Burden and scope of the problem of poor digestive health

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, there are 95 million people in the US who suffer from digestive problems. Some 60 million are thought to suffer from heartburn, and 50 million from irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, it is estimated that around 20 million people suffer from stomach ulcers.

Additionally, each year, over $50 billion are spent on products (prescription and over-the-counter) to relieve various digestive symptoms.

Acid reflux, GERD, diverticulosis, diverticulitis and colitis are all on the rise, and they're affecting the young as well as the old.

A well-maintained digestive system is the root of good health. It’s where you get nutrition to reach every cell in your body, and it plays a vital role in immune function. For example, did you know that 80% of your immune functioning is in your gut? If your gut is irritated, inflamed or constipated, it cannot do its job and your health will steadily decline.

But despite the importance of good digestion to our health, few healthcare practitioners ask their patients about whether they have healthy, regular bowel movements. In one survey, over 85% of new patient referrals to a clinic reported digestive problems including gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Many have been told they have irritable bowel syndrome, but have not been offered any solutions for real relief.

What causes digestive problems?

Most of us don’t realize the importance of the beneficial bacteria that reside in our intestines. These microorganisms, also called intestinal flora, help make nutrients accessible to our cells, and prevent pathogens, allergens and toxins from entering the bloodstream.

Beneficial bacteria are in constant competition with unhealthy bacteria that also seek to colonize your gut. When this ratio of good to bad bacteria becomes imbalanced, digestive symptoms arise.

Poor diet is the number one reason for imbalanced intestinal flora. The typical American diet starves good bacteria of fiber and other nutrients they need to flourish, while providing ample sugar and animal fat that feeds unhealthy bacteria. Chronic use of antibiotics and steroids, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and chronic stress exacerbate the problem.

Many women find that their digestive symptoms worsen during certain times of their menstrual cycle. Part of the reason for this is the fluctuating ratio of estrogen to progesterone, which affects gut motility. During perimenopause, when hormone levels become less predictable and fluctuate more dramatically, digestive symptoms often worsen or increase in frequency.

Natural means to heal your digestive tract

Some important steps to a healthier diet and lifestyle include:
First, minimize sugar and processed foods and eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Try a digestive enzyme supplement with meals, especially if you have difficulty digesting legumes. Drink plenty of water and chew your food well. Take daily medical-grade dietary supplements.

If you suspect certain foods are causing your discomfort, try an elimination diet to identify any allergies or sensitivities. The most common culprits are gluten (wheat), lactose (dairy), corn, sugar, coffee and citrus. You might also consider getting yourself checked for parasites, which are more common than most people realize.
Consume fermented foods in your diet. You may also wish to try a high-quality supplement with probiotics. There is a tremendous range of bacteria and yeast that may help your gut. Asian have been consuming fermented soy foods for centuries for its medicinal properties to promote good health.

Traditional fermented soy foods include tempeh, miso, soy sauces, natto and fermented tofu and soymilk products. In Asia, the traditional fermented soy foods are considered to have more health promoting benefits when consumed in moderate amounts than the super-processed soy products that are consumed in the West. Miso, a fermented or probiotic form of soyabean, is particularly rich in the isoflavone aglycones, genistein and daizein, which are believed to be cancer chemopreventatives.

The fermentation process is thought to convert the isoflavone precursors genistin and daidzin to their active anti-cancer isoflavone forms, genistein and daidzein.
Cook or flavor foods naturally with herbs such as ginger, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil and garlic. The use of spices such as turmeric have also been shown to be beneficial in maintaining and improving intestinal flora, promoting digestion of proteins and fats and improving elimination of wastes and toxins. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric has powerful natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Ginger, the underground stem, or rhizome, of the plant Zingiber officinale has been used as a medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times. In China, for example, ginger has been used to aid digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Since ancient times, ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. In addition to these medicinal uses, ginger continues to be valued around the world as an important cooking spice and is believed to help the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even painful menstrual periods.

The protein-digesting enzymes found in bromelain help promote and maintain proper digestion and may relieve symptoms of stomach upset or heartburn, particularly when used in conjunction with other enzymes such as amylase (which digests starch) and lipase (which digests fat). Similarly, an animal study suggests that the antibacterial effects of bromelain may help to control diarrhea caused by bacteria.
Finally, make a priority to use stress relieving techniques such as meditation practice 20 minutes twice a day, regular massages and exercise regime including daily walks, yoga, tai-chi tec.

Conclusion

A holistic approach to gut health can solve your symptoms and get you on the path to natural wellness. Regardless of your specific digestive symptoms, the underlying causes are usually the same: chronic low-grade inflammation. The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to reclaim digestive health, quickly and easily. When you do, you’ll not only eliminate your digestive symptoms, you’ll build a foundation for overall wellness.

JIVA supplements provide short-term relief as well as long-term digestive wellness.

JIVA Fermented Soy and Curcumin Nutritional Beverage and JIVA Curcumin and Fermented Soy capsules are comprised of whole organic soy bean that is fermented by probiotic bacteria such as L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. plantarum and S. thermophilus. These beneficial probiotic bacteria used in the fermentation process yield healthy cell wall contents and metabolites which promote optimal immune function and intestinal health.

JIVA Ginger Plus Capsules contain ginger, Vitamin C, bromelain and milk thistle and supports:
• Healthy digestive, gastrointestinal and liver functions.
• Help prevent and relieve nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness and other causes
• Healthy inflammation response
• Healthy immune system functioning

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Vijaya Nair is an esteemed medical researcher and epidemiologist with a passion for integrating Eastern approaches with Western medical and scientific training. A native of Singapore, she earned her medical degree from the National University of Singapore in psychiatry. Dr. Nair later immigrated to the United States, where she received a master’s degree in epidemiology from Columbia University and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. jivasupplements.org

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