Listen To Your Gut: addressing digestive health

Dr. Bowen discusses The Importance of Good Digestion

In order to absorb all of the nutrients from the food we consume, our digestion must be optimal. If absorption or any step along the way in normal digestion is compromised, we can end up with nutrient deficiencies and may lack the ability to make the most of what we are eating. This idea also applies to the vitamins and supplements that we take. Are we able to effectively absorb the nutrients that we are taking if our digestive tract is compromised? Digestive imbalance is also at the root of many other medical conditions. Restoring digestive health is often a first simple approach to managing many health concerns.

Simple insults to our digestive tract are often the underlying cause of digestive imbalance. Some of the more common risk factors are: antibiotics, food allergies/sensitivities, low or high hydrochloric acid, drinking, smoking, age and stress. When the negative factors add up, digestive imbalance is the result.

Digestive Symptoms/Complaints: it is imperative that you pay very close attention to what your body is telling you. See how you feel after eating. Inspect your bowel movements for change in color, consistency, undigested food, mucous or blood. You will learn a lot about how you are digesting by identifying the signals that your body is giving you.

Common Digestive Ailments: Intestinal Malabsorption, Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, (Ulcerative Colitis or Chron’s Disease), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac Disease, Stomach or Duodenal Ulcers, H. Pylori Infection, Hernias, Constipation, Diarrhea, Indigestion/Reflux and Hemorrhoids.

Treatments

Diet: Identify and eliminate food allergens, Drink less coffee, Eat less sugar, saturated fat, preservatives, additives and other harmful substances. Eat more organic fresh fruit and vegetables. Free range/Organic animal products. Try a gluten elimination if you currently have digestive symptoms. Have your physician make a personalized diet plan to follow that will address your individual needs.

Lifestyle: Reduce stress. Quit smoking. Drink little or no alcohol.

Supplements

  • N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine: like glucosamine sulfate for the joints, this type of glucosamine provides specific building blocks needed to repair the connective tissue of the intestines.
  • L-Glutamine: this amino acid, found in cabbage, is necessary for repair and healing of the digestive tract. It also is very useful in helping ulcers and reflux to resolve. Source of food for colon cells.
  • Fiber: helps to bind toxins in the intestines and remove them. Also helps to turn over new cells in the lining of the intestines.
  • Probiotics: beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus comprise normal bacterial populations in our digestive tract. “Good Bacteria” are necessary for breakdown and absorption of essential nutrients. These helpful bacterial populations are wiped out with antibiotics, stress, alcohol and other physical stressors.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: enhances circulation to the digestive tract, is a potent antioxidant, and has been shown to be protective against intestinal damage.
  • Antioxidants: protects intestines from damage. Promotes repair of tissues (especially bioflavonoids, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine).
  • Digestive Enzymes: assists in breaking down food into absorbable molecules and also will take some of the digestive burden off of the system during the period of intestinal repair.
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