What you need to know about digestive health

It is likely that you suffer from, or have suffered from, some type of digestive disorder –irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, reflux, gas, and things too gross to mention.

You are not alone. Over 100 million Americans have digestive problems. The number three and seven top selling drugs in America are for digestive problems costing us billions and billions of dollars. There are more than 200 over-the-counter remedies for digestive disorders, many of which, most unfortunately, can create additional digestive problems. Visits for intestinal disorders are among the most common to primary care doctors.

That’s not even the worst news. Most of us do not recognize or know, including most of your doctors, that digestive problems wreak havoc over your entire body leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer and more. Having a healthy stomach means more to you than just not being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn! It is central to your entire health. It is connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why I almost always start helping people treat chronic health problems by fixing their stomach. Later I will tell you how to find out if you have a problem with your stomach and how to create a healthy digestive system.

First let me explain why your stomach's health is so important. The health of your stomach determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out, and therefore it is directly linked to the health of your complete body. Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. For example, the bugs in your gut are like a rain forest – a diverse and interdependent ecosystem. They must be in balance for you to be healthy. There are 500 species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your stomach; it’s a huge chemical factory that helps you digest your food, produces vitamins, helps regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce healing compounds that keep your stomach healthy. Too many of the wrong ones like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria, or not enough of the good ones like lactobacillus or bifid bacteria can lead to serious damage to your health.

Many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the stomach, such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer and more are actually caused by stomach problems.

By focusing on healing your stomach you can get your true health back. Feeling more youthful than ever before, especially if you’re over 40 years old. Your entire immune system, and your body, is protected from the toxic environment in your stomach by a very thin cell layer. This thin layer covers a surface area the size of a tennis court—but it’s basically containing a sewer full of rotting food if food is not eaten properly. If that barrier is damaged, you will get sick and create an overactive immune system, producing inflammation throughout the body.

Then there is your second brain, your stomach nervous system. Yes, you have a second brain, which is as important for directing your bodily functions as the one in your head. Your stomach, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain. It’s highly wired back to your brain and messages are always traveling back and forth. When those messages get altered for any reason in any direction, your health will suffer. And in the midst of all of this, your stomach must breakdown all the food you eat into its individual components, separate out all the vitamins and minerals and shuttle everything across that one cell thick layer into your bloodstream for you to stay healthy.

Even in a perfect world, our stomach has a hard time keeping things balanced. But in our world there are many things that knock our digestive system off balance. What are they? Our low fiber processed flour, high sugar, processed food, nutrient poor, high calorie, high fat diet that makes all the wrong bacteria and yeast grow in the stomach leading to a damaged ecosystem. Overuse of medications that damage the stomach or block normal digestive function – things like anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, acid blocking drugs, steroids and doctor prescribed medications. What is created are chronic low-grade infections or stomach imbalances with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or even more serious stomach infections. Other outside toxins damage the stomach such as mercury and mold toxins. Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function, which can come from acid blocking medication use or zinc deficiency.

Stress is another factor that can alter the stomach nervous system causing a leaky gut and changing the normal bacteria in the stomach. It is so important to understand that many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the stomach, such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, allergies, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer and more are actually caused by stomach problems. By focusing on the stomach you can get better.

So how do you keep your gut healthy?

  • Eat whole unprocessed foods (nothing from a box or can) with plenty of fiber: vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eat real food, mostly plants, cook your own food so you know it clean.

  • If you think you have food sensitivities try an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, corn, soy, sugar, eggs anything fermented for a week or two and see how your stomach feels and what happens to your other symptoms.

  • Make sure all the food you eat is high fiber food. Like brown rice, oats, beans, nuts, whole grains (not wheat) and fresh lightly cooked and raw leafy green vegetables.

  • Treat any infections or overgrowth of bugs like parasites, small bowel bacteria, or yeasts. Many natural food stores carry body cleansing kits for parasites and yeasts. Look up all natural food body cleanses to detox and help kill bad bacteria.

  • Take digestive enzymes or always eat a small amount of raw food with every meal.

  • Take probiotics, healthy bacteria for your ecosystem.

  • Take extra cold pressed omega fatty acids supplements which help cool inflammation in the stomach.

  • Use stomach-healing nutrients such as glutamine and zinc. Drink peppermint and mint herbal tea to heal inflammation.

If you want to be healthy, you have to get your stomach working properly. If you need advice on how to do this you can contact a nutritionist, doctor or contact myself. Always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you take medications. Stop life killing habits and start learning how to let healthy living begin. Stay tune for more information about regaining your health.

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