I work with lots of clients who come to me with a variety of symptoms and with almost all of them I recommend digestive system support and they are confused..
Getting folks to realize the road to good health is paved with good intestines… is tricky business. There are more organs in your digestive system than in any other system in the body. Up to two-thirds of all your body parts are used just for digesting. You also use up to two-thirds of your daily energy just to complete the process of digesting. The two things the body expends the MOST energy on is “digesting” and “elimination”.
The digestive system is complex and intricate, it plays a major role in the health and well being of the body. It provides the means by which the body transforms the food we eat into energy to feed the “machine”. It consists of:
- small intestine
The first stop is what happens in the mouth. When we chew the food the body produces saliva, which comes complete with an enzyme called ptyalin (amylase). This enzyme helps to start dissolving food making it easier to swallow. Once the food is then swallowed, it travels down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach then works like a washing machine churning the food into a pasted referred to as “chyme”.
The stomach uses hydrochloric acid (HCL) which the Adrenal glands contribute to encouraging the stomach to produce, and the enzyme pepsin to begin breaking down proteins. When we eat something with sugar or drink water, those are absorbed directly into the blood stream while in the stomach. The food that is not absorbed moves on down the line to the pyloric sphincter which is at the very end of the stomach. this sphincter serves as the gateway to the small intestine. When the food eaten has been broken down well enough, it is released into the small intestine, which is made up of three parts:
The small intestine is where the MAJOR digestion and ABSORPTION of nutrients takes place. These nutrients are then absorbed into the blood stream and some are transported to the liver.
The average peep, eats from 40-50 tons of food in their lifetime… Did you know it takes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, gallbladder, pancreas and liver JUST to digest a glass of milk?
Other organs that play a major role in digestion include:
The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and it manufactures various enzymes and hormones: amylase for breaking down starches, and insulin and glucagon for blood sugar regulation. These are pumped directly into the duodenum. A duct also connects the duodenum to our gallbladder. This pear shaped sac squeezers out bile, which bile is basically our body’s version of a detergent agent that contains acids that dissolves fats.
Our liver is the largest organ in the body, and the body’s main chemical factory. It performs more than 500 different functions. Besides producing bile, the liver:
- processes nutrients
- converts dietary proteins into new protein needs for the blood system
- stores fats, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins
- releases proteins, carbohydrates & vitamins as needed
- absorbs poisons and toxic substances before neutralizing them
Once the food makes it past the small intestine, any remaining matter is then passed into the cecum, which is the beginning of the large intestine, or colon. It is in the large intestine that fecal matter is formed. Water is reabsorbed, B-vitamins are absorbed, and the matter itself is moved along through the rest of the colon. The large intestine ends at the rectum and anus.
The length of the digestive tract is some 30 feet. There is about 25 feet of small intestines and about 5 feet of large intestine.
There is a major purpose for the digestive system and it revolves around “CHANGE”. The digestive system changes carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates or sugars. It changes proteins into smaller molecules called amino acids which are building blocks for our body. It changes fats into fatty acids/glycerin. Whole foods are changed into usable forms called nutrients, which are directly absorbed into our blood stream. It is often said, “You are what you eat,” but I say “You are what you are able to absorb!”
DID YOU KNOW?
- The liver can function even if as much as 90% of it is removed
- after you eat, it usually takes 24 hours in healthy adults to complete the process of digestion
WHAT ARE SOME PRIMARY PROBLEMS and INADEQUACIES WITH THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM?
#1. TRANSIT TIME:
One of the most common issues associated with the digestive system is transit time. Transit time is a measure used to denote how long it takes for food to be broken down and roll through the 30 foot system from end to end. Normally, it is about 24 hours, it takes around 3-6 hours for a meal just to be converted to nutrients. Problems occur when transit time is either too slow or too fast.
Muscles all along the digestive tract contract in an action called peristalsis which is what propels the food through the process. These propulsive waves also force waste to move into the rectum for elimination. This should happen from 3-4 times a day…. (HOW MANY TIMES ARE YOUR BOWELS MOVING?)…I always say “think babies and puppies”. Typically they have to eliminate shortly after eating. Usually once most of us hit our late teens and I’m seeing this much sooner now in my practice, that we no longer eliminate like babies/puppies… Folks are lucky if they have a bowel movement once a day. So now think about the fact that the digestive system can only process 3-4 meals a day! So when you eat the next meal the very 1st one should be ready for exit.
I frequently tell my patients that if they are only having one bowel movement a day they ARE constipated. I hear over and over again.. but one bowel movement a day is what is “Normal” for me… But this is NOT the case if you have more than one meal a day! Folks, our current health system deals mostly with drugs & surgery. They tend to prescribe laxatives that can be habit forming and fibers that contain food dyes known to be carcinogens. If we have digestive issues, it is also common to use antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antacids, steroids, and/or intestinal removal. What we really need is a better understanding of how the digestive system functions, and how We can care for it naturally.
TEST YOUR TRANSIT TIME: drink just beet juice or liquid chlorophyll. after you drink it, it should take about 24 hrs. to see red coloring in your stool. If your red transit time is too fast like 12 hours, you are eliminating too fast and not absorbing all your nutrients if it is too slow, say 48 hours, your constipated and leading to toxicity.
#2. INADEQUATE ENZYMES
Food has to be properly digested to allow absorption. This only happens with the help of enzymes. without digestive enzymes, which speed up the digestive process food would take the same amount of time to digest as it does when rotting in warm open air. By design, we do have sufficient enzymes to ensure digestion. but what is not generally known is that today our enzymes have to combat shelf-life food. Modern foods did not exist when our Creator originally figured out our lifetime supply of enzymes.
Foods today are processed, boxed, canned refined, heat treated, pasteurized, radiated, microwaved, and packaged. Our enzymes were designed for food that is fresh, partially digested by nature, and alive. That does not describe shelf-life foods. Preservatives, chemicals, additives, and heat also destroy any additional natural enzymes present within food, not to mention the natural enzymes we were born with.
DID YOU KNOW?
The lining of the stomach has 35 million tiny glands that pour out two to three quarts of gastric juice daily? When food is introduced the juice flows faster.
Enzymes are also needed for detoxification. They turn fat-soluble materials and waste into water for easier elimination. We see that fewer enzymes equals more toxicity. Enzymes help ensure the removal of harmful allergens, pollution, heavy metals and toxins from the body. Enzymes also maintain a normal pH level in the digestive system, which is critical in reducing inflammation.
#3. LACKING SYSTEM PROBIOTICS
We are hearing more and more about the need for probiotics. They are similar to enzymes, our body produces and needs friendly bacteria. They participate in digestion and absorption. They stand guard to also do battle in our defense against harmful organisms from making our digestive system their home. Probiotics even help supplement our diet by manufacturing vitamins and providing immunity.
Probiotics are found in both the small and large intestines. But the colon contains the majority of these friendly buggers. A normal peep should have about 1000 trillion of these good buggers in the intestine. They can even account for 10% of total body weight! The most familiar strains are:
- lactobacillus acidophilus
- bifidobacterium longum (acidophilus & bifidophilus)
They have some specific jobs to perform and those would be:
- producing additional enzymes
- producing antibiotic substances to fight bacteria bad guys
- forming B-vitamins
- reducing liver stress
- preventing constipation
- boosting immune system
What is happening is many are functioning with a very reduced population of beneficial probiotic colonies in their gut due to the over use of antibiotics (which our commercial meats are loaded with), chemical exposure, and overly processed fast/boxed/microwaved foods. Which is why EVERYONE would benefit by supplementing daily with probiotics.
Many are misdiagnosed with digestive symptoms with something called a hiatus. The diaphragm, which is our breathing muscle separates the chest from our abdomen, contains an opening called the hiatus. This is where the esophagus passes through to reach the stomach. Occasionally part of the stomach protrudes through the hiatus, creating a hernia that permits the black-flow of acid or chyme up in to the esophagus, or we call it acid reflux disease. Doctors can confuse heart disease or ulcers with a hiatus hernia because the symptoms are very similar. Sometimes they simply trat the issue with antacids. A hiatus hernia can cause great pain, difficult breathing, heartburn, etc.
#5. HYDROCHOLORIC ACID (HCL) IMBALANCE
We have been fed that stomach acid is bad, if you take a look the antacid industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Although antacids can be helpful, they are not the answer for what causes heartburn or indigestion in the first place. Stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid, breaks down protein ad fights off microbes. It stimulates the pancreas and small intestines to produce additional enzymes, as well as bile. The truth is that treatment aimed at neutralizing stomach acid can actually make your digestive issues worse not better. The other connecting factor is most are also dealing with adrenal fatigue issues too, and the adrenal glands also participate in sending proper signal to the stomach for proper HCL production. So it’s usually a two-fold issue happening. Which is why when someone is dealing with major stress issues, the digestion is affected.
DID YOU KNOW? The small intestine can be likened to a second brain. It contains as many neurons as your spinal column, and 95% of your serotonin which is the brain’s mood regulating chemical is contained in your small intestines, elaborate network of nerves. That’s why we feel strong emotions like fear, love and anticipation in the gut as well as our minds. The intestines can also be affected in the same way that the brain is from lack of serotonin. Inadequate serotonin in the bran can cause depression; in the gut, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.
