How Well Do You Digest?
Start embracing your instincts.
Published: March 9, 2013
Heal the pain of chronic inflammation.
After years of coping with pain caused by inflammation, I thought to myself, enough is enough! I decided to give everything I had to healing. I remember the moment clearly: I was sick for the fourth time in a month with symptoms of severe food poisoning. My husband brought me some water; he ran his hand over my hair and gently said, “Julie, when are you going to do what it takes to get to the bottom of these issues?”
My book Meals That Heal Inflammation is the culmination of my own path to healing. I have had a chance to explore a world of nutritional theory. After studying radically different opinions, I have learned that there is no single perfect healing diet. Instead, you must examine what works for you, within you. I feel that if you tune in to what your body needs, then you will be capable of finding the power to heal. It takes commitment to create each meal in a way that will repair and replenish every cell in your body.
I understand that it takes courage to challenge our conventional Western diet. Many families and friends show their affection by sharing a meal, and it can be hard to convince them that healthy food can taste great. When you embrace your instinct to eat fulfilling whole foods, you’ll start to prefer the boundless energy and fluid motion that they can give you.
Compared to the few minutes of taste-bud exhilaration, a healthy pain-free body is worth the minor sacrifice of your favorite junk food snack. It comes down to long-term happiness over short-term pleasure. The fun begins when your brain and body are free of the restrictions caused by your ailments. If you could return to the state of wellness you had as a child, you would probably return to laughing a hundred times a day.
You most likely don’t fuel your car the way you fuel yourself. You wouldn’t consider giving your car extra-rich oil for a treat, saying, “I know it might block up the engine, but it needs a naughty treat once in a while.” Do you buy everything your car or pet needs to stay well, but put off feeling healthy yourself until another day? It’s common to think that nutritious food is too expensive. In reality, it’s likely you can afford to eat the best organic gourmet meals if you choose to cut back on the habits that don’t nourish you.
More than 110 million people in North America have digestive problems. If you are one of those people, you may tolerate the symptoms because you tend to think the discomfort will pass. However, when a digestive problem becomes chronic and serious, it can wreak havoc in the entire body. I strongly feel that fixing the gut can help all chronic health problems. The health of your gut determines which nutrients are absorbed and which toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. Poor digestion is found to be the root cause in many diseases, ranging from allergies to arthritis, and acne to autoimmune disorders, because the gut plays a large role in our immune system.
The paper-thin intestinal lining protects your entire body from the toxic environment in your gut. Imagine your body as a fortress that’s separated from the rest of the world by an enormous winding wall (your intestinal lining). If any area of this lining barrier is damaged, your local defenses are weakened and the rest of your immune system is warned that there’s an exposed area. Your gut will become inflamed in that area, and your body will attempt to repair the damage. Immune cells surrounding the damaged tissue remain hypersensitive to foreign substances to prevent your blood from being poisoned.
Every cell in your body contributes to immune protection. Each cell has the ability to send an SOS message and warn immune guards that an invader is in their midst. You want to make sure that there are no false alarms—that each time your immune guards are pulled into action, they are eliminating a real intruder and not a harmless substance.
Immune defense requires a lot of resources: energy, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. If you are always fighting, you divert your body’s resources from other functions such as metabolism, growth, and repair. When there’s constant inflammation raging in your tissues, you literally deplete yourself, and your immune system is unable to regulate itself. A state of chronic, lowgrade systemic inflammation develops, and eventually a name (for example, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, clinical depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, or cancer) can be given to the definable set of symptoms you begin to show. Canker sores in your mouth and ulcers in your stomach and small intestines are signs of a damaged gastrointestinal lining. Polyps are a sign that when your body attempted to heal this damaged tissue, its healing mechanisms weren’t well regulated. These are early signs of an immune system that is depleted, imbalanced, and in need of your attention.
Julie Daniluk, RHN, best-selling author of Meals That Heal Inflammation (Hay House), has helped thousands of people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.