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Eat well, but also assimilate well

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By Anne-Marie Roy

Anne Marie Roy

If you have gas, constipation, nausea, bloating, heartburn or are tired after meals, it is a sign that your digestion is not going well. You need to improve your eating habits, your combinations or reduce your quantities. It is not necessarily the food that enters the mouth that nourishes our body, but the nutrients absorbed in the intestine.

Factors That Influence Our Digestion

Our environment

Tense conversations, fear, fatigue, anxiety, strong emotions abolish the secretion of gastric juices. Listening to TV or reading while eating are activities that make food difficult to digest. Therefore, relaxation and comfort are required during meals.


The digestion process starts in the mouth where saliva begins to digest sugars. In the process of chewing, the cell membranes of the plants are destroyed, allowing their enzymes to escape and digestion to begin. Therefore, poor chewing decreases the assimilation of food and makes us heavy, tired and produces gas.

Food temperature

Liquids and food should never be too hot or too cold, especially for babies and children. Heat creates acidity and weakens the stomach, while cold paralyzes it.

Digestive enzymes

Enzymes are used to digest our food (digestive enzymes) and to activate all metabolic processes (metabolic enzymes). Cooking destroys the digestive enzymes of raw food. The pancreas must then compensate for this shortage. The pancreas can then no longer put as much work into secreting its metabolic enzymes. These enzymes have detoxifying and restorative functions and keep our nervous system, organs and endocrine glands healthy.
Raw foods release their own digestive enzymes, so it is important that they are a large part of our diet.


Cooking not only destroys digestive enzymes, it also destroys some of the vitamins present in food. To minimize these losses during cooking, here are the basic rules: little water, little heat, little time, little contact with the air and little cutting.

Food combinations

It is more and more recognized, accepted and advised not to eat fruit with a meal. Fruit has a rapid digestion rate and when eaten with proteins, which are slower to digest, it begins to ferment and produce gas. People with a delicate digestive constitution should pay attention to food combinations.

The orthodox theory of food combinations is still controversial in the scientific community. Nevertheless, certain combinations of foods, especially cooked foods, are more likely to create fermentation or putrefaction. Milk-meat, protein-starch, fruit-vegetable, melon-other food, are combinations to watch out for.

Amount of fluid at mealtime

Drinking while eating dilutes the digestive enzymes. A small amount of lukewarm water (4 ounces or less) is acceptable. Ideally, liquids should be consumed 20 minutes or more before meals.

Amount of food

Eating too much of any food, no matter how raw or well combined, causes stress on the digestive system. Overeating is the primary cause of digestive problems. Scientific literature suggests that we stop eating when we are 2/3 full.

Variety at mealtime

Eating too much variety of foods at the same meal can disturb digestion.

Soaking and Sprouting

Soaking and sprouting nuts, seeds, grains and legumes deactivates enzyme inhibitors and renders sugars, fats and proteins in a more absorbable form. These sprouted and soaked foods have the advantage of being able to be eaten raw and are easier to digest since they have undergone pre-digestion. They can then be combined with each other without any problem, and even with fruits.


The North American diet tends to be too acidic; metabolic acidosis weakens the digestive system. Vegetables, sprouts, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, lemon juice, avocado and seasonings are some examples of good choices to decrease the acidity of the body.


Relaxing after a meal, not sleeping, helps digestion.


Some supplements, coffee, tobacco, alcohol and medications can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

Anne-Marie Roy is a dietitian-nutritionist, consultant, speaker and writer.
Tel: 514.725.2229
Tag: Digestion

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