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You are what you eat


The old adage "you are what you eat" is founded in truth.  Our food provides the building blocks which form new cells.  Every cell, whether a liver cell, a red blood cell, or a heart cell, dies and is replaced repeatedly throughout our lifetime. The building blocks for this turnover are contained in the nutrients we eat.  So literally, "we are what we eat".  It sounds simple - eat healthy food in order to stay healthy.  However, this only works if we digest our food properly. 

Due to our busy lifestyles and the prevalence of nutrient-depleted foods, our digestive systems are required to work harder to keep us healthy.  The food we eat must be broken down into specific molecules to extract the correct nutrients.  These molecules, if digested properly, are absorbed into the blood and transported to cells throughout the body where they are used to fuel, repair, protect and stimulate processes as diverse as making antibodies or new skin cells, burning fat stores or improving memory.  Reduced efficiency or dysfunction in this pathway results in making food less useful, thus negatively affecting our overall health. 

Factors such as stress, infection, ageing, antibiotic use and a diet high in processed foods and low in fibre deplete the large bowel of "good" bacteria, the ones integral to complete digestion and the maintenance of immunity.  These healthful organisms kill or inhibit undesirable bacteria and yeasts. They also produce vitamins, detoxify the colon, regulate pH, aid the absorption of minerals and help prevent some cancers.  Inadequate colonisation results in the poor absorption of our food. This in turn results in gas, bloating, inflammation, difficult bowel movements and eventually poor health.

As increased stress levels and digestive upset are among the most common complaints, it is essential that we take steps to improve our digestion.  Eating nutrient-dense food, chewing our food well and replenishing the good bacteria in the gut on a daily basis are key elements.  In addition, taking a supplemental form of probiotics on an empty stomach in- between meals can result in a multitude of benefits. These include:  preventing harmful bacteria such as salmonella from colonizing, stimulating the production of antibodies and T-cells (protective immune cells) by 28%, helping recycle hormones such as estrogen, and maintaining a healthy intestinal lining for maximal nutrient absorption. 

Better choices and improved habits: it all leads to a healthier and happier body.   

-Penny Kendall-Reed, N.D

About Penny Kendall-Reed

Penny Kendall-Reed is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto. After graduating from McGill University with a B.Sc. in Neurobiology, she attended the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Here she earned her degree in Naturopathic Medicine in 1997 and received the Dr. Allen Tyler Award for Most Outstanding Clinician. As a specialist in metabolic disorders and author of a national best seller, The Naturopathic Diet (and the more comprehensive book The New Naturopathic Diet), and co-author of her newest book, The No Crave Diet, Penny Kendall-Reed travels throughout Canada and the United States lecturing on weight loss and weight related diseases. She has also co-authored the book Healing Arthritis, The Complete Doctor’s Healthy Back Bible and The Complete Doctor’s Stress Solution. She appears regularly on television, magazine and radio across Canada and the United States addressing various health issues. Presently, Penny Kendall-Reed is the director of natural therapies at the Urban Wellness Clinic in Toronto.