Digestion: it's a mess!
Hippocrates said: “All disease begins in the gut”. Statics below prove that…
Digestion is a huge problem and a huge business in the U.S. Digestive diseases are on the rise (along with everything else). Studies from 2010 show that 60-70 million people in the US are affected, imagine what that number is now!
A Journal Watch article from 2018 says, “Overall annual healthcare expenditures for gastrointestinal disease total $136 BILLION, which is more than for heart disease ($113 billion), trauma ($103 billion), or mental health ($99 billion).” Don’t forget that your gut and brain are connected, so that $99 billion for mental health would greatly diminish if the nation would improve their gut health.
Why are these numbers so high?
· We are overfed and undernourished. The processed food we eat contains zero nutrients; in fact, it robs nutrients. The processed food is filled with chemicals, preservatives, food coloring, fake sugars and more. We are running on fumes. Our bodies are depleted of the precious nutrients our organs need to keep us going.
· 2,500 chemicals are in the food supply and 12,000 may accidentally enter it. (most are banned in other countries and many are petroleum-derived chemicals.)
· We are over-medicated and not getting to the source of the problems. People are pleased with their diagnosis and prescription so they don’t have to make the necessary lifestyle changes (this only gets you on more meds and depleted of more nutrients).
· We are rushed, exhausted and stressed (mental, environmental, nutritionally, sleep-deprived). There is no good digestion and absorbing nutrients that way.
· We are burdened with chemicals, virus, parasites, heavy metals and mold.
· We pass all this down to our kids who start off life more nutrient deprived and full of burdens than we did.
· This all causes inflammation. Let’s put out the fire.
General tips for healthier digestion (and pretty much anything else):
· Keep a journal and list everything: what you eat, drink, how you feel, bowel movements for awhile to see what your triggers are. This is not for counting calories, just to observe patterns and a reality check for what you are or are not eating.
· Eat a colorful diet based off of fruits and vegetables and a wide variety of them.
· Eat a lot of raw food for enzymes, like pineapple, papaya, sprouts, raw honey.
· Lightly cook sulfur-based vegetables, like onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
· Add sprouts, herbs, fresh herbal teas and some fermented foods, like sauerkraut.
· Eat bitter foods, like dandelion, which aids in digestion.
· Drink ½ your weight in purified water per day. Add 1/2 lemon in the morning and evening to help aid in digestion and absorption.
· Have 16 oz of organic celery juice in the morning and wait 20 minutes before eating anything else. This increases your HCL production and helps get rid of old waste in the digestive system (along with a million other benefits).
· Sip on bone broth and/or vegetable broth.
· Have your high-quality protein, but keep it no bigger than the size of your fist, stay away from processed meats and chew it until it’s liquid.
· Sprout your grains, nuts and seeds when you can. Pay attention to how your body feels on them. They can be hard on a sensitive system.
· Stay away from gluten (wheat, rye, barley) since it adds fuel to your already inflamed intestines. Here is a list of foods that contain gluten. Buying tons of “gluten-free” products are not going to be optimal for you either.
· See how you do without dairy for a while. When and if re-introducing, use small amounts of high quality (NO milk!).
· Highest allergen foods: wheat, milk, soy, shell fish, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, corn
· Stay away from: vegetable oils like canola and soy, fried food (especially fried in canola), MSG (please look at the long list of hidden names), artificial colors/preservatives/sugars, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, carrageenan, anything you don’t know what it is. There’s a huge list, but they are at the top. This stuff tears your digestive system up.
· For easy digestion: Combine starches and vegetables or protein and vegetables, but not protein and starches together. Fruit digests quickly and can ferment if you eat it with or after protein and fat. Eat melon alone.
· Chew your food until it’s liquid. If you are swallowing large chunks of food, it putrefies in your system. Doesn’t that sound yummy?!
· Eat a few small meals and graze in-between. If you are having trouble digesting, don’t overload the system. Intermittent fasting may help give your system a break too.
· Eat with the seasons. In cold weather, have warm food and vice versa.
