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Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 11:41 AM   #1
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Digestion

In Italy, there are 2 kinds of yogurt commercials, one with scantily-clad ladies slurping up a viscous white substance with the tagline "Fatevi l'amore con il sapore" (make love with the flavor) . That's about 10-20%. The vast majority is geared towards (politely) "digestion". They tout their helpful bacteria content (bifidus essensus or whatever) and have people aggressively wiggling their butts to the US tune "Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll".. You're just, I dunno, standing in line at the bank, and you just have to "Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll"! Another one says "do you drink hot water in the morning?" ( I assume a constipation "cure"... superstition or valid, I have no idea...). These digestion-related yogurt ads seem to make up at least a quarter of all ads, of an evening.

Aside from the "digestivi" (liqueurs mentioned in the "liver" post), there are all sorts of "digestion" topics that are open for discussion, even at table! It's very common for people to say "I don't digest that" and everyone somberly nods their heads in comprehension. They'll gladly elaborate if given the opportunity. I'm trying to figure out if this is a face-saving way of saying "I don't like X".. where saying "I don't digest it" gives them a medical out... I never heard of so many digestive problems in the rest of my entire life as I have heard here in just a couple of years.

Again, are these people just nuts? Or do Americans overlook the health role of the digestive system?

Other digestion-related faux pas:
The drinking of cappucino after 10 am or so.. While it's fine, or even encouraged, to have a cappucino or caffe latte in the morning, milk in coffee at lunch or anytime thereafter is a serious no-no. Seem to have to do with the combination of milk and the rest of the stuff that you're eating (which could be, of course, pasta cream sauces or cheese... no matter!). You risk your digestion not following this rule. The milk will curdle in your stomach and cause no end of problems... For the same rationale, they think creamy salad dressings are disgusting, since why would you put milk on the salad, whose role toward the end of the meal is to help you digest.

The meal must follow a certain order.. Antipasti.. THEN Pasta or other "primo". THEN meat. THEN veg./salad. THEN cheese. THEN dessert. THEN fruit. THEN coffee. THEN after dinner drinks.. You can leave things out, but to mix up the order is not done.

Eating spaghetti with meatballs defies all convention.. it's completely unheard of here. You can even go to a Chinese restaurant here and be served rice (eg., fried rice) first, and the rest later!

Strong liquors like grappa are not just pleasant, but are almost a prescription necessity to "aid the digestion". Coffee is never to be taken AFTER the liquors, only before.

Garlic is seen as "hard" on the digestive system, and is used sparingly (forget Vinny Testa's or the Olive Garden). Cayenne pepper, however, is seen as good for the digestion and for the sexual organs. Black pepper seems to be disdained as harmful.

For some ailments, even emotional or psychic ones, a "white diet" is prescribed (as in, not just recommended, but counseled by docs and nutritionists). It's called the "white diet" because everything you eat has to be white. Of course there are the usual things like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, but meats and fruit/veg are included, as long as they are "white". So fennel is allowed, but not carrots; cauliflower but not broccoli; flounder but not salmon; apples or pears(minus the peel of course) but not cherries or figs; chicken is OK, as are basically any and all cheeses, milk products, onions (not red ones!), and so forth.

At the public schools, you can even stipulate that your kid is given a "white diet" or a "red diet" or a "green diet". I have also heard of a pink diet. Strawberry yogurt, salmon, and...??
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 11:59 AM   #2
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Re: Digestion

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina
Again, are these people just nuts? Or do Americans overlook the health role of the digestive system?
Probably a bit of both. Some people can't digest lactose, gluten, etc. And nobody really knows why fiber reduces cancer risk, but one theory is that is helps cleanse the bad bacteria from the little nooks and crannies of the gut. There are also some interesting theories about "gut leakage" and the immune response to undigested bits in the bloodstream.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 12:05 PM   #3
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Re: Digestion

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina
For some ailments, even emotional or psychic ones, a "white diet" is prescribed (as in, not just recommended, but counseled by docs and nutritionists). It's called the "white diet" because everything you eat has to be white. Of course there are the usual things like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, but meats and fruit/veg are included, as long as they are "white". So fennel is allowed, but not carrots; cauliflower but not broccoli; flounder but not salmon; apples or pears(minus the peel of course) but not cherries or figs; chicken is OK, as are basically any and all cheeses, milk products, onions (not red ones!), and so forth.
This would be no problem at all. Just eat like a Swede.

Ha
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 12:07 PM   #4
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Re: Digestion

Sounds like the craziness of the american college students alcohol rules. "Never mix beer and wine - it'll make you sick." "Hard liquor before/after beer gives you hangovers. The kind where you vomit." Never mix liquor colors - stick with clears or browns. crazy, IMO
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 12:35 PM   #5
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Re: Digestion

Never eat on an empty stomach...
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 12:38 PM   #6
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Re: Digestion

I find all this fascinating, it's like a front row seat to another world. Oh and Vinny Testa's is my favorite restaurant.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-13-2007, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: Digestion

I think not eating late is the best thing for me. I try not to eat anything after 8 PM. It probably has to do with acid reflux when lying down, but when I eat late my digestion and sleep both suffer.

