Once our food has made its way to the 20-foot long small intestine, enzymes are secreted by the pancreas to further digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The pancreas also makes insulin, which helps to control blood sugar. Too many processed foods can weaken the pancreas over time, and digestion, as well as insulin production, can be adversely affected. You may need to support your pancreas when you eat processed foods by taking digestive enzymes.
About 90% or more of the nutrients from what we eat is absorbed in the small intestine, which is lined with finger-like villi. These villi contain digestive enzymes that finish preparing the food for absorption. Villi also help prevent “leaky gut” by letting in the good and keeping out the bad, similar to using a strainer. When villi become damaged due to inflammation, they can no longer do there job efficiently.
Damage resulting from inflammation can come from many sources, including the malfunction of other organs, like the stomach not producing enough stomach acid or removal of the gall bladder. Other pro-inflammatory conditions include a poor diet (including food sensitivities), fungal and parasitic infections, medications, and toxins.
When the villi can no longer properly absorb nutrients and keep out what doesn’t belong in the bloodstream, inflammation can affect the entire body. This can trigger an immune system response, and, when chronic, can turn into an autoimmune condition.
Some ways to stop inflammation and improve a “leaky gut” condition:
Remove food sensitivities (you may need to get an IgG Antibody Test). You can also use a food journal to write down what you eat and drink, how you feel, and poop observations. Eliminate any suspect foods for two weeks, and then reintroduce them, one at a time, over a three-day period, to see if you have any negative reactions.
Eat fresh produce, organic meats, fermented foods, and bone broth.
Stop eating hydrogenated oils (soy, canola, corn, vegetable, cottonseed, etc.).
Stop eating refined sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup).
Stop eating fast foods and packaged foods.
After nutrient absorption, what remains enters the large intestine, or colon. Some additional nutrients are absorbed there, especially fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). This is where beneficial bacteria (probiotics) assist in digestion–about 90% are located in the colon.
The final step in digestion is the timely elimination of waste. The average time for stool to pass through the colon is about 36 hours. If constipation is a problem, probiotics may help, as well as flax or extra-virgin olive oil, which help to lubricate the colon for easier passage. Fiber, found in whole plant foods, is important for moving waste along, as well as for feeding the good intestinal bacteria. Water is another crucial element for helping to prevent chronic constipation.
Some ways to help remedy constipation:
Include healthy fats in your daily diet, eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber, drink approximately half your body weight in ounces of pure water, and take probiotics as needed.
Keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant
1 Corinthians 10:31–Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.