1. Myth or Fact: Digestion takes place primarily in the stomach.
Answer: Myth. The majority or digestion takes place in the small intestine. The stomach is where food and enzymes are mixed around in stomach acid which many people also think digests food. The stomach acid activates enzymes which actually do the breaking down of food. When ready, the mixed food or chyme is then released into the small intestine, where more enzymes and bile salts secreted to complete digestion.
2. Myth or Fact: If you cut down on your food intake, you'll eventually shrink your stomach so you won't be as hungry.
Answer: Myth. Once you are an adult, your stomach pretty much remains the same size --unless you have surgery to intentionally make it smaller. Eating less won't shrink your stomach, but it can help to reset your "appetite thermostat" so you won't feel as hungry, and it may be easier to stick with your eating plan.
3. Myth or Fact: Thin people have naturally smaller stomachs than people who are heavy.
Answer: Myth. While it may seem hard to believe, the size of the stomach does not correlate with weight or weight control. People who are naturally thin can have the same size or even larger stomachs than people who battle their weight throughout a lifetime. Weight has nothing to do with the size of the stomach. In fact, even people who have had stomach-reducing surgeries, making their tummy no larger than a walnut, can override the small size and still gain weight.
4. Myth or Fact: Exercises like sit-ups or abdominal crunches can reduce the size of your stomach.
Answer: Myth. No exercise can change the size of an organ, but it can help burn the layers of fat that can accumulate on the outside of your body. Plus it can help tighten the muscles in the abdomen, the area of the body lying just south of the diaphragm, that houses the stomach and many other internal organs.
Interestingly, the part of your "belly fat" that can do you the most harm may actually be the fat you don't see. It resides in the "omentum," a kind of internal sheet that lies over and around your internal organs.
People who are very overweight often have a lot of fat between their organs internally. In fact, in some instances, the liver can become so packed with fat you can develop a form of hepatitis, and in extreme cases, it can stop functioning altogether. The good news: A healthy eating plan can not only help you shed the weight you can see, but also the internal fat layers you don't see.
5. Myth or Fact: Foods that contain insoluble fiber (which does not dissolve in water and cannot be digested) cause less gas and bloating than foods with soluble fiber (which does dissolve in water and can be digested).
Answer: Fact. Most folks are astounded to discover that what they perceived as a "gentler" form of fiber - the soluble kind found in foods like oat bran, beans, peas, and citrus fruits - can actually cause more gas and bloating than insoluble fiber, found in foods like whole-wheat bread, wheat cereals, cabbage, beets, and carrots. And the reason is that gas and bloating result from intestinal flora that is needed to digest soluble fiber. Since insoluble fiber is not digested at all - it goes right through you - there is no interaction with intestinal flora; consequently, no gas is formed. One caveat to keep in mind: While insoluble fiber won't give you gas, it can increase the frequency and size of bowel movements which may be beneficial for those suffering from constipation.
6. Myth or Fact: One way to reduce acid reflux is to lose as little as 2 to 3 pounds.
Answer: Fact. The less acid that flows back up into your esophagus, the fewer problems you will have clearing it. And believe it or not, losing just 2 pounds of weight from the abdominal area can make a difference - and pregnancy is about the best example of this. As the baby grows and pushes against the internal organs, heartburn increases; but once the baby is born and the pressure is relieved, the heartburn is, too. In much the same way, losing even a little bit of belly fat can provide similar relief. The really good news: most people lose weight in the belly area first, so you should see some positive results on your heartburn within a few weeks after starting a weight loss plan. Other ways to avoid heartburn are not eating a meal right before lying down or going to sleep. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid foods and beverages that can trigger reflux like alcohol, drinks with caffeine such as coffee and soft drinks or carbonated beverages, fruit juices, chocolate or spicy and fatty foods. Don't eat within two to three hours before bedtime. Stop smoking.
7. Myth or Fact: Eating before bed can make you gain weight faster than if you eat the same foods during the day.
Answer: Myth. Most experts agree that we gain weight when we take in more calories than we burn up. And while it seems logical that foods we eat during an active day will burn more quickly and more efficiently than foods we eat right before going to sleep. Weight gain is not based on a 24-hour clock. "It's the total amount you take in over a period of time compared to how much you burn that determines if you will gain weight.
Recent animal studies suggest that avoiding after-dinner snacks may help prevent weight gain. Eating at night may disrupt the body's circadian clock and alter hormones that control appetite and ultimately result in weight gain.
When we are fatigued or stressed, eating right before bedtime can make digestion more difficult and may cause more gas, bloating, and heartburn. There is a 'brain' in the gut (the enteric nervous system) that helps to make sure that food is moved through the digestive system at the right pace, in the right amount. When we are fatigued - like most of us are at the end of a busy day - that 'gut brain' is
fatigued as well. So there is a decrease in the number of contractions that move food through the system.
8. Myth or Fact: A 200-calorie snack of peanut butter and crackers is more likely to control your appetite than just eating 200 calories' worth of crackers.
Answer: Fact. The reason: Fats digest much slower than carbohydrates, and they remain in the stomach longer, which means we naturally feel full longer after eating a snack that contains at least some fat.
Additionally, simple carbohydrates like crackers, bread, or cookies elicit a quick rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, which subsequently drop just as quickly, causing dramatic shifts in both mood and appetite. In short, you find yourself edgy and hungry.
9. Myth or FACT: 80% of your immune system is located in your gastrointestinal tract.
Answer: Fact. Your gut is where the vast majority of your immune system lives. Poor digestive health means poor immune system function. Our western-style diet consists of too much fast food, too much sugar, too much red meat and too much processed food. As a result, our digestive systems are stressed and exhausted. When we have an exhausted digestive system, we also have an exhausted immune system. It’s no surprise that we also have a high rate of digestive disorders and bowel conditions, heart disease, a variety of allergies, inflammatory conditions, cancer, autoimmune diseases…etc! In light of this, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on your digestive system in order to have the greatest impact on your immune system? If our digestive tract is putting extra burden on our immune system (due to harmful bacteria or chronic inflammation), then how in the world can we expect it to effectively protect us from the common cold or flu at the same time? We need to change our diets, eat more vegetables and fruits, supplement with digestive enzymes, avoid processed food and sugar!
10. Myth or Fact: Beans cause everyone to make excess gas, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Answer: Myth ... sort of! Beans are high in a kind of sugar that requires a certain digestive enzymes to properly digest. Some people have more if it, some people less. Some people actually chew their food better and use the natural enzymes in the food to assist digestion. The less enzymes you have, the more gas that will be produced during digestion of beans. What can help: Studies show that products that add more of the enzymes needed to break down the sugar in beans as well as other traditionally gassy vegetables can help if taken before you eat.
Information adapted from an article, “9 Surprising Facts About Your Stomach” by Colette Bouchez.
Dr. Jared Newman is a Chiropractor and Internal Health Specialist at Newman chiropractic and Wellness in Encinitas. He has been trained and certified by the Loomis Institute of Enzyme Nutrition to recognize and analyze signs and symptoms of a patients’ problem. He uses that analysis to examine the body for mechanical and nutritional stressors that are a result of a compromised digestive system. He is able to help many people who have structural problems which cause pain and also help them obtain optimal internal health through enzyme supplementation, proper nutrition and digestion of the food they eat. www.NewmanChiroSD.com