I heard someone say “It takes 76 years to kill the human body”, and if you think about it, the human body is highly resilient. It puts up with a lot of our bad habits, yet it miraculously continues to allow us to keep living life unencumbered for a very long time, decades, for most anyway. We often don’t listen to our bodies’ complaints, yet it still lives many years with out succumbing to disease. At least in the way we think of disease – cancer and Alzheimer’s.
However, stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, constipation, even night sweats and unexplained weight loss or gain are just some of the signs of poor digestive health that people regularly live with that are symptoms of dis-ease. These symptoms are so common we start to believe these conditions are “normal”. But when these conditions are not addressed, these are the symptoms that the body is not getting its needs met, nor is it able to function properly. These are signs, but when we are told “Sucks to get old” with a pat on the back, then you continue to ignore them.
The Prevalence of Digestive Issues
A 2013 study revealed that 74% of all participants had experienced digestive discomfort for six months or more, yet only 37% sought help from their doctor. Additionally, 56% of those who experienced discomfort didn’t seek medical help because they didn’t believe their symptoms required medical attention.
Ignoring the Signs
Ignoring digestive issues is a dangerous approach to take. Sometimes digestive distress is symptomatic of a deeper medical issue that requires medical attention. It is important to learn more if you experience ongoing or severe digestive symptoms, they are not just part of getting old. That’s the conventional medical models standard answer, when the truth is they just were not taught how important the digestive tracts for one’s health and often they are not aware of the latest science linking the gut to just about ever chronic dis-ease.
What if it’s Nothing Serious?
The good news is that if a diagnosed digestive disease is not the reason for your symptoms, it’s often possible to get your digestion back on track by making a few targeted diet and lifestyle tweaks.
Good Digestion: It All Starts With Chewing Your Food
When your digestive system is acting up, the first step should always be to go back to the basics. Simple but effective, chewing your food properly supports the digestive process and makes nutrient absorption easier for your body. That is because chewing starts the digestive process. Mechanically, it breaks food into smaller pieces to increase its surface area so that your digestive enzymes can get to work more effectively. Chemically, chewing also triggers the production of saliva which contains the first enzyme in a cascade of different enzymes, each triggering the next to achieve complete digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food.
Eating too quickly, while distracted or on the go are often reasons we don’t chew our food well enough. It is more important than many of us realize to set aside ample time to enjoy your meals. If this is new for you, try scheduling meal times like any other priority to help fortify the habit in the beginning.
Digestive Health Tests Can Uncover Imbalances
Optimizing digestive health is an area where Integrative, Functional and Naturopathic medicine excel. We often run state-of-the-art laboratory tests to see what is really going on. We have a full toolbox of strategies to evaluate your digestion and uncover issues that may be at the root of your symptoms, including:
- Stool testing to check your unique microbiome of bacteria and yeasts
- Testing for markers of inflammation
- Checking pancreatic enzyme levels
- Checking for food intolerances and immune markers, as well as celiac antibodies
- Testing for nutritional deficiencies, diabetes indicators, liver function, stress hormones and more.
Lifestyle Tools to Support Good Digestion
1 – Eat a Digestion-Focused Diet
What you eat matters. Nutrient dense, fiber-rich foods filled with enzymes help your meals move through your digestive system. We are spoiled for choice, and have a variety of vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruit available to us year round.
High Fiiber foods absorb water and other fluids to form a gel-like substance that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system and soothes the gut wall. This helps provide bulk, which eases the passing of waste through your system.
Reducing sugar and caffeine also aids in the digestive process by reducing irritation that is often caused by gas and unfriendly bacteria – the bacteria that causes gas and cramping feeds off sugar and multiplies. Stevia is a good alternative to sugar and consider Rooibos tea to give you a bit of energy midday rather than that extra cup of coffee, as caffeine can be irritating to the digestive tract.
Eating probiotic rich, fermented foods like unsweetened probiotic yogurt, kimchi, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut helps as well. Probiotics battle bad bacteria in your digestive system and lower the pH levels in the colon which supports your gut lining and aids in absorbing nutrients.
