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  • Writer's pictureKari Wetherill

The 3 Phases of Your Digestive System

"The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life." - B.K.S. Lyengar

Not only does the Earth have its seasons, but the entire universe moves in rhythms and cycles. Your body is no different. There is a daily cycle that it moves through in order to maintain balance and efficiency. If you want to improve your digestive health and optimize your vitality, you will want to become aware of this rhythm and learn how to move with it!


Elimination - Digestion - Assimilation


The 24 hour day moves the body’s digestive system through these 3 phases. If you want to optimize your vitality then you want to have an efficient digestive system. A digestive system which is overburdened by too many tasks is expending valuable energy.


Elimination

During this phase your body is detoxing. This means that it is busy eliminating anything that creates a burden and is otherwise unnecessary or harmful to the body. Toxins, poisons, bacteria, chemicals and merely byproducts of assimilation are all being actively removed through the digestive tract and circulatory system.


How can you best assist the body through the elimination phase?

Withhold from adding to the burden by fasting. Consume only water, and lots of it! When your body is flushing out toxins it requires hydration, so put your focus into flushing out these otherwise harmful and overburdening elements!


Common pitfalls:

Many people mistake the body’s natural detox symptoms for the need to eat. However, when you eat during the elimination phase, you are now asking the body to stop the detoxification process so that it can move on to digestion. This can be misleading because the detox symptoms will cease, which will temporarily cause you to feel better. This is a false interpretation of your body’s needs and, in having consumed anything other than water the body was unable to unburden itself (this goes for tea and caffeine as well).


Digestion

This is your eating window! The body has done its detoxing for the day and is now primed to get to work on breaking down the day’s nourishment. The moment you’ve been waiting for is here! It’s time to break the fast with breakfast! Digestion is the most energy consuming task that your body undertakes so your body will thank you when you only make it digest during its peak window of activity.


How can you best assist the body through the digestion phase?

Endeavor to eat your food in order of how it digests. It is ideal to begin with foods that are easier to digest and, as you progress through the day, move on to foods requiring more work. The reason for this is the more difficult a food is to digest, the longer it will take the body to break it down as it slowly travels through the digestive system. If you eat something that digests really quickly after eating a food which is slower to digest, you will create a traffic jam and digestive discomfort will ensue. A general rule of thumb would be to begin with foods which are less dense and have higher water content and move on to more dense foods throughout the day.


Common pitfalls:

Eating a fatty breakfast. Hands down this will bog you down. The worst thing you can do is begin the day with a heavy meal. Once this occurs, your digestive system will be slow all day and any energy reserves you had when you woke up will be spent on processing this burden.


Assimilation

Now that the body has received its nourishment for the day, it is now ready to process the nutrients! During the assimilation phase, the body is busy sorting the nutrients from the toxins and assimilating that which is helpful to it. During this phase, the body is also readying the toxins for the upcoming elimination phase.


How can you best assist the body through the assimilation phase?

You don’t have to do anything! All you have to do is stay out of the way and let your brilliant body do what it does best and nourish you!


Common pitfalls:

The late night snack. It begs repeating that, whenever you consume something other than water, you are now asking your body to stop what it’s doing and digest. Not only does this mean that you will be assimilating less nutrients as your body must stop this process, but the food that you are now putting into it will not be digested as efficiently as if you’d eaten it during the digestion window. Not to mention the next day’s burden of excess toxins that were not able to be properly prepared for the upcoming elimination phase.


Now, what are the windows for these phases?

Every body has its own unique timing and needs which vary greatly depending on many factors, but your sleep schedule is going to have the greatest impact. Generally speaking, for someone who wakes up at 6 am, the phases are as follows:


4 am - 12 pm: Elimination

12 pm - 8 pm: Digestion

8 pm - 4 am: Assimilation


Even if you share waking up at 6 am, you may have to adjust, especially as you get used to the routine of following your body’s natural rhythm. So it’s up to you to experiment and experience! Pay attention to how your body feels when you wake up and as you progress through the day. Take note of how your body feels each time you eat and adjust accordingly. And be gentle with yourself. If you mess up and get in your body’s way, your body will forgive you! Do your best and watch what happens when you start to dance with the rhythm of your body.


When you begin to move with your body’s natural cycles, you will discover that you have a life partner which is most eager to bring you into optimized vitality!

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