Stomach and Raw Foods
The stomach is a bean-shaped organ, which is where the food arrives first. It has a very acidic environment because of gastric acid production and secretion. When the acid combines with digestive enzymes, large and small molecules can be broken down so they can be absorbed from the small intestine. The human stomach produces and secretes 2 to 3 liters of gastric acid per day. Secretion levels are highest in the evening. The stomach can expand to hold 2 to 3 liters of food. It lies between the esophagus and the first part of the small intestine on the left side of the abdomen.
Diseases of the Stomach
- Dyspepsia – pain in the upper abdomen. Can be caused by many things, most commonly smoking and diet although it can come from more serious causes such as cancer or peptic ulcer. Some medications can also cause it.
- Peptic ulcer – an ulcer of the gastrointestinal tract. Most are caused by Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium. They can be caused by other things such as drugs like aspirin. They are usually found in the duodenum rather than in the stomach although they have traditionally been called stomach ulcers.
- Stomach cancer – more common in Asiatic cultures than others.
- Gastroparesis – delayed gastric emptying. Food remains in the stomach longer than usual. Typically, the gastric nerve has been damaged. Can occur in patients who have had type 2 diabetes for a long period of time.
- GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is abnormal reflux in the esophagus. Caused typically by permanent changes in the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach. Heartburn is the major symptom.
As with most ailments of the digestive system, those having to do with the stomach are usually associated with life style and dietary patterns. Because most people ingest a diet of over-prepared, over-processed foods, the enzymes required to keep the digestive system healthy are not available. They have been cooked or processed out of them. Many people who practice the lifestyles that lead to fast foods and quick-to-prepare meals for the table at home also live frantic and harried lives. All of this adds up to the increase in digestive problems so common to the 21st century.
Every year a new antacid comes on the market. The old tried-and-true Tums still sells and makes its owner wealthy every year. GERD has become a very common diagnosis. The permanent changes in the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach come about because of the constant disruption of the digestive process. Eventually, it becomes chronic, and medical intervention is required.
The digestive system does more than digest food–it seems to act almost as a second brain. We only have to think about food, let alone see it, smell it, and taste it for the digestive tract to start preparing the right juices to digest the meal. It's not just what you eat that counts; what you think about and how you feel while you eat is also important.
The key to keeping the digestive system healthy is to eat the right foods. Knowing you’re eating the right things will improve how you feel about the food and will be beneficial for your digestive tract. However, you prepare them is also important. Digestive enzymes are produced at different stages. If you don't produce enough to digest the food, you are likely to get indigestion, bloating, and wind.
Some health-promoting enzymes are found in foods such as papaya, pineapple, sauerkraut, mushrooms, rice, grapes, cabbage, banana, and apples.
Mary Valiant, 53, was a talented writer who had spent years in the corporate world making enough money to retire and become a freelancer. It took a year or so to get herself established so that she had enough writing projects to keep her busy. However, once she got her website up and had completed a few freelance projects, she was turning down jobs. Life was good. Except for one thing. Everything she ate gave her an uneasy feeling in her upper abdomen, and she was consuming bottle after bottle of Tums to get through the day and to be able to sleep at night.
She became friends online with one of her repeat clients and before long began to share her digestive problems. The friend happened to be eating a raw foods diet and couldn't say enough good things about the way she felt and she encouraged Mary to try it. Mary had no idea what to do with her symptoms except eat Tums, so she worked out a raw foods diet.
For breakfast, she ate unprocessed & sprouted whole grain with nut milk. For lunch, she had a salad made of a wide variety of fresh vegetables; and for dinner, she made a cold soup of blended tomatoes, fresh broccoli, green peas, and shredded carrots. She kept a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in her refrigerator for mid-meal pick-me-ups.
Switching from her previous diet, which had amounted mostly to fast food grabbed on a drive-through or prepared frozen meals she could microwave in a hurry, was not easy and took some discipline. However, she was motivated by the pain in her upper abdomen and the need to keep consuming Tums, which she knew was not good. It took about two weeks before she had changed her diet from almost no raw foods to 75% raw foods. The pain in her abdomen began to go away about a week into the new diet. In addition, Mary felt better than she had in ages! She had more energy, and her outlook on life was much more positive. She and the client who steered her in this direction are fast friends for life.
By TTS Cofounder Botanical Chef Omid Jaffari