Part II - Digestive Tract Problems (Part 1 - Nutrition)
The second way to have poor nutritional intake according to Drs. Stoff and Atkins is through poor digestive function. Elizabeth Lipski, C.C.N., author of Digestive Wellness says that the best diet in the world won’t help if you aren’t digesting your food properly. According to Dr. Anthony Cichoke, MD, Ph.D., the purpose of the gastrointestinal system is simple:
- To extract nutrients from foods.
- To digest nutrients into units small enough to be absorbed (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.)
- To eliminate waste products.
A Few Typical Digestion Problems
“Poor digestion can do more than give you a stomach ache or gas because digestion is the mechanism that makes your body work…a clog in the works may be only the tip of the iceberg. Chronic fatigue, premature aging, arthritis, poor skin and hair quality, toxicity, allergies, cancer, and many other diseases can all result from faulty digestion because poor digestion interferes with nutrient breakdown, absorption and metabolism; allows toxins to remain in the body and accumulate; and over-stresses the body.” Dr. Anthony Cichoke
“Symptoms of digestive disorders may include abdominal pain, allergic symptoms, belching, a bloated feeling, a burning sensation after eating, chronic bowel irritation, chronic fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, gas, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, nausea, rumbling noises, skin disorders, sugar cravings, and vomiting. Heartburn often accompanies indigestion.” Dr. James Balch, MD
Digestive problems are wide spread. According to Elizabeth Lipski, C.C.N., except for the common cold, digestive problems are the most common reason people seek medical advice.
Stomach – Hydrochloric Acid
The most common digestive problems with the stomach are gastric ulcers and low hydrochloric acid (particularly for persons over 60) according to Ms. Lipski. She also states that hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach breaks up protein, the beginning of protein digestion, and kills microbes (bacteria), effectively sterilizing food. The ability to manufacture hydrochloric acid (Hcl) diminishes with age. The stomach passes along partially digested, sterilized food to the small intestine. At least that’s what’s supposed to be passed along if all is working correctly.
Small Intestine – Pancreatic Enzymes
Once the stomach has done its job, the partially digested food moves into the small intestine where enzymes secreted by the pancreas continue the digestive process according to Janice Wittenberg, RN and author of The Rebellious Body. These enzymes are essential. The three main categories are lipase (breaks down fats), amylase (breaks down carbohydrates) and protease (breaks down proteins). The symptoms of low enzyme production are similar to those of low hydrochloric acid production.
She continues by saying, “The body obtains enzymes in two ways: by manufacturing them and by eating foods that contain them (enzymes are lacking in processed foods). The number of enzymes your body produces is finite and you cannot force the production of more when you run out…"
Enzymes Stolen From Immune System
Approximately half of the body’s total enzyme production is used for digestion. Oddly enough, the body places a greater priority on digestion than on overall health. If your diet is lacking in food-source enzymes, your body appropriates them from other sites in order to attend to the digestive process. As a result, your immune system dispenses with some enzymes, preventing those enzymes from doing the work of protection. The body can be weakened to the point that it can no longer protect against outside invaders.
Enzyme supplements help balance body chemistry and help alleviate the stress placed on your digestive organs as well as your immune system.” These digestive enzymes help release nutrients from food and allow them to be absorbed into the blood.
Colon – Large Intestine
After nutrients have been absorbed, water, bacteria and fiber (chyme) pass into the large intestine or colon. More water is absorbed and stool begins to form. About 2/3 is composed of water, undigested fiber and food products. The other 1/3 is living and dead bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, hormones, toxins, etc. Note: A well-formed stool should look like a brown banana. Stools that look like little balls have been sitting in the colon too long increasing the possibility of toxic re-absorption. People on good diets generally have one to two bowel movements each day. [Reference: Elizabeth Lipski, MS, CCN]
“Your body hosts over 100 trillion bacteria (majority in colon), most of which are necessary to sustain health… the presence of beneficial bacteria in the intestines aids digestion, synthesizes vitamins, and inhibits the growth of disease-promoting pathogenic bacteria.” Janice Wittenberg, R.N. These friendly bacteria are called intestinal flora. The term “probiotics” is commonly used to refer to the use of them in supplemental form; capsules or powder.
“The two most important groups of flora are the lactobacillus acidophillus found mainly in the small intestine, and bifidobacterium, found primarily in the colon.” Elizabeth Lipski, MS. CCN
There are benefits to each type:
Benefits to Lactobacillus Acidophillus
- Prevent overgrowth of disease-causing microbes; Candida species, E. coli, H. pylori and Salmonella.
- Prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
- Aid digestion of lactose and dairy products.
- Improve nutrient absorption.
- Maintain integrity of intestinal tract and protect against macromolecules entering bloodstream and causing antigenic response.
- Lessen intestinal stress from food poisoning.
- Acidify intestinal tract; low pH provides a hostile environment for pathogens (bacteria) and yeast.
- Helps prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections.
What kills good “intestinal flora”?
What kinds of things are causing bacterial imbalance? Most researchers indicate that the list includes chemicals, oral contraceptives, steroids, sugar, and the most common cause – antibiotics. Not being specific, antibiotics kill not only their intended “victim” but also the “good” bacteria in the gut leaving the territory wide open to the growth of the “not so good” bacteria, yeast, viruses and parasites that were resistant to whatever was used.
Note: Antibiotics, when appropriately used, are important medical tools that save lives.
Dr. D’Adamo says that, “continued and heavy use of antibiotics destroys not only the infection, but all of the good bacteria (healthy gut flora) in the digestive tract. Many people experience diarrhea, and quite often women become subject to recurring and persistent yeast infections.” Candida albicans is the usual yeast offender. There are other species.
Toxins Knock Out Immune System Pathways
These fungal and bacterial overgrowths initiated through use of antibiotics or other things mentioned give off endotoxins (toxins produced within the body) that suppress immune system function by knocking out communication pathways between cells of the immune system. Without these pathways in operation, immune cells don’t attack. [Reference: Dr. Jesse Stoff]
“We can help our own immune systems by increasing the number of friendly bifidobacteria and lactobacilli acidophillus in our lower gastrointestinal tracts. This can be done with supplements.” Dr. Jesse Stoff, The Prostate Miracle
For more information and articles on the symptoms of digestive problems visit Tummy Trouble.