Fix Your Gut, Fix Your Health

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!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

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.

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Fix Your Gut, Fix Your Health–the Stomach

Last week, we covered the importance of chewing your food long enough to allow it to mix thoroughly with the carbohydrate-digesting enzyme, amylase, before it enters your stomach.  Hopefully, you’ve been practicing this first step in digestion.

After chewing, the predigested food enters your stomach, where it is mixed and ground into a liquid called chyme (Greek for “juice”).  Hydrochloric acid (HCI) and pepsin help to accomplish this second step of digestion, as well as helping to digest proteins.   HCl is strong enough to corrode metals, so it is beneficial for killing pathogens like parasites, bacteria, and viruses.  Digestion may be inefficient at destroying these pathogens and breaking down proteins when there is insufficient hydrochloric acid and pepsin.

Acid Reflux is most likely caused by a lack of stomach acid, rather than too much.  Taking antacids may offer temporary relief but do not get to the root of the problem.  As we age, the stomach may produce less HCl.  This can lead to nutritional deficiencies, including protein and calcium.

Belching could be a sign of poor digestion.  If the belching is accompanied by a rotten egg odor and/or a taste in the mouth, this may be a sign that proteins are not being properly digested.

Self-test:  First thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything, drink 4 to 6 ounces of water to which 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda has been added.  Don’t gulp the water.  Time yourself for up to 5 minutes.  The sooner you belch (within 1 to 2 minutes), the better the indication that you have a good amount of stomach acid.  The longer it takes (3 to 5 minutes), the lower your stomach acid may be.

Some tips:

Chew your food well before swallowing.

Eat smaller meals (overeating is hard on the stomach and requires more digestive juices).

Don’t drink large amounts of liquids with meals.  Drink a glass of water before a meal, and then just sip as needed during a meal.  If you are staying well hydrated throughout the day, you shouldn’t be thirsty while eating.

Consider taking plant-based digestive enzymes with meals (1 or 2 as needed) to help break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

If you have low stomach acid, you may need digestive enzymes that contain HCl and Pepsin.  Don’t take these if you have ulcers.  Start with only 1 capsule when you eat a meal that contains protein.  Next time, take 2, then 3, etc., until you feel a warm sensation in your stomach.  Back up to the number you took before you felt the warm sensation.  This will be your optimal amount.  Don’t take these long-term.  The goal is to strengthen your production of hydrochloric acid and pepsin through a healthy diet and lifestyle so you won’t be dependent on supplements.  An exception might be for the elderly who are in a chronically weakened condition.

Take a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in 4 ounces of water before a meal, or mix it in a salad.  This not only aids digestion, but it has also been proven to lower blood sugar by as much as 30% when taken a few minutes before a meal.

Enjoy a cup of organic peppermint leaf tea to help with indigestion.

Aloe vera juice is very soothing in cases of indigestion and Acid Reflux.

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!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Proactazyme Plus Plant-Based Enzymes, PDA Combination with HCl and Pepsin, Papaya Mint Chewables Digestive Aid, Aloe Vera Juice)

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www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

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.

The Essentials–Enzymes

Enzymes are the “spark plugs of life”.  They are essential for regulating many functions of the body, including digestion.  Without sufficient digestive enzymes, the nutrients in our food cannot be fully digested and assimilated, contributing to low energy, weight problems, and a myriad of health issues.

When foods are cooked over 120 degrees, their enzymes are destroyed.  Processed packaged foods are devoid of enzymes, due to heating and the addition of enzyme inhibitors to prevent spoilage and prolong shelf life.  Pasteurization kills the enzyme lactase, which digests the milk sugar lactose, which may be one of the reasons so many people are lactose intolerant.  Americans are eating mostly processed and cooked foods!  Raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds contain natural enzymes, and Americans are eating very few of these!

The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes, and it begins to weaken with age in  response to the demand placed upon it.  When it is constantly meeting the needs of digestion, there are fewer enzymes available for work and repair elsewhere in the body, including those needed by the immune system.  Chronic digestion problems can lead to chronic inflammation due to undigested foods perceived by the immune system as foreign invaders.  This could be one cause of so many autoimmune conditions.

Digestion is key to good health!  Eat more raw plant foods.  Consider taking a plant-based digestive enzyme, especially when eating cooked and packaged foods.  I supplement with a plant-based enzyme by Nature’s Sunshine called Proactazyme Plus Capsules, and I carry Papaya Mint Chewable Tablets in my purse.  Papaya contains the enzyme papain that helps to digest proteins, and peppermint stimulates digestion secretions.  My grandchildren love these, too!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat disease, and it does not take the place of any medical advice or care that you may need.