· Be thankful for your food, be mindful of its benefits and eat without distractions.
· You have to be pooping every day, several times a day. If not, more fiber, an enema or colonics might be in order.
· Start deep breathing everyday in the morning and/or at night. Make sure your belly rises. I have videos on my YouTube playlist that range from 5 minutes and up.
· Get outside, open windows, connect with nature, get your phones away from your heads and your bodies. EMF’s cause apoptosis (cell death).
· Move your body: Walks, rebounding (mini-trampoline), yoga, stretching, weights.
· Get energy work done to release a lifetime (or several lifetimes) of emotions, stress and trauma.
· Work on reducing stress. As mentioned here, breathing, moving, nature, sleep and getting the load off of your body will help. What else can you reduce or cut out of your life that is stressing you out?
· Full night’s sleep. If you can’t, these lifestyle changes should help.
Of course, for food there will be exceptions and additions that I will list below for conditions like SIBO or Crohn’s. For the rest of it, vow to make the changes and incorporate all of this into your life. Digestion is not all about food. You HAVE TO breathe, move, control stress, let go of crap and sleep.
Basic description of how digestion works:
· Digestion can start by simply preparing the meal, then smelling it which gets the saliva flowing. The saliva and chewing help break down the food (chew until it’s liquid!). Your gastric juices increase.
· The saliva breaks down starch in the mouth.
· The esophagus brings the chewed food from your mouth to the stomach through a muscular, wave-like action called peristalsis.
· Your stomach creates more muscular action and acid which breaks down protein. Your stomach should be VERY acidic. If not, you cannot break food down. Therefore, acid blockers are not the answer for most people (probably you).
· From there small amounts of the broken-down food (chyme) are released through a valve into the duodenum, the first section of your small intestine.
· The small intestine has digestive juices which also breaks down starch, protein and carbohydrates.
· Pancreas has pancreatic juice to digest protein, fats and starches.
· The liver produces bile to aid in fat, fat-soluble vitamin and cholesterol digestion. It also stores nutrients, breaks down and removes toxic substances, stores sugar as glycogen and can break down harmful substances into in-active by-products…keep your liver clean and running smooth!
· The gallbladder stores the bile and releases some into the duodenum when fat is present.
· The food goes into the next part of the small intestine, the jejunum, where it is broken down to where it can be absorbed as nutrients through the lining of the ileum’s wall.
· The remains (water, electrolytes, plant fiber) pass through the colon where the water is absorbed leaving stool. Muscles bring it through the descending colon to your rectum and it can be eliminated.
The whole process starts at the lips and ends at the anus. It’s all connected. Did you ever try to talk while pooping? It’s not easy!
How long does this take?
Time varies, but generally speaking…
Digestion starts in the mouth
6-8 hours to through the stomach and the small intestine and then goes into your large intestine.
40 hours for the large intestine.
Some factors that determine transit time: type of food (fruit is fast, fat is slow), stress and mood. A study showed that males digest quicker than females.
Common symptoms of digestive problems:
Bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, diarrhea (a mix of both), incontinence, pain, bleeding, vomiting, foul-smelling stools, halitosis (liver), skin issues, bumps on the back of the arm (chicken skin), coated white tongue, dark under the eyes, fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, depression, anxiety, weak nails, being diagnosed with a disease (that is really just a symptom of a bigger problem) to name a few.
What can go wrong?
Not enough stomach acid (reflux, GERD). Get more hydrochloric acid in the stomach with celery juice, apple cider vinegar or supplements so you can digest your food.
Signs something is wrong: This often shows up as acid reflux, loss of taste for meat, indigestion 30-60 minutes after you eat, gas shortly after a meal.
Not enough enzymes made from amino acids to break down the food. We can get enzymes through food like pineapple, papaya sprouts, raw honey or supplements. Dr. Mercola has a comprehensive article on enzymes.
