Digestion – Getting to the Guts of the Matter

Your digestive tract is very much like an ecosystem. There are many different organisms that live there to help breakdown food, produce vitamins and keep the place healthy. Only 10% of the cells in a human body are our own. The other 90% are the tiny bacteria that coexist with us and keep us healthy and strong. With the incidence of conditions such as IBS at epidemic proportions, maybe we should be taking better care of our tiny helpers.

Why do so many people suffer digestive disorders?

The answer to this is multi-faceted and the affects have been building through the generations:

  • Over consumption of sugar.
  • Prevalence of processed foods.
  • Too much wheat, dairy & meat.
  • Not enough vegetables.
  • Not enough “live” foods.
  • Diets far too low in fibre.
  • Over use of anti-biotics.
  • Chlorine in water.

Individually these points don’t seem such a big deal, but the combination is disastrous, resulting in an imbalance in the inner environment. Healthy bacteria struggle to survive and pathogenic organisms thrive. This play off between good and bad gut-biota – if there is no change in what goes in our mouths – will result in: poor nutrient absorption; a weakened immune response; and an increased sensitivity to different foods due to a damaged gut lining letting though bigger molecules than it should. The results of this is dis-ease (a loss of “ease” or balance). Plus if we’re not absorbing the nutrients the rest of our body needs to function and our immune system is compromised… this can lead to dis-ease throughout the body.

Research shows this to be the case. A bizarre experiment where fecal matter was taken from healthy individuals and implanted in the colons of people suffering chronic diseases yielded extraordinary results. The condition of MS and Parkinson\’s sufferers improved markedly.

Now the last thing that I am suggesting is that we need to do what they did in the experiment, there are other ways!!!

Its important that you take a holistic approach to your health if you want to heal you gut, feel great and have loads of energy.

Firstly a damaged gut will have become sensitive to certain foods which will be causing inflammation. Removing these foods is essential. Most people are aware of what foods upset them. Top of the list are wheat and dairy. Removing these foods will ease symptoms, but don’t stop here! To fully heal the gut we need to rebuild what has been lost.

So, secondly, take a look at your diet as a whole. You need to get balance back in that internal environment so that the good bacteria will thrive and the pathogenic ones die off. Increase raw foods, whole foods, cutting out processed foods and sugar would be a good start.

Thirdly we need to re-establish the colony of health bacteria with the use of pro-biotics supplements and foods. Probiotic foods such as Kombucha and Sauerkraut are “live” foods, teeming with beneficial bacteria, this ancient way of preserving foods has been largely lost in our culture, but pro-biotic foods are wonderfully healing and I recommend them to everyone as part of your diet everyday.

Upper digestive tract problems

Just can’t stomach it?

Issues in the upper digestive tract are different to the lower. Here the action is predominately to do with acids, enzymes and bile.

Raw foods can help boost digestion by providing extra enzymes, eating raw before cooked is a good way to stimulate digestion.

Bitter foods are lacking in a western diet. Watercress and rocket, two delicious summer salads are excellent bitters to stimulate the digestion. Simple food combining can help – keeping carbohydrates (grains and potatoes) and protein (meat, fish, dairy) separate – as they are digested differently.

If things are really still not working then you might need to aid your digestion with the addition and a digestive enzyme formula and/or Hydrochloric Acid supplement for a time.

Herbs can be a really good way to stimulate the digestion in a natural but powerful way. I asked Medical Herbalist Tracy Jackson, which are her favourite digestive tonics.

Herbal digestive tonics

Tracy explained that herbal digestive tonics fall into one or more of 4 categories.

✦BITTERS These are herbs the activate the salivary glands, which sends a message to the rest of the digestive system to produce digestive juices. Her favourite bitter herbs are: Barberry (Berberis), Centaury, Gentian and Dandelion Root.

✦HEPATICS These stimulate the production of bile, which is essential for the breakdown of fats. Her favourites are: Milk Thistle (also restorative to the liver), Yellow Dock, Barberry and Dandelion Root.

✦CALMATIVES Good for calming down an upset digestion or one that is producing excess wind! Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Meadowsweet.

✦DEMULCENTS These sooth and coat the gut and reduce inflammation so are good for damaged GI tracts – IBS, Ulcers, Leaky gut. Her favourites of these are: Marshmallow root, Slippery elm and comfrey root.

Thanks for sharing that Tracy!

Products our customers love!

Digestion Best Sellers

Products that sell themselves because they work.

LEPICOL A great range of products that combines fibre (psyllium husk) with pro-biotics and/or digestive enzymes. Developed by Peter Jackson, who cured his own health problems and developed this product from his experience. Get your free sample packs including a free booklet in store.

PEPPERMINT this is a great herb for calming the digestive system. We have it in many different forms from teas to oil of peppermint powder and capsules.

L-GLUTAMINE The most important nutrients for the gut lining to restore itself. We have this in capsule and powder forms.

CARICOL Organic Papaya puree. A great product for aiding digestion. Papaya is rich in enzymes.

SLIPPERY ELM available in capsules and loose, this is very soothing and healing to the entire digestive system.

A VOGEL’S MOLKOSAN promotes the right pH in the digestive tract with its high concentration of lactic acid. Its action is also anti-fungal.

SILICEA is a form of silica that coats the digestive tract, soothing irritation.

ORTIS FRUIT & FIRBER CUBES a natural remedy for constipation. This great products keeps things moving!

H2O a cheeky last mention should go to good old water. Many digestive problems result from poor hydration! Drink a minimum of 1.5 litres a day.

Georgie Wingfield-Hayes

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