I do like yogurt, but we have to be careful here in American. We put all kinds of garbage like high fructose corn syrup and gelatin (from animal bones, etc) in it. There are lots of good brands, but we have to look harder for it.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-14-2007, 09:35 PM   #8
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Re: Digestion

If you go to my pharmacy and get antiobiotics I will often suggest yogurt with active cultures.
We also have the new yogurt called "activ" which talks about how its good for your digestion.
Also lots of commercials for beano
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-15-2007, 06:06 AM   #9
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Re: Digestion

If you've never tired Beano you don't know what you're missing. I'm still trying to find out if I can give it to the dog
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-15-2007, 07:43 AM   #10
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Re: Digestion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Outtahere
If you've never tired Beano you don't know what you're missing. I'm still trying to find out if I can give it to the dog
There's a dog version called Curtail. If you use it, start with very small amounts (or talk to your vet).
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-15-2007, 08:33 AM   #11
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Re: Digestion

It could be due to a lack of fiber in the foods they eat causing constipation. You will also observe as you travel and dine out that fruits, vegetables and high fiber breads are scarce in many countries. Fruits and vegetables are expensive outside of the USA for most of the locals - they are land, water, labor and transportation intensive.

In Italy San Peligrino bottled water is considered a "Degestivo"
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-15-2007, 01:51 PM   #12
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Re: Digestion

Constipation is sometimes caused by not drinking enough water.

Audrey
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-16-2007, 10:46 AM   #13
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Re: Digestion

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Originally Posted by audreyh1
Constipation is sometimes caused by not drinking enough water.
Audrey
A definate cause and if you think about it people in many countries must rely upon bottled water for drinking - a cost they might minimize at the expense of not drinking enough water.

There really isn't any health reason for drinking bottled water in countries like the USA or Canada but people do it.

I remember when I was 16 and working in a supermarket and bottled water started to appear on the shelves. I thought this would never last NYC has some of the best water in the world. But people buy it.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-20-2007, 05:17 PM   #14
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Re: Digestion

i do think we overlook proper digestion - and nutrition here in the states!

i have terrible digestion problems and even had an endoscopy to see if they could figure anything out. the docs only pointed to acid/reflux and prescribed prevacid - which us porky americans get from over indulging in high-fat foods!

turns out i didn't have enough acid - which i figured out from a health/natural book that often has tons of info about digestion, enzymes etc...and have worked on consuming certain foods at certain times, limiting others etc.

also - if you're curious, ginger beer (from company called Reeds) usually at trader joe's or whole foods type markets is like drano for the tummy if you ever have "indigestion".

:P
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-20-2007, 05:18 PM   #15
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Re: Digestion

oh - and don't drink water while you eat - it dilutes the enzymes and acids and you will get a tummy ache - that is why many european restaurants don't serve water w/ meals...
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-21-2007, 08:22 AM   #16
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Re: Digestion

Actually, when I lived in Europe, my digestion was probably the best ever - I suspect it's because they tend to eat foods in season, control the amount of processing done with their food and take the time to actually dine. In addition, their yogurts are phenomenal and work well :-)

As for the ordering of the way one eats food - that's more prevalent in Italy than in Germany.....I think it also depends where in Italy -there's a substantial difference in the foods and attitudes between northern and southern Italy.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-21-2007, 10:10 AM   #17
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Re: Digestion

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Actually, when I lived in Europe, my digestion was probably the best ever
I tend to agree..!
There is a lot of validity in some of the habits.. but it's just that their preoccupation tends to extend way beyond the already-established cultural provisions.

Quote:
there's a substantial difference in the foods and attitudes between northern and southern Italy.
I was once subjected in Modena to a "normal" restaurant meal that included: two tables' worth of antipasti (vegetables, cheeses, cold cuts) a disposizione. A couple of appetizers then served at table (one of which was -well, essentially imagine just the fatty part of sausages, served raw as a spread). Then FOUR soups, TWO pasta courses, TWO meat-based seconds (one was a horse-meat stew), and then it all became a blur.. Subject yourself to that on a regular basis, and I can see why "digestion" becomes an issue!

But they'll say afterwards, "I don't digest" Chinese food, for example.. (It just gives me the giggles. By their measure, a few billion Chinese should be on their deathbeds...) Or they'll tut-tut about my use of black pepper..

Hard to assess, but in the North they tend to use more butter and meat; in the South olive oil reigns along with more veggies and fish, so even what seems to be a "heavier" Southern meal might in some ways actually be lighter. ??

My personal digestion hangups are limited to: no longer having coffee or anything else with milk in the AM.. just leads to a sour stomach. For similar reasons, for breakfast I avoid cereals or sweet pastries (upon which the Italians 'thrive') and find myself doing better with a slice of bread with some cheese and/or ham.. or maybe eggs.. anyway something with protein.

I agree also with deserat that taking time to eat helps enormously!
Also I think it's been proven that chewing more than we are accustomed to not only helps break down the food more in a mechanical sense, but engages mouth enzymes to a greater extent.. That's a hard habit to establish.. gotta work on that.
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Re: Digestion
Old 02-22-2007, 03:17 AM   #18
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Re: Digestion

Those digestive yogurts are very popular here too. I see a lot of people buying them.

Up here the standard breakfast consists of heavy dark breads, marinated or smoked fish, sliced meats, cheese, etc. Coffee and/or hot tea with it.

Lunch is a smaller meal but still somewhat heavy. Pancakes wrapped around some type of meat/veggie stuffing is popular and cheap.

Traditional dinners are usually pork and potatoes with a veggie. Chicken is fairly popular as well. Beef is usually ground and made into little seasoned meatballs or a meatloaf. People here drink LOTS of milk. It's cheap and very fresh. I'm a milkaholic so suits me just fine. I have yet to hear of a lactose intolerant Estonian.

Cereal is becoming a little more common, but mostly I see people buying the sugary Coco Puff type things for kids. I pick up some Kellogg's Special K every now and then but I too feel better when I eat the way the locals do. Probably because I don't get all the bad carbs.

Although I'm a sucker for those little packaged jaffa cakes.

In my opinion Europeans tend to eat in a way that is less likely to give them stomach ailments as opposed to shoving down whatever, whenever and then having to treat it afterwards.
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