Signs something is wrong: Gas shortly after a meal, foul smelling gas, bloating
Poor gut flora (trillions of bacteria that live in the digestive tract) which affect digestion, appetite, metabolism, nervous system, HPA axis and more. Your gut flora is so vast, it’s considered an organ. You kill off good bacteria through antibiotic use, lack of a diverse plant-based diet, lack of sleep, excessive stress, smoking...the usual culprits that make us feel like crap. It’s a viscous cycle that you have to break with major lifestyle changes. Get in a diverse and colorful foods along with some fermented foods or take some probiotics.
Gallbladder attacks or stones
Liver and gallbladder are a team. Bile feeds from the liver to the gallbladder where it is stored. Both need to be nourished and kept running optimally. Say good-bye to greasy, fried and packaged food and hello to colorful fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts to get to phase 2 of detoxification in the liver. Beets help to keep the bile thin. make sure your bile is flowing easily with beets, keeping the diet light and a supplement called Betafood.
Signs something is wrong: dry skin, dizzy, greasy food upsets you, itching/burning feet, gallstones, nausea, waking up every night between 1-3 a.m.
We are supposed to have some yeast to help with digestion, but a lifestyle of refined foods, antibiotic use, oral contraceptives, high stress, high alcohol use, having diabetes. It can cause it to go into overdrive and gets into the bloodstream releasing toxic by-products.
The Medical Medium says that candida is a sign you have a bigger problem, like Epstein Barr Virus.
Eat a clove or two of crushed, raw garlic every day along with the other diet recommendations.
Signs: White and geographic tongue, oral thrush, yeast infections, UTI’s, fungal infections in nails, digestive issues, strong sugar cravings, bloating…to name a few of a long list of problems.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBS is what its name infers. It is often given as the final diagnosis. IBS is a symptom (just like everything else I’m mentioning). Let’s find out what’s causing the inflammation and resolve it.
Signs: Pain in lower left abdomen, diarrhea, constipation, combination of both, gas and bloating, food intolerance, fatigue and difficulty sleeping, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Auto-immune disease. Inflammation and scarring of the intestines caused by bad bacteria, or even virus (Medical Medium) Be careful of foods like strawberries (the seeds) and broccoli. High fiber, raw foods can cause blockages. Celery juice and other green juices are perfect for getting the good stuff in without the worry of causing more inflammation.
Signs: abdominal pain especially around the belly button or lower right side, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition, blood in the stool, pain around the anus, fatigue, fever.
Auto-immune disease. Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, usually the colon and rectum that causes inflammation and ulcers.
Signs: pain in sigmoid colon, rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, urgency for bowel movement, pain, weight-loss, fatigue, fever.
Check out Dane Johnson who cured his Crohn’s and The Medical Medium’s (link above) view on Crohn’s and colitis.
Auto-immune disease. Celiac is the destruction of the intestinal villi (not just inflammation) in the small intestine. You can not consume gluten (wheat, barley and rye) if you have celiacs.
Signs: pain the abdomen or joints, bloating, gas, belching, diarrhea, fat in stool, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, or flatulence, failure to thrive in children, cramping, itching, skin rash, itching.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Bacteria should not be in the small intestine (other than vey small quantities). The bacteria will interfere absorption and digestion of fat-soluble vitamins and iron. Stay away from fermented foods as they will feed the bacteria. A FODMAP diet is recommended for SIBO. Dr. Axe has a comprehensive article in the condition and how to treat it.
Sign: bloating, nausea, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight-loss, fatigue, rashes, skin conditions, depression
The walls of your intestines become permeable; food particles get into your blood stream where they are not supposed to be. Most people are prone to it because they eat the SAD diet, are exposed to too many toxins, virus and bacteria and are way too stressed. I was diagnosed with this before it was a thing, almost 20 years ago. Understanding of this problem has come a long way.
Signs: All the above conditions, any autoimmune condition, food sensitives, inflammatory skin conditions, depression, allergies, asthma, even autism has been linked.
Your gut and brain are connected. There is no doubt about it. If your brain is not happy, neither is your gut and vice versa. This is a subject for another blog!
If you want a happy body AND a happy mind, refer to my list of do’s at the top!