Helpful Tips for Optimal Digestion

An Omnivore diet is our optimal diet.  This is how our ancestors ate and what we are adapted to eating -meat, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, a small amount of fruit and whole grains like quinoa & oat groats, nuts, seeds and healthy oils.

A vegetarian animal getting plenty potassium in fruits and vegetables, needs salt.  A carnivorous animal gets its salt from the 3% sodium found in the vegetarian animal that it eats.  The membranes of our cells, that make up our glands, organs and tissues, bring nutrients into the cell using a sodium potassium exchange pump.  Therefore, sodium and potassium need to be in balance. 


In winter an Inuit would be on a high sodium animal protein diet which would tell the kidneys that the weather is not sunny so his kidneys would activate vitamin D much more vigorously.


The Importance of the Ileocecal Valve and How to Eat in Season

If your skin is turning brown from the sun, you can eat a slight excess of potassium (fruits and vegetables); otherwise you should eat a slight excess of sodium (meats and fish) which ties in with the Asian medicine concept of yin and yang- warming and cooling.

Even though most Asians don’t have high calcium dairy products in their traditional diets, they generally have much lower incidences of dental cavities and osteoporosis than do Westerners who use dairy and who also eat a lot of fresh fruit, juices and salads even in winter.


The ileocecal valve is the valve that separates the small intestine from the large intestine, can become weak if a person is low in calcium for more than 5 days.  That’s when your “Good bacteria” become “Bad” meaning your beneficial bacterial flora grow out of control, coined Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), and yeast (Candida) joins the party.  The alkaline pH of the small intestine allows yeast to multiply profusely.

Absorption of calcium requires Vitamin D which is made by your skin when exposed to ultraviolet rays (UV) and then stored in an inactive form in your liver.  If you are out in the sun without sunblock, your skin can make enough Vitamin D.  Our kidneys convert this weak form of D into a much stronger form that can improve calcium absorption up to 1000 times.  In winter when we don’t get enough sun to make Vitamin D, this conversion is crucial for bone density. 


The kidneys oversee regulating calcium levels by activating enough D with the changes in seasons.  The smallest component of a substance is called an atom which can exist by itself or combine with more atoms to form a molecule.  Kidneys monitor electrically charged atoms (ions) in foods and beverages we eat to figure out which season it is and whether to convert the weak form of Vitamin D for calcium absorption.  If we are eating tropical fruits and salads in winter, the kidneys think it is summer and that we are getting lots of sun and therefore vitamin D and so they don’t activate D causing us to become deficient in calcium which then weakens the ileocecal (IC) valve.  A weak IC valve causes Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and depletes our bone density at the same time.

The kidney’s activation of Vitamin D is crucial to get calcium from the gut to the blood and it is Vitamin K that delivers calcium from the blood to the bone.  If you have bone density issues you need all the minerals including calcium, magnesium, boron, strontium, vitamin D3, essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA and vitamin K.  Keeping your body alkaline will help as well.


Further Digestive Support


Vitamin K is found in leafy greens like kale, spinach, collards, chard, dark green lettuces and water cress.  Cooking them slightly and salting them with Celtic or Himalayan sea salt will prevent ileocecal valve problems when you aren’t out in the sun and helps deliver calcium to the bones for optimal bone density.


Betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL) is needed as a supplement if people are not producing enough on their own to digest protein into amino acids, the building blocks of the body.  Gas, bloating and burping, ridges on the nails, low energy, poor immunity, unable to build muscle despite eating adequate protein and exercise, are signs of an HCL deficiency.

Digestive enzymes may also need to be supplemented if gas, bloating and / or digestive pain occurs after eating carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, pasta, fruit) or fats (oils, butter).  Digestive enzymes (amylase, protease, lipase) are produced by the pancreas and secreted into the upper intestine (duodenum) to help break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  As we age, our pancreases seem to get sluggish in producing and secreting enough enzymes which is why elderly people often have more burping, gas and bloating than younger people.  A Hydrochloric acid (HCL) deficiency is also very common in this population depleting protein digestion.



Probiotics such as Acidophilus, Bifidus or Saccharomyces keep bad bacteria and yeast in check. Herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, savoury and turmeric are useful for their anti-yeast and anti-inflammatory properties. Proper food combining is helpful by avoiding eating proteins with high starch foods at the same meal.  The body produces hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down protein and Amylase to break down carbohydrates and when eaten together, the enzymes effectively cancel each other out and the food ends up not being properly digested leading to fermentation, gas, bloating and cramps.

A good combination would be meat or fish with steamed or stir-fried low carbohydrate vegetables (leafy greens like chard, spinach, bok choy).  This diet is essential when Candida overgrowth has occurred in the small intestine and potentially throughout the body (systemic). Strengthen the ileocecal valve by eating foods in season, calcium supplementation and specific exercises. 

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