The health of the body’s immune system is directly related to its ability to digest and utilize food.
Every cell in the body is dependent upon digestion for the nutrients needed to function properly. If the digestive process is less than optimal, parasites, Candida, leaky gut and food allergies can develop preventing absorption of nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can cause inadequate function of cellular and organ systems leaving the body vulnerable to health problems.
Causes of Poor Digestion
•Stress. The digestive system needs the body to be relaxed in order to secrete the important digestive acids and enzymes needed to break down food for proper absorption. Eating on the run or while working does not allow the body to relax and the digestive process is dramatically hampered.
•Eating too Fast. The chewing process physically breaks down food into smaller pieces and stimulates the brain to produce saliva that contains a complex of electrolytes, hormones and enzymes that begin the breakdown of carbohydrates and encourages the intestines to contract and eliminate wastes.
•Gastric Juices. HCL (hydrochloric acid) and other gastric juices are produced in the stomach to help digest protein. Stress, excess carbohydrate consumption, nutrient deficiencies and excess alcohol can prevent HCL production. Low HCL means a low pH in the stomach creating an environment favorable to Candida, prions, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which are all little proteins. Proper pH helps the body to digest theses microorganisms and they become food. Gastric atrophy along with reduced hydrochloric acid in the stomach may be some of the preliminary factors involved in the Helicobacter pylori infection that can lead to ulcers. GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is caused by low HCL and the resulting inability of the body to break down food properly. The food gets rancid and putrefies causing reflux or backward flow into the esophagus. The esophagus lining cannot handle acidic foods from the stomach and burning results. Antacids raise the pH, of the rancid food, to neutral and stop the burning in the esophagus but make the digestive condition in the stomach too alkaline. The lack of the proper amount of stomach acid prevents the triggering of other important digestive processes further down the line.
•Gallbladder problems. Gallbladder dysfunction is related to poor quality fats or low fat diets that do not trigger the release of bile causing it to get too thick. The lack of bile prevents the body from being able to digest and utilize fats. Fats help the body make hormones, build cell walls, control the inflammatory process and much, much more. Undigested fats can be a contributing factor in food allergies.
Poorly digested foods degenerate the colon, disrupting the healthy flora, which is where most of the immune system is located. As the colon weakens, inflammation, and loss of tone occurs leading to many forms of bowel disorder along with poor nutrient absorption.
Repairing the Damage
Some natural ways to repair the intestine include naturally fermented probiotic liquids, cultured foods, butter, L-glutamine, fiber, and coconut.
Naturally fermented probiotic foods and liquids contain the necessary good bacteria to rebuild the microflora and are predigested so that the body can absorb the nutrients more easily. When food is cultured or fermented it is more nutritionally dense providing B vitamins, minerals and amino acids, all of which are needed for proper functioning of the various organ systems including digestion. The re-establishing of the microflora, in the intestine, is vital for the health of the immune system. The microflora helps the body detoxify, digest food and create certain necessary nutrients in the colon. Probiotic foods include unsweetened, plain yogurt, kefir, cultured vegetables, kombucha, beet kvass and naturally fermented probiotic liquids.
Butter helps to rebuild the lining of the intestine. Butter contains butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that is the main fuel of the cells in the colon. The inability of the colon bacteria to properly metabolize butyric acid has been associated with ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. (Organic, grass fed butter is best.)
Coconut oil helps to kill Candida, bad bacteria and viruses and has been helpful with various colon disorders. Dried coconut is a good source of fiber and can absorb excess moisture in the intestine helping to slow down diarrhea. Coconut oil and butter do not have to be digested by the gallbladder because they are medium chain fatty acids that are utilized by the body as energy, not stored as fat.
L-glutamine helps with the maintenance of the lining of the intestine. The digestive track uses glutamine for healing and as a source of fuel. It helps to heal stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and other bowel diseases.
Aloe Vera is very soothing to the digestive tract and helps heal the mucous membranes. It can also relieve constipation.
The temporary use of an HCL supplement and gall bladder support can be helpful (in sufficient dosages) if there are no ulcers or chronic inflammation. Digestive enzymes may also be needed. If ulcers or chronic inflammation are present, a temporary healing program must be implemented first.
Finally, since there are many vitamins and minerals used in the digestive process, it would be a good idea to add a whole food multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily.
Beverly is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and healed herself from mercury poisoning, chemical sensitivities, candida and allergies using nutrition.