Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheer for the Small Intestine

One rarely gives credit where credit is due when it comes to our marvelous digestion. After all, this is our fuel to power each and every cell, every moment, all day long.

Some digestion happens in the mouth, proteins and fats are digested mostly in the stomach, which also functions as a temporary reservoir. The rate of emptying the stomach will depend on the contents: a carbohydrate meal leaves the stomach in 2 to 3 hours, protein will remain a little longer and fatty meals remain the longest. These contents are called chyme when they leave the stomach for the duodenum, the top portion of the small intestines.

The pancreatic enzymes are excreted into the duodenum with a pH between 6 and 8, which brings the pH of the chyme to a level optimal for assimilation. The pancreatic secretions consist of water, mineral salts and a variety of enzymes. There are numerous enzymes each with specific functions to complete the digestive process of the variety of foods we consume each meal.

  • Amylase converts starches to sugars
  • Sucrase splits sugars into glucose and fructose
  • Maltase acts upon malt sugars
  • Lactase digests milk sugars
  • Lipase converts fats to fatty acids and glycerol with the assistance of bile salts from the liver and gall bladder
  • Peptidase converts peptides to amino acids
As the chyme enters the small intestine through the pyloric sphincter, it has begun a twisting, turning expedition of about 5 meters or 16 feet. It is almost like a carnival ride coiling through finger-like villi in slick tubes. They are under 1 cm in length and enclose in a network of blood and lymph capillaries. The walls of the villi consist of epithelial cells that absorb nutrients and, in some cases, complete the final stages of digestion. From here the nutrients are carried throughout the body in the blood.

What is left is a journey through the large intestine to decompose this stuff to “compost” material and elimination. Let’s give a big cheer for small intestine and it’s marvelous accomplishments.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Resolutions for Success

Most everyone is considering this time of year to begin change. Lose weight? Stop smoking? Get in shape? Are the top three, however, most of these resolutions are broken and set aside within 30 days. Is there anything one can do to improve their odds to success?

Pareto’s principle states that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, and 80% of the people do 20% of the work. So which group are you in? or what will you consciously choose today? Sometimes it isn’t what one does as much as it is doing something in the general direction of the goal. So when setting a goal, make a list of as many as 10 things one can do to make that goal more achievable. 

Let’s take a look at what one might put on their list:

Ten things to help me lose weight:
1.     Eat breakfast
2.     Drink 8+ ounces of water a few minutes before each meal
3.     Use a smaller plate
4.     Set my utensils down between bites
5.     Taste my food and enjoy each bite
6.     Count calories, carbohydrates and fat grams
7.     Take a walk after dinner to limit nibbling
8.     Prepare a little snack at night to curb the munchies
9.     Remove tempting foods from the cabinets
10. Be accountable to a family member or friend

Ten things to help me quit smoking:
1.     Check with the doctor on cessation programs
2.     Learn to do self hypnosis
3.     Don’t carry cigarettes, set them somewhere else
4.     Chew on a toothpick
5.     Learn to meditate and do so 15 minutes twice a day
6.     Call oneself a “non-smoker”
7.     Join a support group like “Smoker’s Anonymous”
8.     Take a multiple vitamin
9.     Drink water to flush the nicotine away
10. Look for alternative help, like homeopathic medicine

Ten things to get in shape:
1.     Set a reasonable goal with small goals
2.     Start slow so one doesn’t get “sore”
3.     Enlist a friend to work out or walk together
4.     Have a change of routine depending on weather or time limits
5.     Play lively music to get you moving
6.     Learn to meditate and do so 15 minutes twice a day
7.     Reward oneself on a weekly or bimonthly basis, such as going to see a movie or some other fun activity
8.     Put goals together, get in shape and shed 10 pounds
9.     Get up 15 minutes early for a pep talk and compliments
10. Visualize the body of your dreams: svelte, energetic and healthy

Many times, success comes not with doing everything right, but by doing something consistently. Even 80% of ones program will bring success, it just might take a little longer. Also, these don’t have to be all or nothing. If one “falls off the wagon” then regroup and begin again (before January of next year). It’s ok to forgive oneself, have a big sigh, nod your head in agreement, and start again. After all, these goals are lifestyle changes that will offer a higher quality of life, and that’s worth the effort.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hangover Help: Cleanse the Liver

The festivities are over, the decorations have come down, and yet many folks are dragging as they go into the New Year. There was too much sugar, including alcohol, too many indulgences, which includes loss of sleep or disrupted sleep. While many love this time of year, it takes it’s toll on the body.
One’s most challenged organ during this time is the liver: the body’s detoxification organ. It processes and clears out all the indiscretions that are tossed its way. So taking a little time and effort to give one’s liver some support can reap wonderful benefits, such as increased energy, vitality and well being.
There are several things that can be used to activate this process. There are numerous products available for a liver cleanse. The herb milk thistle, also known as silybum marianum, is a liver cleansing herb from the flowing plant of the daisy family. It is best combined with other herbs and nutrients to do a more thorough job. When one takes a product like this, slow is best. Occasionally one will feel nauseous, if so, reduce the amount one is taking at one time, or cut the dose in half and take twice as long to complete the process.
Certain foods are also very good for assisting the liver in its daily job. Beets are a great cleanser and delicious when baked. Trim the greens from the top and part of the tail, rub with oil and bake like one would a potato. When ready to serve, slice into the skin and peel it away before serving, season to taste. Another food that can be eaten is zucchini. According to Henry Bieler, MD, author of Food is Your Best Medicine, this vegetable helps to rebuild the liver. It can be eaten raw or cooked or juiced, as well as combined with other vegetables in a stirfry, steamed, or salad.
It is also important to keep the intestines working well, since the liver dumps the trash into the colon. There are herbs to help with constipation and using probiotics to fortify these organs is important too. Whatever you do, the New Year is a great time to cleanse away the old. Find out my favorite products to assist in this process.