Total Approach to Digestive Health
The above discussion shows that many different steps are involved in digestion and nutrient assimilation. A comprehensive approach is therefore needed to normalise the function of the entire digestive tract, so that every step proceeds smoothly.
The following steps may be helpful if you have chronic digestion problems:
- Remove all harmful elements, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, allergens and toxins. A simple stool analysis will identify harmful microorganisms in your digestive tract. Your doctor can then prescribe medications to destroy them.
Meanwhile, avoid foods that contain chemical additives and. pollutants. Such foods are not only toxic but they also destroy friendly bacteria that can help you fight harmful microorganisms naturally.
There is also a simple blood test - for immunoglobin E (IgE) and immunoglobin G (IgG) - that will identify specific foods that are causing should allergic reactions. Once these foods have been identified, you avoid them completely. When your condition improves, you can bgradually re-introduce these foods to see if you can tolerate them.
- Enzymes and digestive factors: Depending on your condition, you may benefit from taking supplements of hydrochloric acid and various digestive enzymes.
- Probiotics: Because of the modern diets and lifestyles, almost everyone today will benefit from taking more fermented foods that contain live, friendly bacteria, as well as supplements of probiotics. Such supplements are especially needed by those who have ever taken antibiotics, or eaten the meat of animals that have been fed antibiotics - and this includes just about everybody.
Products like yoghurt drinks are not exactly helpful because they do not contain all that much friendly bacteria. Moreover, such drinks usually contain sugar and chemical additives. Look for a good brand of probiotic supplements that contain several different types of friendly bacteria, with a bacteria count of at least 20 billion. To nourish your probiotics, take also prebiotics like inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides.
- Repair leaky gut: The integrity of your mucus membrane can be
strengthened by antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E; minerals like zinc and manganese; and amino acids like cysteine, N-acetylcysteine, glutamine and tripeptide glutathione. Supplements of L-glutamine and butyric acid will nourish the cells that make up your mucus membrane.
In addition, a supplement of gamma-oryzanol will help normalise intestinal secretions. Gamma-oryzanol also acts as an antioxidant to reduce permeability of the mucus membrane and as a metal chelator to remove toxic heavy metals from the body. This compound is found naturally in unpolished brown rice and rice bran oil.
- Reduce intestinal inflammation: Helpful supplements for this include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the type of omega-3 fatty acid found in cold water fish. Also helpful is gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty that is anti-inflammatory (unlike other forms of omega-6 that are pro-inflammatory), found in products like evening primrose oil and borage oil.
The Vital Role of the Digestive Tract
The vital role of the digestive tract is not just digestion but also to act as a barrier against undesirable allergens and microbes. To obtain optimal nutrition, you not only must eat nutrient-rich foods but must also ensure your entire digestive tract is functioning well.
Health Depends on Digestion
Clearly, you are not just what you eat. Beyond eating, your largely on how well you digest your food and assimilate the nutrients they contain. The key to health is your entire gastrointestinal system, from your mouth to your anus. Every part of it must do its job well. You are what you digest and assimilate.
This content is adapted, with permission, from Book 1 of 2 : The Wonders of Nutrition by Dr Ang Poon Liat. MBBS, M.MED (PAED), MRCP (UK PAED), FAMS, MD.