Many are fearful when I recommend they need to take a HCL + pepsin supplement for reflux or bloating issues after they eat. They are afraid it will contribute to more burning, Yet the stomach has a mucus lining which forms a barrier between the stomach wall and the acid produced. This is natures’ ways of protecting the stomach from the strength of its contents. The lining of the stomach sheds cells at the rate of half a million every minute They are replaced so rapidly that the stomach has what amounts to a new lining every three days.
The question we should be asking… should we be trying to stop HCL production with antacids? As we get older, (usually after age 40), we tend to make less HCL anyway. Add to that a poor diet, overeating, and inhaling your food, and you may find you have digestive and immune issues. Low levels of stomach acid can produce protein malnourishment. This leads to acidic blood (a pH imbalance), setting the stage for toxins, illness, and disease. It can also lead to mineral deficiencies. As the blood becomes acidic, your blood will look for minerals anywhere in the body to counter the pH issues. It will even steal the mineral calcium from the bones, which contributes to osteoporosis. and when do most folks notice osteoporosis or osteopenia is an issue?…. over the age of 40!
Here is a basic equation for this type of digestive issues: low stomach acid= acidic blood=low minerals. Symptoms of this cycle looks like these symptoms:
- heart burn
- chronic candida
- food allergies
- immune problems
WHAT DOES “NATURAL’ SUPPORT OF YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
For optimum health, the digestive system requires:
- improved diet
- plenty of clean water
- and boosting the nutritional deficiencies with supplementation
DIET: this area is where most folks miss the mark in a major way. Properly balancing what you are eating is important. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat out, or have a piece of cake etc. It means those choices should be occasional not habitual. The body needs clean proteins, carbohydrates and fats. so fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains ad seeds have to be included in the mix.
Proteins need to be lean, clean and high quality. Carbohydrates are better when they are complex vs. simple. Fats should be unsaturated and essential fatty acid choices. Which fall into the Omega 3,6,9 categories.
- fish oil
- black currant oil
- borage oil
- nuts seeds
All have Essential fatty acid elements.
We also have the most amazing tool to aid in digestion that is both powerful and inexpensive, that would be our TEETH… most folks fall into the WOLF my food category, they chew what they are eating maybe 5-10 times as virtually swallow the rest whole. You want to concur over eating? Take the time to chew 25 times before swallowing, I don’t expect you to physically count your chews, but use your tongue and feel what is in your mouth, if you cannot feel chunks, then swallow. You will thank yourself with better digestion, and you will end up eating less. It takes approx. 25 minutes for the Vagus nerve to send signal to the brain that you are full. So the longer you take chewing and swallowing you will find you end up eating less.
EXERCISE: This is a touchy subject for lots of folks. Yet the truth of the matter is we spend more time sitting than any of us care to admit. We sit while driving, while watching TV, while we are on our computers, Cell phones etc. Exercise of ANY kind is beneficial to assisting the peristalsis and improving the muscular integrity of your abdomen. The body is designed to move, we have lots of “hinged” body parts for that very reason.
WATER: o avoid being constipated, we have to properly hydrated. Many people believe they drink plenty of water throughout the day, but they ignore some elements they may be also doing that naturally dehydrates the body, like coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks. So for every cup of those you drink you need to add an additional cup of water to compensate.
FIBER: It is a proven fact with todays standard go to diet choices that people are not coming close to getting near enough fiber in their diet. supplementing with fiber is highly recommended. There are five kinds of fiber:
3 soluble fibers:
- gum (not chewing gum by the way)
2 insoluble fibers:
- hemi cellulose
Introducing dietary fiber through supplementation is highly recommended but to add gradually and it’s important that you are drinking enough water at same time.
DID YOU KNOW?
The average person carries between 5 – 25 pounds of undigested fecal matter in their bowels at all times. It contributes to the “pouch” look that most of us don’t want to have.
Heartburn is not the result of excessive stomach acid; it is the result of not enough!
BENEFITS OF ADDING FIBER:
- causes us to feel full
- decreases appetite
- helps with weight-loss
- eases/speeds bowel movements
- reduces bad cholesterol
- delays blood sugar absorption
- grabs onto toxins
- sweeps feces out of the body
- lowers chance of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.
The cleansing or purging of the intestines or detoxification actually dates back to Egypt. The Greeks also used it, as did the American Indians. Detoxification has been around for ages. But never has it become more important in our history than it is right now./ Foods have become denatures, devoid of enzymes, overly sugared, and just plain poisoned. As food and water are steadily more toxic, our digestive systems are becoming more overloaded. The need for detoxification of the digestive system is paramount. The number one reason today for most doctor visits is for digestive issues.
