Isn’t this what we have been hearing just about forever? “We are what we eat” , “We are what is at the end of our fork” etc etc. Well, it should actually read “We are what we DIGEST” because no matter what you eat, until and unless it is digested, it is absolutely useless to the system and body. Although each nutrient needs a further set of nutrients for digestion, we will use magnesium as an example of this.
For example, we speak of the necessity of serotonin in our system. However, 5HTP alone CANNOT produce serotonin. 5HTP has to be combined with carbohydrates and magnesium in order to create serotonin.
Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for fibromyalgiacs and also for others. Yet it is not as easy to get the magnesium absorbed. We might be eating food packed with all these nutrients and yet there is a chance that our body is unable to digest it. Without magnesium, your body could not properly digest foods. Your body uses the mineral magnesium to aid in the digestion process and to help regulate copper, potassium, zinc, vitamin D and calcium levels within your body. Magnesium also helps muscles contract and activates enzymes that your body needs.
Magnesium activates enzymes that assists the body absorb and use fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Activating enzymes lets the body digest and break down food into smaller particles for energy. This is an essential process in our system and for our well being.
An easy way to think about how magnesium levels are affected is to consider the “in” and the “out”. Levels are decreased when either less magnesium comes in or more magnesium goes out of the body.
Broadly speaking, the following will raise magnesium levels:
- Higher intake — eating more magnesium-rich foods, using magnesium bath salts and magnesium oil, or taking oral magnesium supplements
- Higher absorption of magnesium in the small intestines, in the case of oral and dietary magnesium
- Lower elimination as waste through the gastrointestinal “GI” tract (the stomach, intestines and colon) — transdermal magnesium avoids this issue
- Lower excretion by the kidneys.
Assuming that you are taking sufficient magnesium, the fact is to ensure that you are digesting enough. In order to digest magnesium, you need a whole set of other nutrients. These are often refered to as HOPE.
- High fibre food – such as chia seeds, beans, wholegrains and nuts (go with almonds, cashews and pine nuts because they also contain magnesium giving you a 2 in 1 effect).
- Omega 3 and 6 – which you will get from fatty fish and coconut, among others
- Probiotics – fermented food, yoghurt, kefir etc
- Enzymes – this is really important and I will soon write a whole article on the different enzymes and link it here.
The digestive system works alongside another pair of organs, the kidneys, which are equipped both to eliminate wastes and to handle excessive nutrient intake. Accordingly, there is no real fear of overabsorbing magnesium as the kidney will eliminate it. In doing so, the kidneys help to maintain “homeostasis”. Homeostasis (the level of balance) is the process by which the internal systems of the body maintain a balance of internally programmed healthy levels for temperature, pH, nutrient levels, etc. — by adjusting its physiological processes.
Magnesium allows your body to produce and store energy; without magnesium, there is no energy or movement, which means no life.