Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Heal Your Gut

So the first thing I decide to write about on a blog of random thoughts is bad intestinal tract health. That's odd. But it's a huge problem in America. Health insurance here is complicated to keep up with for most of us, so it's become almost mandatory for us to diagnose and heal ourselves. That's unfortunate. Add to that the constant dietary trends and misconceptions about food.  Consider the fact that people below the poverty line who rely on food banks are taking home things like canned chicken, outdated cupcakes full of food dye and sugar, and that white, gooey excuse for a loaf of bread. I know this first hand because I have been one of those people. It's a wonder we're not dropping like flies.. I guess the human body is pretty good at managing depletion for awhile. But at some point, it's going to give up and begin to break down.

When we finally started using refrigerators, we tossed the traditional method of fermenting vegetables right out the window. Some good health benefits went away with it. The primary reason irritated bowel syndrome is so common these days is because we've forgotten how to eat. The digestive system is very complicated and is often taken for granted. While everyone knows they need good bacterial activity in there, not many are taking the time to pay attention until they're doubling over in pain and spending an hour in the bathroom. Most people cannot handle digestion of raw vegetables anymore. Antibiotics in poultry is killing off our good intestinal bacteria. We need to heal the bugs in there in order to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals from food, and to avoid food getting stuck in the colon and eventually rotting. (which happens with Crohn's disease and causes necrosis.)

This leads me to the main culprit of depletion and sickness: a lack of the vitamins and minerals needed to fight disease and infection. Most of these magical nutrients are in raw fruits and vegetables. And our bodies can't digest them anymore! Why? Because the intestines are sick and in need of repair. Once the intestines are healed, the ability to digest raw earth veggies starts to come back and you begin healing from the inside.. not to mention slowing down the aging process and looking better, too. And fixing the digestive system doesn't have to involve major surgery- unless it's gotten to the point where necrosis is present. And that is a serious situation which requires cutting into and removing the dying parts of the small intestine.

There's also something else happening in there that most people don't know about. There is another, secondary nervous system located in the gut. It's called the Enteric nervous system, and shoots more neurons and neurotransmitters than a nerd on crack. It's been dubbed the secondary brain. The enteric nervous system communicates with the primary nervous system and this may have a lot to do with why stress and anxiety is so heavily involved with proper digestion. So now that we have a hint about how complicated the gastrointestinal areas of our bodies are, what do we do to start the healing process? For the sake of time, I'll simply list some good places to start and those who are interested can research the details later.

1. Definitely get some fermented vegetables into your diet. This will aid in healing the bacterial maze inside those intestines as well as help digest other foods. 

2. Eat real yogurt, and not the stuff with candied fruit in the bottom hyped up with high fructose corn syrup. That's like physically abusing your yogurt and then forcing it to find a way to help once it gets in there.

3. If you don't have time to ferment vegetables, (which isn't really that hard) try things like kim chi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, and kombucha. Also, eat pickled things.

Some of these things (like kombucha or kefir) might take a little getting used to if your palette is too familiar with the traditional American diet of steak, potatoes and pie. In that case, keep searching until you find some probiotic food you can handle. Otherwise, it's easy to give up and wait until it's too late to get better without surgical or medicinal intervention.

4. Please, by any means possible, learn to relax. I cannot point out how much hell stress and anxiety puts your body through. We can handle this while we're young, but eventually it's going to kick us into submission. 

5. It's much easier on your digestive system to eat small throughout the day than to gorge on a huge meal two or three times per day. And remember that chewing produces enzymes we need for digestion.. so remember more chewing creates more enzymes and easier digestion.

6. Your best sources of fiber will be coming from fruits, vegetables and beans. While whole grains do contain fiber, it's still better to get most of your nutrients from the prior. Ask any bodybuilder. Bread's okay, but too many carbs are still going to raise your sugar levels. Then you're dealing with different problems. You don't have to stop eating bread. Whole grains are good. But too much of them aren't. Overdose on vegetables, not on bread and pasta. 

So here's a start. Get the gut healthy, then it will start working for you. Some people have reversed allergies to certain foods by healing their intestines. After the intestines are back on track, the ability to digest raw fruits and vegetables comes back. A digestive system working at sub par levels can lead to things like diverticulitis, IBS, and even Crohn's disease.


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