It is incredibly important to quickly and efficiently digest whatever you eat for optimal gut health! Here’s a few reasons why we should avoid burdening our systems.
- More than 70% of the immune system is located in the gut!
- Over the course of a lifetime, the digestive system will process approximately 23,000 pounds of solid food.
- Our bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10:1, most of which reside in the gut.
Dysbiosis is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. The brain and the gut are on a two-way street of constant communication. New research shows that gut bacteria communicates with and influences brain function. The gut brain produces a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the head brain.
What Happens When Food Is Not Properly Broken Down (Remains Undigested)?
- Nutrients cannot be properly absorbed & utilized.
- Bad bacteria feeds on undigested food (i.e. putrefaction), releasing by-products (toxins, free radicals and gases). Leading to:
- Embarrassing & uncomfortable symptoms (i.e. gas, bloating)
- Depletion of friendly bacteria (probiotics) & risk of infection/overgrowth (i.e. candida)
- Damage to digestive lining (i.e. “leaky gut”)
What is “Leaky Gut”?
The mucous layer that lines the digestive tract shields the bloodstream from unwanted toxins, pathogens and undigested food. “Leaky gut syndrome” is a condition that develops when this lining becomes porous, allowing food particles & toxins through; potentially causing food sensitivities, liver toxicity, and an inflammatory immune reaction throughout the body. This mucous lining is made up mostly of the amino sugar N-Acteyl-Glucosamine (C-NAG), which the body makes from the amino acid, L-glutamine. These are important gut repair nutrients!
A Bit About Enzymes…
- What Are They? Protein molecules (plus a co-factor vitamin or mineral) used to trigger & regulate biochemical reactions in the body.
- Food – naturally contained in raw, whole foods.
- Digestive – occur naturally in the mouth, stomach, intestines & pancreas. Used to break down food into small, digestible components the body can use.
- Metabolic – naturally produced in cells for growth/repair/maintenance/detoxification
- Causes of Deficiency:
- Raw foods may contain less enzymes as they should, due to environmental factors.
- Body’s ability to produce enzymes is decreased by stress, caffeine, alcohol, illness, pregnancy, pancreatitis, gallbladder removal, pH imbalance, toxicity, aging and poor nutrition (lack of vitamins/minerals/electrolytes).
- Food enzymes are destroyed/inhibited by processing, high heat, refining, canning, irradiation, added chemicals, phytic acid (natural inhibitor), exposure to air & light.
- Besides moisture, enzymes require three things to activate: proper temperature, pH (acid -> protein or alkaline -> starches), and a specific material to break down/digest!
What is Stomach Acid (HCl) necessary for?
-mineral (iron, copper, zinc, calcium) and protein assimilation
-protection against pathogens and candida
-helping decrease enzyme workload in intestines
-necessary to trigger peristalsis and release of bile and bicarbonate in intestines for proper digestion and elimination.
Symptoms of low stomach acid include: low energy, nutrient deficiencies, weak immunity, heartburn, leaky gut/inflammation, constipation, gas/bloating, liver toxicity, high cholesterol.
Potential Causes of Underactive Stomach
-B Vitamin/Zinc Deficiencies, Large Meals, Poor Diet (refined/processed foods)
-Stress, Smoking, Caffeine, Antacid Overuse
-Underactive Thyroid, Aging (HCL production naturally decreases)
-Poor Eating Habits (i.e. not chewing, drinking during meals, rushed meals)
Did you know? 90% of Heartburn (Acid Reflux) Is Caused by Low Stomach Acid, Not High!
Try The Acid Self-Test: Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach. No Pain/Sensation = LOW Stomach Acid!
Tips to Improve Digestion!
o Food Selection: whole, unprocessed, fresh, organic, soaked, sprouted, fermented, non-allergenic foods.
o Food Combining: eat fruit alone & avoid high protein + high starch foods together.
o Eating Habits: chew food well (30-40 chews per bite), eat slowly in a relaxed and mindful (rest and digest) state, do not drink while eating, avoid carbonated beverages.
o Lifestyle: exercise regularly, manage stress, consider a detox.
o Supplements: digestive enzymes (+ Betaine HCl if necessary), bitter ingredients, probiotics. Other helpful soothing ingredients include: ginger, peppermint, chamomile, fennel, anise, caraway, slippery elm, marshmallow, licorice, etc.
For many people, taking supplemental digestive enzymes is an ideal way to make sure their food is broken down properly, and that they are absorbing all the nutrients! Look for plant enzyme formulas that address every type of food group including; proteins (protease), fats (lipase), carbohydrates (amylase), dairy (lactase), etc. There are also some enzymes that the human body cannot produce but when taken, can be very helpful. For example, cellulase breaks down plant fibre, invertase breaks down refined sugars, and phytase breaks down phytates (which can block absorption of important minerals).
-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach –