Want to create some virtuous circles? What that means and 3 unusual ways to do it...

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I’m still hot on the subject of digestion.

Besides making sure your body produces enough stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes, there are other areas that affect--and are affected by--the health of your digestion. (Click here if you need a refresher on how your digestions works.)

For optimal digestion you want to be balanced in the three more areas that I’ve listed below. If you find you aren't (which is fairly common), I’ve included some suggestions to try.

Also know that optimizing your digestion per the protocols in my last post can help bring these areas back into balance, too. That’s what I mean by creating virtuous circles: These areas boost your digestion which boosts your health in these three areas and so on and so on.

It's important to assess yourself based on the self-test markers. You can then check to see if you have any of the common symptoms associated with that imbalance. Remember that symptoms can have a wide variety of causes, so you don't want to self diagnose based on them.

As for the self-tests, you may have the numbers for the first two from your latest doctor's visit. If not--or if you want to check your progress--you can test them on your own. The last one requires pH testing strips. (Click here for a PDF about buying testing equipment and tips for use.)

Three areas that can affect—and be affected by—your digestion

Electrolyte levels

Your electrolyte levels are primarily made up of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphates, and sulfates. These electrically charged minerals are essential for cell communication in your body.

Self-test marker: Your blood pressure

  • Electrolyte Deficiency < 112/74

  • Electrolyte Balance 112/74 - 130/87

  • Electrolyte Excess > 130/87

Electrolyte deficiency symptoms

  • Low energy

  • Brain unable to function at its full potential

  • Depression, fatigue, insomnia, and muscle cramps (including menstrual ones)

  • Body turns to glucose to boost energy--leads to uncontrollable cravings for sugar and starchy foods and body fat storage

    If you have an electrolyte deficiency, try:

Liberally using unrefined salt (such as sea salt) on your food

Drinking mineral water instead of plain

Avoid drinking too much water in general, as it can flush away the electrolytes you have

Excess electrolyte symptoms

  • Blood may be thick and sluggish; associated with hypertension and cardiovascular disease

  • Body fat storage, due to overburdened kidneys storing toxic material in fat cells

If you have an electrolyte excess, try:

Drinking more water than you normally do


Metabolic inflexibility

Ideally your body can use either glucose or fats for energy. Being able to cycle back and forth between the two sources is commonly referred to as being metabolically flexible. But sometimes your body gets stuck in one mode.

Self-test marker: Your fasting blood glucose levels

  • Carb Burner Imbalance Glucose < 75

  • Metabolic Balance Glucose = 75-95

  • Fat Burner Imbalance Glucose > 95

Fat-burner (meaning your body prefers fat for energy)

  • Body fat storage because you have to convert the carbs you eat into fat before you can use them

  • High cholesterol, high triglycerides, and a high fasting glucose level can indicate that you’re not processing glucose effectively.

If you're primarily a fat burner, try:

Adding more vegetables to your diet

This is actually not a bad state to be in, but you don't want to have the flexibility to effectively burn carbs, too. Doing the other protocols to optimize your digestion should help with this imbalance

Carb-burner (meaning your body prefers glucose for energy--this is common with the standard american diet)

  • Insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic diseases can indicate that you're not processing fat effectively

  • Body fat storage due to increased insulin

  • Low energy, irritability, and very strong cravings when you try to reduce carb intake

If you're primarily a carb burner, try:

Eliminating or severely reducing sugar, even honey and maple syrup.

Substituting starchy vegetables and nuts for your sugar cravings

Doing the other protocols to optimize your digestion should help with this imbalance


Anabolic or catabolic state

Like metabolic flexibility, ideally you'll cycle back and forth between the catabolic state during the day (when you break down parts of your body for energy) and the anabolic state at night (when you repair and recycle). This is only a problem one state can begin to dominate.

Self-test marker: Your urine and saliva pH levels

  • Anabolic Imbalance Urine pH > 6.3 Saliva pH < 6.6

  • Anabolic / Catabolic Balance 6.5 (both)

  • Catabolic Imbalance Urine pH < 6.1 Saliva pH > 6.9

Anabolic state

  • Low energy due to impaired ability to break down tissue and get rid of junk

  • Body fat storage, due to overburdened kidneys storing toxic material in fat cells

  • Constipation from water being sent to your kidneys rather than bowels

  • Peeing frequently and/or large volumes from excess water being sent to kidneys

If you're primarily in an anabolic state, try:

Eating more lightly cooked (or raw) vegetables

Drinking more water (if you have an Electrolyte Deficiency, make it mineral water or add a dash of unrefined salt to it)

Catabolic state

  • Low metabolism from burning up too much muscle

  • Body fat storage, due to lower metabolic rate

  • Insomnia because your body is in go-go-go mode--if you do sleep, it's common to wake up feeling exhausted

If you're primarily in a catabolic state, try:

Eating more protein

Cutting back on caffeine. Don't drink any after 2 p.m.


Remember that you’re creating virtuous circles here (instead of vicious ones). As your digestion improves, most likely your self-test markers will, too. And as you follow the tips for any of the above areas that may be problematic for you, your digestion will be able to heal, as well.

If you’re only going to do one thing after reading this today, do this:
EAT REAL FOOD.
This is more important than any other advice.

Your digestion is complex and unique—and important! If you find you’re still struggling with it, please reach out to me for help.

Wishing you wonderfulness!