How does modern cuisine (rich sides, tons of poor-quality meats, salt, and sugar) wreak havoc on our stomachs and digestive system?

In our fast-paced society, modern cuisine makes eating meals easy and convenient.  However, easy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.  In fact, it could be doing more harm than good.  There are many foods that can wreak havoc on your health.  Processed foods are a major culprit, as they are responsible for weakening your immune system and causing inflammation.  They also can feed cancer cells and cause metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.  Symptoms can start out as minor stomach aches, but left unchecked, can ultimately lead to IBS, ulcers, and colon cancer.

What are some specific foods that are particularly problematic?

Milk and dairy products are acid forming and mucous producing.  Dairy can increase frequency of colds, the flu, and ear infections in children.  Pasteurizing any foods can destroy enzymes and reduce the vitamin content by over fifty percent.  Homogenized milk changes the fat globules into smaller molecules, which allows them to cross over into the blood stream and can contribute to the development of food sensitivities.  Some studies indicate that these modified fat globules may lead to hardening of the arteries.

In general, grains are difficult to digest.  And to make matters worse, the gluten content in grains has increased over time. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.  There are a multitude of symptoms that can be caused by gluten sensitivity, ranging from digestive issues to mental health.  Gluten’s effect on the gut causes oxidation of the intestinal cells, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome and malabsorption of nutrients.  Antibodies against gluten have also been known to cause heart disease and cancer, as well as trigger autoimmune diseases in the body.  Corn (a grain, not a vegetable) is also problematic because it contains cellulose, which is a fiber that humans do not have the proper enzymes to break down.

Caffeine and alcohol relax the esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for keeping stomach acid in the stomach.  This may lead to heartburn or acid reflux.  Caffeine also acts as a diuretic and can cause dehydration.  Alcohol can inflame the stomach lining, impairing certain enzymes and preventing nutrients from being absorbed.

Foods that aid digestion

Cultured or fermented foods are rich in enzymes and microorganisms needed for healthy gut function.   Kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods help with digestion and proper elimination.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and the nutrients your body needs in order to perform proper bodily functions.  They can also increase your energy, improve mental clarity, and help you maintain a healthy weight.  In addition, ginger can help relieve nausea, vomiting, gas, and loss of appetite.  Garlic has antiviral and antimicrobial properties that protect gut immunity.  Cumin may help to reduce heartburn.  Other beneficial herbs and spices include oregano, black pepper, cardamom, thyme and sage.