Are you chasing a 2014 health goal? You may need to address your digestion, before enjoying true health and happiness!
The intricate digestive system includes a group of organs together with the long gastrointestinal tract (gut), which runs from the mouth, all the way to the other end (yes, your anus). The overall function is to break down, absorb nutrients and excrete waste from the foods consumed over the day. Ultimately this provides energy and nutrients to nourish the whole body.
The Mouth, Oesophagus, Liver, Spleen, Stomach, Gallbladder, Pancreas, Small Intestine (Duodenum, Jejunum, Ileum), Ileocecal valve, Cecum, Appendix, Large intestine (Ascending colon, Transverse colon, Descending colon, Sigmoid colon), Rectum and Anus, all play their important role to allow proper digestion to take place.
The humble digestive system, controls much more than processing the food you eat in order to gain energy. There are important connections between the gut and other systems of the body. Did you know that up to 80% of the immune system is found in the gut? A vital link exists between brain and gut health. Dr Natasha McBride states in her book ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome,’
“…nearly every disease originates in your digestive system. This includes both physical and mental disease.”
What can go wrong in the gut?
There are many underlying drivers behind a weakened digestion and gut protection. Being primarily bottle fed as a baby, C-section births, genetic predispositions, poor diet and dietary habits (such as eating too quickly, on the run, or in a stressful environment), food poisoning, exposure to genetically modified and foods farmed using toxic chemical sprays, stress, alcohol, drugs, antibiotics and other medications are among these. Overtime, they can lead to:
- Poor stomach acid and digestive enzyme production. Stomach acid is required to digest minerals from the food we eat. Acid makes the protein digestion enzymes work and triggers the release of other digestive enzymes. It also helps the gallbladder contract and encourages the bowel to move its contents through. When you eat food, the stomach secretes acid and enzymes. When there is enough acid, the stomach will empty. If this process is sluggish, the stomach will continue to churn its contents for hours and this can cause acid regurgitation up the oesophagus (also known as heartburn, reflux or indigestion), among other digestive discomfort symptoms.
- Imbalanced bacteria (dysbiosis). Your gut houses both beneficial and detrimental bacteria, but they should be in a ratio of good to bad 10:1.
- Presence of parasites and fungal overgrowth.
- Compromised protective layer of the gastrointestinal tract (leaky gut, ulcers, inflammation).
- Inadequate detoxification of toxins.
- Abnormal enteric nervous system function (increased pain sensitivity)
- Lowered or increased immune mediated reactions (Secretory IgA, IgG, IgA and IgE antibodies).
These issues can cause allergic reactions toward certain foods and lead to chronic health conditions.
What does a food allergy cause?
An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to certain proteins from food eaten. This process produces immunoglobulins called antibodies, in an effort to protect the body from the deemed dangerous allergen. A significant amount of inflammation is produced and may affect the function and feeling of the body.
Food allergies can manifest through a number of signs, symptoms and conditions. These are the most common I see in my Naturopathic clinic:
- Bloating and stomach discomfort.
- Foul smelling flatulence.
- Fluid retention and weight gain.
- Low energy and chronic fatigue.
- Headaches and Migraines
- Running nose
- Sinus congestion and pain.
- Asthma symptoms.
- Feeling run down.
- Muscle and joint aches and pains.
- Autoimmune disease (crohns and hashimotos)
- Irritable bowel symptoms (constipation and/ or diarrhea)
- Hives, eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders.
- Anxiety, depression, mood and behavioural issues.
The most harmful reaction as a result of the food allergy is the major production of inflammation. Inflammation further damages the gut lining and is associated with the production of oxidised (very harmful) cholesterol in the body.
What can you do about it?
Find a Naturopath, Nutritionist or Integrative Dr who performs an IgG immune reaction food test. In Australia, I recommend the ImuPro300, a simple blood test which will help you to discover the degree of any food allergy reactions and therefore the need to either rotate or eliminate your personal food triggers.
The empowering results, personal eating plan and recipes allow you to begin your journey of gut healing and notice common improvements such as clearer skin, less pain, a flat stomach, vibrant energy levels and happy moods. Get the gut right and you can reach your true health and happiness potential.
Kasey Willson ND