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS: In my practice I have like any practitioner my “favorite” go to products. I’ve listed links to those products below.
Digestive System Pack (30 day supply):
Supports healthy digestion by breaking down all types of food.
May promote immune system health.
Supplies friendly bacteria to help rebalance the population of flora in the gut.
Aids in the elimination of toxins.
How It Works:
Proactazyme facilitates digestion and improves nutrient absorption. Anti-Gas TCM supports both the digestive and detoxifying functions of the body and supports the natural elimination of excess moisture and toxins. Bacillus Coagulans is a self-stable probiotic that is blended with prebiotics conducive to the growth of friendly bacteria.
Each AM packet contains 3 Proactazyme capsules. Each PM packet contains 1 Anti-Gas TCM and 2 Bacillus Coagulans capsules.
Take the contents of one AM packet throughout the day before meals (one capsule before each meal). Take the contents of the evening packet with your evening meal. Follow this pattern for 30 days.
FOOD ENZYMES: (these are on special the rest of this week)
Supplements the body’s production of important enzymes.
Provides a blend of enzymes to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Provides hydrochloric acid and bile salts to help digest proteins and fats.
Helps relieve occasional indigestion.
How It Works:
Enzymes break down food into compounds for absorption into the bloodstream. This combination of enzymes offers more complete digestive support when taken with meals. This formula includes pepsin, which is used for pre-digesting proteins in the stomach. Betaine HCl helps create an acidic environment to facilitate the activity of pepsin. After food reaches the small intestine, the enzyme pancreatin further digests protein, carbohydrates and fats in the small intestine. Pancreatin also helps to support the pancreas. Alpha amylase digests starches. Bile salt makes fats soluble, preparing them for further digestion by lipase. The enzymes bromelain and papain aid in the digestion of proteins. One capsule will help you digest a minimum of 30 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of fats.
Betaine HCl, bile salt, bromelain, lipase, alpha amylase, pancreatin, papain and pepsin.
Provides intestinal systems support.
Provides naturally occurring fiber from psyllium hulls.
Promotes regularity in maintaining healthy bowel movements.
Relieves occasional constipation.
How It Works:
There are two basic types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as fruits, seeds, brown rice, barley and oats works mainly by helping to produce a softer stool. It also chemically prevents or reduces the absorption of certain substances into the bloodstream. Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, vegetables, legumes and the outside of seeds, works like a sponge, absorbing many times its weight in water and swelling up inside the intestines. The result is elimination that is more efficient.
Nature’s Three provides: Psyllium which has the highest level of soluble fiber known—more than eight times that of oat bran. Oat fiber –a wholesome source of water-soluble fiber. Apple fiber – provides a host of health benefits. Each 10-calorie serving provides 2 g of dietary fiber.
Psyllium seed hulls, apple fruit fiber and oat inner husk bran.
CLEAN START DETOXIFYING MILD PROGRAM (14 DAY):
Supports the natural, everyday cleansing of waste from the body.
Gently moves intestinal contents through the digestive system.
May help to maintain natural energy levels.
Promotes a feeling of well-being.
How It Works:
Environmental pollutants can build up in the body, slowing natural cleansing and detoxifying processes. CleanStart® is our most popular cleanse to help support the primary detoxifying processes of the body. This flagship product is available in a mild formula for those seeking complete yet gentle cleansing support. CleanStart Mild contains Bacillus coagulans to support the friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. Use CleanStart Mild to help “jump start” your cleansing and detoxifying program. After cleansing, try Detox Basics™ daily detoxifying program for ongoing detoxification support.
Each Cleansing Drink Mix packet contains psyllium hulls, vegetable fiber, natural wild berry flavor, potassium citrate, aloe vera whole leaf, malic acid, carotene extract, stevia leaf extract, sodium copper chlorophyllin, bentonite. Each capsule pack contains 3 capsules of Gentle Move® and 1 capsule of Enviro-Detox™.
Take contents of one cleansing drink mix packet 15-30 minutes before breakfast and 15-30 minutes before dinner. Take contents of capsule packet with breakfast and dinner (twice daily).
If you’d like a personalized nutritional program put together for you and your health needs. You can go to http://www.jodibarnett758.com and click on the services tab, when you click on a specific service it will take you to the shopping cart to pay for your services and we can get you on my appointment schedule. You can also click on the “products” tab and it will take you to over 500 + products that as a practitioner I use and recommend in my practice.
Thank you for taking the time to read, like and share my posts.
Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.
Harvested Health LLC
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