Dr. Alexandra Shustina says that a specific way of eating mentioned by the Rambam can help with optimal health and weight loss. Full Story
Dr. Alexandra Shustina for COLlive
The holidays are over but the bloating and extra pounds are unfortunately still with us. Now is the time to detox from the heavy foods and large meals. How can we do this as we are back to the hectic and busy life routine?
The answer is by eating slowly and mindfully.
We often rush to eat something without giving our food the necessary few minutes and a bit of attention it needs. Eating on the run especially while stressed can make us gain weight without even eating more.
Digestion begins in our mouths. Our teeth mechanically break down food while our saliva breaks down starches. Have you ever noticed that if you chew bread for long enough it begins to taste sweet? That is because the starch is broken down into sugar. The mouth is a vital and powerful part of the digestive process.
During the time we are chewing the rest of the body is preparing for the food to enter the digestive tract. It starts secreting juicy enzymes to digest proteins and fats. Chewing adequately allows the time for the optimal amount of digestive enzymes to be available. It is no wonder that the Rambam said that chewing food well and slowly can neutralize unhealthy foods. Ideally, we should chew each bite at least 30 times.
If we eat fast, the food is not properly mechanically broken down by our teeth. The starches are not maximally digested by out saliva. The food goes into the stomach not fully prepared for the next step of digestion and the digestive enzymes have not been adequately secreted. The body cannot maximally extract the necessary nutrients and many nutrients are wasted. The body senses a lack and we need to eat more. We feel unsatisfied and still hungry. There is a lag between the time we eat and when we actually feel full. This is about twenty minutes. It is not uncommon for someone to be rushed to eat to feel stuffed and sick. When we take our time to eat, our bodies sense that we are full. We do not need anymore. We have maximally extracted the nutrients and we need. We feel happy and content.
Stressful eating can make us gain weight. There is a stress hormone called cortisol. It is secreted when we are physically or emotionally stressed. This hormone signals for food to be stored as fat. When we eat while stressed, we store the food as fat and do not use it as energy. We feel tired and gain weight. Being calm while eating is vital.
You may think it is easier said than done. How do we switch off that nasty hormone and feel energized after eating? We can take a few seconds before we start eating and focus on the food, appreciate the food, and say a bracha with mindfulness. This switches off the cortisol and allow for the optimal extraction of energy and nutrients from the food.
There were unfortunate times in Russia, when people were starving. During the second world, war food was really scarce. Many of the people had only tiny amounts of food which lasted longer than expected. The ones that survived had one thing in common. They ate their food very slowly. They were able to maximally extract the nutrients from the very small amounts of food they had.
There are many diet plans out there customized for weight loss and health optimization. They are individual. Some people do well with low carbohydrate diets, others with vegetarian, and some with high healthy fats. Although diet plans are individual, eating slowly and mindfully works well for all people to universally optimize digestion for optimal well-being natural weight loss.
I can almost guarantee that no matter what you eat, if you start eating slowly, chewing well, and paying attention to your meal, you feel better, lighter, and healthier. You will feel full and satiated with less food and that terrible feeling of being overfull and stuffed with come to an end. It’s not a fad diet but is a simple change that can provide a lifetime of positive results.
–Dr. Alexandra Shustina is a board certified Gastroenterologist and Internist who integrates conventional western medicine with holistic and natural methodologies. She is an expert in digestive health and speaks frequently at conferences about health and wellness with an emphasis on natural approaches and root cause therapy. She founded and runs a wellness center in Manhattan, the only Integrative Gastroenterology practice in the New York area. She has a particular interest in and a unique approach to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. She can be reached at wholegut.com
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