Outward Impatience & Internal Digestion
by David Briscoe
“If you have no patience, you’ll become a patient.” – Herman Aihara
You’ve probably noticed: it’s become a very impatient world. Individually and collectively, patience seems to be fading. On the road, in traffic, in stores, in relationships, in politics, international relations, finances, waiting in line, fast food, fast medicine, etc., lack of patience is expressed in many ways. There can be many explanations and opinions as to why this is so.
I’d like to present one that is not commonly considered, if at all: we’ve become impatient at the physiological level; and very specifically we’ve become digestively impatient. The human digestive system has a very natural and gradual way for food to be digested, before it is absorbed into the blood and then assimilated by our cells. Let’s look at carbohydrate, for example. The way the body works is that carbohydrate digestion is supposed to begin in the mouth; that is, when the carbohydrate we are eating is the complex kind, polysaccharide. Complex carbohydrate is meant to be chewed, mixed with saliva, and through the action of the enzyme, salivary amylase, begins to be broken down to disaccharide, a simpler form of carbohydrate.
If you’ve ever chewed brown rice really well, you noticed that it starts to taste sweet. You are tasting the complex carbohydrate in the brown rice being slowly converted to simpler carbohydrate, preparing it for the next stage of digestion. The body is smart. It likes to digest slowly and patiently. Next, the complex carbohydrate that has been chewed is swallowed and goes down to the stomach. No further digestion of the carbohydrate takes place in the stomach due to stomach acid that stops the action of the salivary amylase. The chewed carbohydrate moves from the stomach to the duodenum, the passageway between the stomach and small intestine, where is stimulates the secretion of pancreatic amylase from the pancreas, further breaking down the complex carbohydrate that wasn’t broken down through chewing. This disaccharide now enters the small intestine where the enzymes lactase, sucrase and maltase, break it down into monosaccharide, single sugars, that can then be absorbed through the small intestine and released into the blood.
This is a gradual and natural process, relying on digestive patience. It’s how the body wants to digest carbohydrate, if given the chance to do it right. In today’s world the carbohydrate most widely consumed is not complex carbohydrate. It is chemically processed simple-sugar carbohydrate such as white sugar, candy, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose. Even many so-called natural sweeteners like agave syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, and others, are highly processed into simpler and concentrated sugars. And honey, long-considered by many to be the favored natural sweetener, is 100% simple sugar, pre-digested by the bees. All simple sugar bypasses the body’s need for natural and gradual complex carbohydrate digestion, since it has already been reduced to its simplest form. It travels quickly through to be released into the bloodstream. This impatient, hurry-up digestion has become the norm, and over decades of modern eating, the body has become habituated to it, though it doesn’t respond well to it. It is well-known that many physical and mental health problems today have their roots in the over-consumption of simple sugar.
One argument to this idea of “patient digestion” is that all sugar eventually ends up in the small intestine as simple sugar prior to absorption into the blood, and therefore it doesn’t matter if it started out as complex carbohydrate or manufactured simple sugar. But it’s the rapidity and the quantity of delivery of simple sugar to the blood that is the difference between consuming complex carbohydrate and processed simple sugar. And I would further clarify this by emphasizing “complex carbohydrate with its natural fiber intact,” such as whole grains, fresh vegetables, and beans, as the healthiest carbohydrate to for digestive patience and overall health. Also, when the simple sugar, fruit sugar or fructose, is consumed I suggest eating the whole fruit, with its fiber, rather than in the form of juices, concentrates, flavorings, syrups and powders. Fiber in food has long been proven to support natural digestive function (digestive patience).
There is a saying, “Biology precedes psychology.” I would adapt it and say, “Physiology precedes psychology.” If we hurry up our digestive physiology, demanding that it work faster through the consumption of simple sugar of various kinds, we will see a reflection of that outward in all kinds of expressions of impatience. Outward behavior is influenced by what’s happening inwardly at the physiological level. The two cannot be separated.
Inevitably, all of the body’s internal organs are made to work harder by the modern diet of excess protein, fat and sugar, ultimately causing over-stimualtion of the metabolism and nervous system, giving further rise to personal and social impatience. Re-estalishing inward physiological and digestive patience, eating in a way that supports the body’s natural stability, we see outward patience being restored over time.
© 2016 David Briscoe
Tempeh with Vegetables & Sauerkraut
This recipe is especially nice during colder weather. It is warming and energizing. If you prefer, it can be made in a regular pot. Add an additional 15 minutes to the cooking time.
1 inch of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker
1 block of tempeh
Sesame oil for frying tempeh.
1 medium onion, trimmed, peeled and cut into eighths
1 medium turnip, cut into eighths
1 large carrot, cut into wedges
¼ head of green cabbage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup sauerkraut
1 level teaspoon sea salt
Soy sauce to taste
Savory Seasoned Dried Tofu
Dried tofu is the most concentrated source of protein of all soy foods. This type of tofu can be used in a number of dishes. It is especially delicious as an ingredient in rolled sushi or added to pasta salad.
Dried tofu is not commonly available in natural foods stores, and when it is, it is often old and rancid. It should not be a yellow color. Instead it should be a light beige if it is fresh. In our opinion, the very best quality is sold by Gold Mine Natural Foods at www.goldminenaturalfoods.com or 1-800-475-3663.
8 pieces of dried tofu
1 ½ level teaspoons sea salt
2 rounded Tablespoons granulated onion powder
¼ cup brown rice syrup
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
hands to remove excess water.
the narrow width of the tofu.
pot) with enough water to cover the tofu.
1 one pound block of tofu
2 or 3 scallions sliced into thin rounds
1 Tablespoon bonita fish flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
Soy sauce to taste
3 inches of boiling water
1. Bring water to a rolling boil.
2. Cut block of tofu in half and place in boiling water. Return water to a full boil and shut off flame.
3. Shut off flame and let tofu rest in hot water for 5 more minutes.
3. Remove tofu blocks from water. Drain.
4. Cut each half into halves again. And cut each section into two triangles.
5. Arrange 2 triangles in small bowl..
6. Garnish with soy sauce, scallions, 1/4 teaspoon ginger pulp and a sprinkling of bonita flakes.
7. Serve immediately.