Lastly, fats encourage gallbladder function and thus support the absorption of minerals from your food. Healthy options including avocados, nuts, seeds and their oils as well as fatty fish are all great ways to support your digestive cascade while nourishing your body the right way.
Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration and constipation go hand in hand. Water is needed to produce digestive enzymes, it helps move nutrients from your food into your cells, it supports your fiber intake by keeping soluble fiber hydrated and puffy so it can do its job of “sweeping” the digestive tract, and it is a crucial part of muscle movement – remember that your gut is a long tube made up of muscles that need to contract in a co-ordinated wave-like motion.
Reduce Stress, Especially at Mealtimes
In “fight or flight” mode the body redirects water from your digestive system to serve the immediate survival need, so high stress over time causes constipation and a host of digestive symptoms. Keeping stress low is particularly important during mealtimes as the body needs to be in a state of calm for digestion to occur at all.
Slow down and make a conscious effort to sit down at a table to eat your meal. Turn off any screens, take slow, deep breaths and pay attention to the pleasure of good food, and if you’re lucky, good company. This will help put your body into “rest and digest” mode and enable the body to do what it needs to do next in the digestive cascade.
Make Sure to Move
Digestive health pioneer Dr. Bernard Jensen famously said “After your meal, sit a while, then walk a mile.” Research has shown us that exercise can indeed improve the rate at which you digest food. Gravity and movement stimulate peristalsis by helping to trigger various “fullness” receptors in your colon, which triggers healthy peristalsis to push your digested food through the digestive tract at a regular pace. Exercise is also a great stress reducer, which may explain how hearty your appetite for a healthy meal can be post-workout.
3 Steps To Total Gut Restoration
The three fundamental aspects of gut health include: the microbial population, physical structures, and regulatory immune function. A healthy gut microbiome is multi-faceted and relies heavily upon all 3 of these factors, like a three-legged stool. For this reason, therapies that only address one of these facets do not typically provide total restoration of a dysfunctional GI tract.
The Microbiome Labs Total Gut Restoration Program is uniquely designed to target all 3 of these areas, providing you with the highly effective tools to maintain optimal health.*
MegaSporeBiotic™️ is the first step in the Total Gut Restoration system which RECONDITIONS your gut and restores balance to your gut bacteria by increasing microbial diversity and maintaining key health-promoting gut bacteria.
MegaPreBiotic™️ REINFORCES the beneficial microbial changes created by MegaSporeBiotic™️ to promote a strong and diverse microbiome.
MegaMucosa™️ is the first complete mucosal support supplement of its kind, formulated with key amino acids to REBUILD a healthy mucosal barrier.*
It will take about 3 months to complete this program, though it may be longer, depending on your symptoms.
Who Is This For?
This program is for anyone who struggles with digestive symptoms like food intolerances, bloating, hormonal imbalance, inability for weight loss, constipation/diarrhea, skin rashes, inflammation/pain, moodiness, insomnia, or other annoying symptoms.
What Is Included
- 3 bottles of MegaSpore (This provides one for each of the standard three months.)
- 2 bottles of MegaPreBiotic (This is added during month 2, so this supply should last for about 2 months.)
- 1 bottle of MegaMucosa (This is added during the third and final month, so this supply lasts about 1 month.)
To learn more information about the Total Gut Restoration program or to place an order, click here.
We are Here to Help
Don’t let poor digestion cramp your style! If you’re experiencing digestive distress, book an appointment with me, and together we’ll get your digestion back on track. I’m here to help.
Click here to schedule your 20 Minute Free Consult to see if this is right for you!
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Patricia JJ, Dhamoon AS. Physiology, Digestion. [Updated 2021 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544242/
Schloetter, M., Mietus-Synder, M. et al. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Dr. Bernard Jensen. Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care: A Complete Program for Tissue Cleansing through Bowel Management. Avery; 1190th ed. edition (Sept. 1 1998)
*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE