If we lump all the different type of digestive problems together, collectively they are the number one reason for hospitalization. Easily, 20% of my geriatric patients are on one or more prescriptions for acid reflux, GERD, etc. Why are digestive problems so prevalent? Let’s look at some probable causes. Just about all of these are related to lifestyle in violation of natural laws, i.e., one or more of the six essentials to health and wellness, i.e., what you eat, what you drink how you rest, how you exercise, how you breathe, and what you think.
We are eating too many processes foods and not enough nutrient, fiber-rich, colorful foods, depleting us of necessary vitamins and minerals for adequate stomach acid secretion and pancreatic enzyme production. We tend to eat too much protein. We tend to eat too fast, not chew long enough, and swallow big chunks which cause more work for our stomachs to try to break down. In fact, the digestion of our food starts in the mouth, so it’s important that we chew our food until it is near liquid. Try to drink fluids before your meals so you’re not washing the food down. It’s important that you eat when you’re relaxed and not talking about, or thinking about negative emotional events. These negative thoughts will halt your digestion. Negative thoughts produce a fight/flight syndrome (sympathetic dominance autonomic function) which causes tight muscles, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and decreased digestion function. If you’re running from a bear, you don’t have time to ! Eating in a relaxed or cheerful atmosphere will be more conducive for digestion. Eating too much, and then lying down can cause problems. It is better to keep moving after a meal. Too many of us eat too much, too late, and not allow our stomachs to empty before lying down.
As we age, and we continue to eat imbalanced (eat too many refined foods, too much animal protein, not enough fruits and vegetables), we lose our ability to secrete hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Our stomach, by design, is supposed to be extremely acidic (pH 1 to 3), acidic enough to eat a hole in the floor. Our stomach acidity is our first line of defense against microorganisms. The acidity is necessary to trigger pancreatic enzymes and bile secretion into the duodenum (upper small intestine. If we eat large protein meals and there is inadequate hydrochloric secretion, our food putrefies in our small intestine because of a lack of pancreatic enzymes. Inorganic acids are formed which irritate the lining of our stomach and lower esophagus. Lack of hydrochloric secretion has been linked to the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach not closing, allowing reflux of stomach contents. Likewise, if we’re eating too many refined carbohydrates at the end of the meal, this can slow down stomach secretion and cause indigestion, causing the protein to stay in the stomach too long, acid reflux, and GERD. It has been my experience that most people diagnosed with GERD or acid reflux were under-secreting hydrochloric acid, not over-secreting acid, and appropriate supplementation corrected the problem.
So digestion starts in the mouth, goes to the stomach, and then enzymes from the pancreas and bile salts from the gallbladder empty and mix up with the contents from the stomach, and this all takes place in the small intestine, where the nutrients are absorbed. A lack of raw food factor can affect the pancreas over time as well, as does excess sugar and alcohol. The wrong kind of fatty acids in a diet will affect the gallbladder. Your bile salts break down your fats. If you don’t have a gallbladder, how are you going to get the nutrients found in the fat? Your gallbladder also reabsorbs minerals for your body. If you’ve lost your gallbladder, you need to supplement with bile salts and extra minerals at each meal. Some people are susceptible to develop diverticulitis because they do not chew nuts and seeds, and these lodge in little pockets in the intestines and cause inflammation. The use of butter or oils from the nuts or seeds in these foods can be utilized instead of, if necessary.
The other major problem with our digestive system is the lack of good bacteria in our gut. This is caused by excess refined carbohydrates, lack of dense fiber-rich fruits and vegetables which supply food for the bacteria, use of chlorinated water, antibiotic and steroid use. Think about it. We have to put chlorine in the water to kill the bugs that cause epidemics. Well, the chlorine also affects the good bacteria in us. Get a carbon filter at least, reverse osmosis better, problem solved. The other problem, as we mentioned, is the overuse of antibiotics and steroids that kill the good healthy flora. It is almost universal that we’ve all taken antibiotics and have drunk chlorinated water. Most of us need some help for awhile with pre- and post-biotic products. Pre-biotic products are the like the soil for the flora and pro-biotics replant the healthy bacteria. We provide our patients with the only pharmaceutical grade, guaranteed viable probiotic made in the world. A lack of proper digestion of our food, and/or hyperpermeability (leaky gut) are linked to most, if not all, chronic degenerative illnesses.
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