GET TO KNOW YOUR GUT
The digestive system is the centre which gives fuels to our body. It is the 'cooking pot' - place of bio-transformation of our food. This vitally important system is where we absorb, transform nutrients and eliminate wastes.
Every part of this one long tube has its role to play in bio-transformation. The mouth, by chewing and release of saliva, begins the break down of food, especially of carbohydrates.
The oesophogus transports through its muscular contractions. The stomach acts as a 'churning vessel', moving and mechanincally mixing food around with digestive acids until the food turns into a 'slurry'. Its main action is mechanical mixing and this is why its best to eat until only 80 percent full - to allow room for the 'churning to occur'.
Next, the small intestine is the 'seat of digestive fire' - it is where most of active absorption of nutrients occur. Further digestion break down occurs by secretion of enzymes from the mucosal lining here and the pancreas. This section of the gut is lined by very fine finger-like protrusions (microvilli) which, when embedded into the mucosal lining, creates a type of fine mesh. This mesh is sensitive and critical for keeping toxins out of the blood and allowing micro-nutrients into the blood. This part of the gut is where things can go terribly wrong!
Next, the large intestine, is where most fluid is re-absorbed and waste is formed for release out of the body. The large intestine is packed with bacteria (optimally beneficial types), which form the stool, and which strongly influence the nervous system.
The liver's job is mighty - it protects us from toxins by neutralizing, packaging and then removing them via the urine or bowel. It also makes our hormones (by making and breaking cholesterol). It produces bile (for release via gall-bladder into the bowel to break down fats), fights infections, stores nutrients and vitamins plus energy in the form of glycogen!
Another interesting fact is that two thirds of our immune system is located in the gut! - both in the form of actual lymph tissue and in the form of gut bacteria that interacts with that tissue.
TIPS FOR GUT GREAT GUT HEALTH
Eat slow & calmly in quiet
Take apple cider vinegar
Eat lightly after 6pm
Avoid GMO corn, soy & canola
Drink or eat ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel and cardamom
Drink kefir or eat yoghurt
WHAT CAN GO WRONG WITH OUR GUT?
Chinese medicine diagnoses according to excess and deficient conditions. The same applies to the gut.
Our gut can become 'deficient', lacking in digestive enzymes, causing imcomplete digestion, poor nutrient status, tiredness, sluggishness, bloating and undigested stools.
The best remedy for this is to restore healthy gut by chewing well, in a calm state, ingesting bitter tonic herbs which are stimulating to the pancreas releasing more digestive enzymes, or if severe, take digestive enzymes until corrected. Avoid foods and drinks which are cold and sweet or hard to digest (especially cold dairy and fried, fatty foods).
The 'excess' mode of gut problems involve inflammation and irritation. Usually there is an immune response to 'toxic' foods entering the gut (such as sugar, refined wheat and genetically modified foods) which will elicit inflammatory symptoms. Pain, burning, discomfort are all common signs. Chronic stress will also cause this problem.
The best way to remedy excess gut problems is to remove the culprit foods - eat simple, bland foods such as steamed vegetables, soups, and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, hot spices, salts and red meats. Soothing herbs such as aloe vera, slippery elm, licorice and marshmallow root are all helpful.
THE GUT BRAIN CONNECTION
Still more interesting is our strong brain - gut connection. There is a portion of our nervous system, called the enteric nervous system (our 'second brain') which runs along the entire length of our gut, inside the mucosal lining of the gut (submucosa) and within the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. It has neurons, secretes neuro-transmittors and forms ganglia.
This gut enteric nervous system contains as many neurons as the spinal cord, and just like the brain, sends and receives nerve impulses, records experiences and responds to emotions!
The gut's nerve cells secrete the same neuro-transmittors as the brain, sending signals to the brain along the vagus nerve, which runs the entire length of the gut to the brain.
The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated when we are relaxed and calm. When we are in stress mode (sympathetic activation) this vagus nerve shuts down, making digestion very difficult. This is why stress and eating just don't go together.
Previously it was thought that the enteric system was a type of 'servant' to the brain, but new research shows that the brain does most of the 'listening' - the gut does 90 percent of the 'talking'! This means that our gut feels all our emotions, stresses, fears, and transfers this to the brain which responds accordingly!
WHAT IS LEAKY GUT?
Our gut, when over-exposed to medications, chemicals, GMO foods and inflammatory foods such as gluten and refined sugar, will become chronically inflamed. The tight 'mesh-like' mucosa on the inner lining of the gut 'loosens' and the microvilli begin to become overly permable, letting in foreign substances. This is known as leaky gut.
The problem with this is that these large foreign molecules which escape into the blood stream (via the gaps in the lining of gut) will send alarm signals to the immune system. Fighter white blood cells will then set off an inflammatory response (first in gut, then any other place where blood sends these particles to.)
Inflammation, as we know today, is the pre-cursor to all chronic illnesses - this is where it starts - in the gut!
Sometimes the foreign particles 'mimick' and resemble normal body tissue, in which case the immune system starts to attack our own body tissue as well as the foreign molecules. This is known as an 'auto-immune' response and will lead to auto-immune diseases.
The damage doesn't stop there.. Once you have a leaky gut, it leads to leaky blood brain barrier - leaky gut eventually leads to chronic neurological conditions, such as altzeimer's disease, MS and even autism.
HOW IS LEAKY GUT FIXED?
In a nutshell, the following measures are taken:
Cleanse the colon
Repair digestive tract
Re-seed the gut with good bacteria
This is achieved by a program called the Weed, Feed and Seed Program. Click here for details on this program.