'You are what you eat' is an old adage that we all have heard many times. But if you take a moment to analyze that statement, there is much truth in it. In reality, the digestive system is an integral part of a person’s overall health. This vital system protects the body from harmful invaders and is where approximately 70% of a person’s immune system comes from. It is responsible to help prevent you from getting sick from bacterial or viral infections, easily developing seasonal and/or environmental allergies, auto- immune disorders, cancers and other diseases. The full functionality of the immune system depends on the overall healthiness of the digestive tract.
Good & Bad Bacteria
The ‘good’ bacteria in your gut (stomach and intestines) breaks down the consumed food into vital nutrients that can help repair the body’s cells, stimulate growth, and give proper energy to the body. Conversely, there are also bad bacteria, commonly found in processed foods and sugars, that the digestive system constantly fights. While bad bacteria exist in your gut, it is important to note that the good bacteria consistently balance your gut to maintain your digestive system functioning normally.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
When there is an imbalance in your stomach, inflammations open small holes along the walls of the small intestine and leak undigested particles of food and toxins into your blood stream. This is commonly called ‘leaky gut syndrome’. This reaction disrupts the normal food process in the body. The immune system immediately soon recognizes these food particles as invading antigens and increases their response to attack them, releasing histamines, which are anti- inflammatory agents commonly found in allergies or in allergic reactions. Common symptoms of this reaction include bloating, cramps, stomachache, indigestion, irritable bowels, and food sensitivities.
Aside from bloating and cramps, you might also experience mood changes, fatigue, eczema (a chronic skin condition), and joint discomfort. This is because dysfunction in the gut can affect all areas of the body. The gastrointestinal system contains one of the most abundant amounts of regulatory neurotransmitters within the human body. Serotonin, a chemical and a neurotransmitter that influences mood, is highly concentrated in the gut and can alter your mood depending on how well your digestion is.
What Causes Imbalances In Your Gut Bacteria?
There are foods and habits that can cause imbalances in your gut bacteria. Processed foods with preservatives and sugar, alcohol, drugs, and even stress can damage the good bacteria in your stomach. Regular usage of antibiotics can decrease the level of good bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut since the medicine is used to eliminate bacteria within the body.
To maintain a good balance and to keep the immune and the digestive system at an optimal level, the good bacteria in the gut along with specialized immune cells and hormones work together. Good sources containing probiotics to help increase the healthy bacteria in your gut include yogurt, kefir (a mix between yogurt and milk), kimchi, blue algae, soymilk, brined olives, and pickles. Another option is to take probiotic supplements.
There are foods that may be too difficult for the body to digest, however, the body has digestive enzymes which are utilized to break down foods for our bodies to absorb nutrients properly. Certain enzyme supplements like protease can break down protein and carbohydrates, amylase breaks down starch, and lactase assists in the digestion of milk and dairy food. Other enzymes such as glucoamylase and malt diastase can also help with overall digestion of your food.
Omega-3, found abundantly in fish oils and planted based foods such as nuts and olives, is also a good nutrient for reducing irritation to the gut. Glutamine can help heal the damaged lining of the intestines due to inflammation and enlarged pores.
The simple, basic rule and the crux of good digestion is purely to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eliminate processed sugar and foods along with decreasing any alcohol consumption and replace fast-foods with fresh fruits and vegetables such as salads, meat without injected antibiotics, and whole grains.
My Name is John Kim
I have been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. When I first started my acupuncture career, my primary goal as a practitioner was to help people anguishing from living with pain everyday of their lives. I have seen on numerous occasions what chronic pain can do to a person physically but also seen how it can debilitate a person’s psyche as well.
Fast Relief Acupuncture is dedicated to guiding you through these challenging times. We pride ourselves in introducing, educating, and offering a safe and natural way to help improve your body’s overall function. We look forward to getting you on the road to complete recovery!
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