Optimizing Digestive System Function

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Consider the idea that maintaining an optimal digestive system involves more than eating a healthy diet — it's just as vital to know why, when and how to eat as what we eat can either promote healing or cause damage to our digestive system.

Using the rhythm of the Oriental medicine circadian clock, based on 2-hour increments in which each organ performs at its best, you can plan your meals and snacks to help your entire body run well.

The large intestine functions best from 5AM to 7AM, which makes this the ideal time to eliminate waste from the body and provide the colon enough energy to function at full force. Immediately upon waking up, drink a glass of lukewarm or room temperature water to rehydrate the intestinal organs.

The time of the stomach is from 7AM to 9AM. As one of the first digestive organs to receive food, this is a perfect time to enjoy a good breakfast. Warm, cooked food is advisable as opposed to dry cereals with cold milk or smoothies. Both the stomach and spleen thrive on food that is warm.

Cold causes contraction, which interferes with their ability to digest food properly. A simple omelet, oatmeal, or warm, moist porridge can make for a filling, hearty meal. Try not to get too complicated with heavy sauces, spices or oily, fried foods. If you indulge in coffee or warm tea, wait until after you eat so your digestive juices remain undiluted and full of power.

The time of the heart is from 11AM to 1PM. A healthy lunch can contain pungent and spicy foods as the energy of the heart hours can easily metabolize heat-producing foods. Consider swapping out cold salads and sandwiches for hot meals or warm soups.

Between the hours of 3PM and 5PM many people experience a slump in energy. This corresponds to the energy of the urinary bladder. During this time, the metabolic waste in the body is beginning to enter the kidneys for processing. To help initiate the kidney filtration process, enjoy a salty snack. A savory snack washed down with a warm herbal tea is a nice treat for your bladder and kidneys.

From 5PM to 7PM is the time of the kidneys. Kidney energy is about reserving and storing. The energy of the body is focusing inward as it begins to settle into the quietness of nighttime. A tranquil dinner focusing on whole grains, roasted meats, and legumes can satisfy the nutritional needs of the kidneys.

After dinner, keep calm and don't exert energy for the rest of the evening. This doesn't mean you have to forgo going out with friends but, it does mean it shouldn't be part of your regular routine. Parties and nighttime celebrations can be nurturing and joyful experiences, and they have their proper place.

Striving to eat in tempo with this circadian clock provides a structure for the whole day and helps to harmonize other aspects of your life.

Call to schedule an appointment today and learn more about how you can give your digestive health a tune up!

Karen Sale