as you want, you will not build, or at least not much muscle mass.

What about training? You can eat what you want and sleep what you want, but without the right stimulus (which I have already devoted quite a few articles to) the nutrients will not be used for building muscle mass. Or sleep? Sleep what you want, your biceps will not grow without training and nutrition. We could also discuss supplements and even support, but the fact remains that the interplay between all these factors ultimately determines what the end result will be.

Digestion and absorption

However, what I want to talk about today is not yet in this list, namely: digestion. Something that actually falls under the heading of nutrition.

Not everyone who is involved in this sport keeps their nutrition tidy and / or tracks their macros, so if you belong to the group that does this; Proud.

But, have you ever thought further? It doesn't matter much or even what you put in your mouth if it isn't digested. Nutrient absorption occurs almost exceptionally in the intestine. Everything that is still in the stomach or in the intestine has zero effect on the body. You can swallow poison, but it will only have an effect if it is absorbed by the intestinal cells, among others. Water only provides hydration when it is absorbed; Proteins can only provide muscle growth if they somehow end up swallowing food when amino acids enter the blood and are transported to the liver. Carbohydrates should be broken down from a bite of potato or bread into sugars and fats into glycerol and fatty acids.

Without taking too much of a sidetrack, I would like to briefly tell you how efficient this process is. See this. ? A tennis ball is about 100 times the size of that point. A glucose molecule is 1 million times smaller than a point. If you inflated a glucose molecule to the size of a point, a point would be about 100 times the size of a bowling ball.

Let it sink in for a moment that the chewing food and then kneading the esophagus, stomach and intestine, using stomach acid, enzymes and bile food, must break down to this size before it is absorbed.


Preparing for food

When we eat, we use almost all of our senses to start up our digestive system and prepare for the food to come; smell, taste, receptors in the mouth, on the tongue and in the throat and the movements of your jaw give your body the signal that food is coming. In fact, research has shown that hearing sound like a bell before eating can start the digestion process. A very important signal in this process is the stretching of the stomach; receptors register this and send a signal to the brain, which then releases the hormone gastrin; this hormone tells your stomach to start to release digestive juices.

We haven't even talked about how complex the urge to eat can be and how it is affected by all kinds of factors and hormones, but that's a completely different story.

Your stomach will then contract and relax vigorously, to mix the food with these juices, so that digestion runs as optimally as possible.

Complaints and inconveniences

However efficient this may be, it can sometimes be a bit faltering, which can lead to all kinds of complaints and discomforts, such as bloating, heartburn, constipation, flatulence, or the feeling that you have to squeeze bricks when you go to the toilet. goes.

Many of these complaints start with the stomach; when someone suffers from heartburn, the first thing we do or what a doctor advises is to take antacids. Many people do not realize that too little stomach acid can just as well lead to these complaints, because the sphincter of the esophagus does not close properly if the pH value is too high. Further inhibiting stomach acid production will only mask, not solve, the problem in this case. In addition, (sufficiently strong) stomach acid is of absolute importance in the digestion of proteins, among other things, and in addition as protection against bacteria. In addition, insufficient gastric acid production in the literature is also associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and a reduced absorption of, for example, vitamin B12. Low vitamin B12 absorption in turn has associations with an increased risk of Alzheimer's; Of course, I don't mention all this to create panic, but only to indicate that sufficient stomach acid is important not only for digestion and absorption of food, but also for all kinds of other health effects.

Signs of too little stomach acid

Because we are dealing with bodies and everyone reacts differently and in addition a complaint for person A for person B is just an inconvenience and person C shrugs his shoulders for this, it is very difficult to name or indicate exactly when you should have little stomach acid and when not. Heartburn does not always have to be the case. However, if you are bothered by one or more of the points below, there may be gains to be made on this subject.

Rosacea, decreased appetite, stomach pain, undigested food in the stool, nausea after taking supplements, bloating after a meal, belching or flatulence within 1 hour after a meal, decreased appetite for meat, brittle nails and bad breath symptoms.


How do we tackle this problem?

If you recognize yourself in several of these complaints, it might be interesting to delve further into them.

Obviously there may be more to it, but a solution could be very simple. For example, swallowing Digestive Enzymes can do a lot of good with your meals and / or swallow betaine HCL. Following the directions on the package is the best advice.

In addition, there are also easy steps that you can take yourself; Consider, for example, chewing your food. I do not mean that you tear off a piece of bread, in a reflex move your jaws up and down half a time before inhaling your bite, but really chew consciously. Count the number of chews per bite (until the food is liquid), taste what you have in your mouth, be aware of what you eat (this is a very good tip anyway for several reasons). Consciously take a few breaths between bites. In addition, it may be wise to take a closer look at your stress. You can also safely add salt and potassium to your meals; good for the taste and also important for the production of heartburn (do not overdo it and if you have kidney problems, for example, always follow the advice of your doctor). Finally, drinking ginger or mint tea can help.

However, it is absolutely advisable to take these digestive problems seriously, not only for the short-term discomforts, but also for your longer-term progression and especially because of your long-term health!

This blog is written by

Jan Willem van der Klis

"My focus is on obtaining and disseminating the best possible knowledge to optimize training and nutrition"

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