Known as the second brain, the human digestive system is a complicated and intricate part of our nervous system. In a lifetime 100 tons of food will pass along the digestive tract. The health of the intestines is vital to protect us from being in a diseased state and the care we take over its health will determine our overall well being. Maintaining a healthy bacterial and acid/alkali balance is now a well known fact in supporting the whole body with a direct influence on overall good health.
Improper digestion can lead to many unpleasant signs including bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, IBS, and food intolerance reactions. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has been used as a catch all phrase but is fact a quite distinctive problem with the colon going into spasm giving intermittent abdominal pain and irregular bowel habits. IBS occurs mostly in early to middle age and is suffered by twice as many women as men. IBS is a multi-faceted problem and more than one treatment may be needed.
Start at the Top
All stages through the digestive tract needs to be completed or just like an airport terminal when the baggage system fails, chaos will begin. Granny said “chew your food”. Well she was right. Chewing provides the first pass at breaking down the food and in the process sets off an alert signal to the stomach to expect an arrival. The stomach goes into action and starts to produce a few litres of acid and digestive enzymes. The production of the digestive juices in the stomach stimulates the rest of the digestive tract to produce a whole raft of secretions. Leaving the stomach the partly processed food enters the small intestine where most of the absorption of nutrients from the food will take place. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes, the liver bile and between them they deal with the absorption of starches, sugars and fats.
Why do you need to know this? Well because if chewing does not take place or you run around like a mad ferret whilst eating, this breakdown will not happen.
You finish up with partially digested foodstuffs fermenting and blowing you up like a balloon, causing pain, discomfort, inflammation and potential problems. Of course in the process you will also fail to get the nutrients you need from the food and bizarrely can get hunger pangs because your body is looking for the nutrients it lacks.
We have in the last couple of decades created a society where time is of the essence and have in the process delivered bad “gut vibrations”.
Moving Swiftly on to the Bottom
Now in the form of a liquid we move from the small to the large intestine (otherwise known as the bowel or colon) turning a corner on the right side of the abdomen. This first part is uphill and can be tricky against gravity. Hence the reason often for right side pain or discomfort. The colon absorbs water and salts from the food residue and the longer it hangs around here the drier it becomes. The residue is moved along by peristalsis action and should at this stage be moist and bulky. The pressure on the wall on the colon sends a message to the brain to discharge the remaining rubbish. The end.
Route Stimulants and Repairs
The last thing you want is this whole process being disrupted, delayed or stopped for whatever reason. It will fester, start to ferment, transfer toxins to the blood stream, stagnate, become painful and smelly and downright unfriendly to good bacteria. Your gut relies on good bacteria for absorption of vitamins and minerals and production of acid which breaks down the foods in the first place. Topping up good bacteria is not a problem. The most important friendly bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Both can be added with good quality live bacteria supplements (avoiding any probiotics with added sugar for taste obviously). Adding prebiotics at the same time (provides the right synergistic flora for the probiotics) is a great idea. FOS is a typical example.
Stomach acid decreases with age and as such adding a digestive enzyme as a supplement is quite a successful way of helping the gut to perform.
- Bromelain has been used in intestinal disorders and has been reported to heal gastric ulcers.
- Ginger is an all-time favorite to help stimulate enzyme activity. It is considered a tonic for the tract and eases the transport problems on route.
- Papaya. Helps to regulate the digestive system and improve peristalsis action and is rich in Vit C, folate and potassium.
- Low levels of stomach acid (HCL) can be enhanced with Betaine Hydrochloride taken as a supplement.
A fabulous digestive aid with enzymes is Nature’s Plus Acti-Zyme.
Healing the gut wall to reduce toxic transfer and inflammation can be achieved with:-
- L-Glutamine. An amino acid that is fundamental in the structure of the whole intestinal lining.
- Aloe Vera. Promotes the growth of Bifido bacteria and help in blocking the progress of Candida in the mucosa (gut wall).
- Pau D’Arco. Anti-fungal and anti-Candida
- Starflower Oil. An unparalleled source of GLA, provides the raw materials for the ant-inflammatory prostagladins.
- Garlic. Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasite. Encourages the growth of key probiotics.
Maintain Regularity through Diet
Diets high in fibre (complex carbohydrates) and ample water intake provide the least risk of bowel problems including cancer. Communities that consume more simple carbohydrates, high in fats, salt and refined foods will almost certainly be at high risk of gut disease. Changing the diet can be challenging but is essential. We are what we absorb not necessarily what we eat. Having the ability to absorb is fundamental but nutritious food has to be on the plate.
Some special fibres that play an essential role in the health and integrity of the entire intestinal tract are worth mentioning:-
- A bulking laxative and used for diverticulosis. High in LA & GLA which are precursors for the body’s anti-inflammatory systems.
- Psyllium Husk. Soft cooling and lubricating and absorbs poisons
- Slippery Elm. Soothing coating mucilage. Protects the intestinal wall from acids and toxins. Helps with ulcers and inflammation.
- A gentle way to restore the rhythm of the system.
Herbal Cleaning and Stimulants
There are a number of herbs that have a bitter stimulant action that assists in the gut to stimulate the various phases of digestion. E.g..
|Dandelion||Stimulate the release of bile from the liver and gallbladder|
|Milk Thistle||Prevents liver destruction and enhances liver function through its ability to prevent toxin-induced damage|
|Centaurium||Will rebalance the stomach acid and is great for acid reflux, hiatus hernia and indigestion in the upper half of the tract.|
|Silicea||Lines the gut and calms an inflamed and painful digestive tract|
|Yarrow||Reduces bloating and reduces inflammation caused by irritating foods|
|Molkosan||Great remedy for the whole tract, restoring the acid/alkaline balance. Good for Candida and slow metabolism|
|Peppermint||A great favourite which calms the system and relieves trapped wind|
A fabulous herbal remedy is A.Vogel’s Digestisan. It contains is mix of some of these herbs to help digestion.
Exercise accelerates the lymphatic flow, induces sweating and increases metabolism and detoxification efficiency. Should be part of a daily routine.
Get the best rest & sleep you can.
Avoid Stress or deal with it in a calm manner. It is known to significantly disrupt the digestive normal functions.
Get more help from Appleseeds Health Store. We will get you going.