Do you warm your digestive system before eating?

Whenever I travel, I try to learn something new about the place I’m visiting, and about health and wellness, too.

Whether it’s experiencing the terrain with an engaging hike or walk in nature, or observing and eating the local flora and fauna, learning about the natural environment keeps me fully engaged with the planet I’m living on, and the body I’m living in.

Recently, I traveled with my family to Florida and visited Everglades National Park. We took a fun airboat ride and then watched a Wildlife Nature show where we learned a little bit about alligators and crocodiles.

These massive cold-blooded dinosaur-like reptiles have been inhabiting the planet for over 37 million years. They are survivors!

Not only are they perfectly designed, sleek and beautiful (from a distance, of course), they have some instinctive habits to ensure their survival.

The habit that fascinated me the most was how they absolutely must warm up their bodies to digest their food.

Apparently, gators and crocs, since they are cold-blooded, need to heat up their bodies to a specific degree to help them digest food. If they don’t warm up their system, they will get very sick.

To do this, the creatures literally lie still on the land or float on the top of the water exposing their back to the sun for up to 17 hours per day. The skin on their back acts as a solar panel that generates the heat they need for their digestive system to function optimally.

Pablo A. Garcia, integrative nutrition health coach

That was very interesting to me for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, as a warm-blooded creature, I do NOT have to sit in the sun to warm up my body to eat.

My body is already warm.

But, secondly and more importantly, even though we humans are warm-blooded, we can also suffer and feel sick if our digestive system gets too cold.

Many of my hypothyroid clients, experience this because their body runs colder than it’s designed to, and that inhibits their ability to fully process food.

Beyond people that are struggling with thyroid conditions, ANYONE can suffer from a cold digestive fire.

Some symptoms of a digestive system that is too cold includes:

  • Inability to digest/absorb food
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating/gas/distention
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain

Even though we are warm blooded, humans still need to stoke our digestive fire to absorb nutrition from the food we eat.

Below are three things you can do right now to warm your digestive system.

Emphasize Cooked Food

We need a balance of both raw and cooked foods.

If you are eating mostly raw foods or cold foods, and you do NOT have a strong digestive fire, you can weaken and/or damage your digestive terrain.

Warming your food with fire/heat, releases nutrients into easier to digest and more absorbable particles.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), that has been around for thousands of years, recommends eating a balance of both warming and cooling foods, with an emphasis on eating mostly cooked foods for optimum health.

You can find a good balance of both cooked and raw foods on my website here: Delicious Recipes

Use Herbs and Spices

Another easy way to stoke your digestive fire is by using warming herbs and spices.

These aromatic additions not only enhance the flavor of your meals, herbs and spices stimulate digestion and increase circulation to the gut.

Rosemary, oregano, garlic, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, allspice, cayenne and of course, ginger are good examples.

According to ancient food lore, The Buddha would eat no meal that did NOT contain a bit of ginger.

The wise sage understood how important warming his digestive fire was to gaining the most nutrients from his food without from suffering digestive distress.

Chew Your Food

I know I sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s so simple and true, and too often neglected.

It’s easy to gulp down food before fully masticating it first.

I cover that more in depth here: Take Human Bites

Chewing warms food in your mouth, and combines it with digestive enzymes needed to absorb nutrients.

It also starts the process of releasing other enzymes and acids further down the pipe in your stomach and gut.

Do NOT neglect the simple act of chewing your food before you swallow.

If you want a good giggle, watch this OLD video of me and Cookie Monster showing you why it’s imperative to chew food if you are human:

Take a lesson from cookie monster, and from the alligators and crocodiles that have been here for millions of years, and remember to support your digestive system.

Hopefully, that will help us survive 37 million years on this planet, too.

BTW – If you want to learn how to stay healthy and happy while you travel, learn more about that here:

The Best Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling.