From a Kampo point of view, the root cause of overweight and disease can come from your weakened intestines. Without training the intestines, any dieting might never be a success.
Scientists now know that the intestines’ roles are much greater than previously thought, and beyond just absorbing nutrients in and excreting wastes out. The majority of the immune cells gather in the intestines, and many of the hormones and neurotransmitters exist there as well. Also, there is a close relationship between weakened intestines and overweight.
Why do your intestines become weak and what’s the link to being overweight?
The main reason for weakened intestines in today’s world is the change in lifestyle and diet. Nowadays, you see all kinds of sweet foods, processed foods and chilled foods everywhere. More people consume more of these, compared to say 40 years ago. Sweet foods and processed foods contain ‘sugars’, ‘amino acids’, and ‘fatty acids’, which don’t require digestion as they are absorbed in the beginning part of the intestines. So the intestines don’t get exercise and become lazy. In addition, chilled foods slow the movements of the intestines too.
When the intestinal muscles are not exercised, they become weak; the blood circulation gets worse; and your metabolism is lowered. With a lowered metabolism, you burn fewer calories and losing weight becomes far more difficult.
So, how do you train your intestines and keep a higher metabolism?
Believe or not the right EATING is the training for the intestines. Here’s why! The intestines are long and strong muscles (so called smooth muscles) and start moving (exercising) dynamically when the foods reach them. Here is an interesting point: the daily energy consumption from the intestinal muscles’ exercises (movements) is far greater than body’s physical (so called structure muscles) movements. The right foods exercise your intestines to burn more calories.
A key point to “successful dieting” and “health” is “to train your intestines”.
Here are 7 points to train the intestines:
- Eat a balanced diet at regular times. You have heard of this before but it is difficult to do… The worst case scenario to weaken the intestines is eating sweets and snacks instead of meals whenever you want.
- Eat dietary fibre rich foods. It takes longer for dietary fibre rich foods to get digested, which means more training for the intestines. Include abundant cooked, warm fibre rich vegetables in your diets.
- Warm foods and drinks invigorate the intestines. Warm foods and drinks (at least at a room temperature) help invigorate the functions of the intestines, the blood circulation, activities of digestive enzymes and your immune system.
- Fermented foods improve the intestines’ functions. In order to make the intestines work well, it is important to have bacterial flora (good and bad bacteria) balanced within the intestines. By choosing more fermented foods containing yeasts and lactic acid bacteria, the intestines help fight off various diseases by keeping your immunity strong.
- Add more spices to your diets. Smells and flavour of spices invigorate the digestive functions and increase metabolism too. In addition to familiar spices, such as curry powder, cinnamon, and peppers; others, such as fresh ginger, garlic, wasabi, perilla leaves, green onions, and more, are great choices too.
- Chew well! Balance of 5 flavours! Chewing is one of the instinctive activities of human beings and can help prevent you from over eating. Furthermore, chewing signals productions of saliva and other digestive fluids that help the stomach and intestines start working well. Foods are largely divided into 5 flavours: sour, sweet, bitter, acrid/spicy and salty. Also remember to include 5 colours of foods on a table: blue(green), red, yellow, white and black. The point is to eat various kinds of food in balance and not in a hurry so that your intestines get their exercise.
- Good night sleeps keep the intestines function well. The intestines’ functions are controlled by the parasympathetic (branch of the autonomic) nervous system, which becomes activated by relaxation and a good night sleep. Also, it is very important that your stomach is empty when you go to bed.
Training the intestines is the best method for dieting and becoming more healthy. When the intestines work well, the blood circulation gets better, and the metabolism goes up. As a result, energy consumption goes up too.
Reference: Dr. Munetetsu Tei: “Train Your Intestines To Lose Weight And Become Healthy!”. Shufunotomo-sha, 2011.