We've all heard the phrase "you are what you eat." While this is true, it's more accurate to say, "You are what you digest." In order to absorb the nutrients we need for optimal health, we must be able to digest the food we take in. The health of our gut is essential.
In fact, many old healing traditions believe that all dis-ease originates in the gut.
A majority of the U.S. population tolerates some digestive disturbance; it is one of the most common areas for which clients seek assistance. Most people (as they have not figured out how to remedy them) just live with their symptoms; which are sometimes mildly annoying and other times highly disruptive and unhealthy. Because they have been living with these symptoms for so long, they often do not realize that they can be eliminated.
The food we eat has the most significant impact of any intervention on the digestive tract. While this seems obvious, it is often difficult to pinpoint which foods are causing the problem and for what reasons. So, most people have trouble making the association. Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea are all signs of digestive imbalance. While supplements are helpful to balance and heal the digestive system, the food we eat has the most direct contact and impact on this system – the entire function of this system is to process the food we eat. Intolerance to certain foods can create a serious imbalance in the entire digestive system.
For centuries, if not millions of years, our bodies and digestive system evolved on a diet that stayed fairly constant until the last 60-80 years. The introduction of modern farming, processing of foods, food storage techniques and more, have produced foods that are far more devoid of the nutrients, probiotics, enzymes, and fiber than our bodies and digestive tracts require for optimum wellness.
A few of the major contributors to poor digestion and dis-ease are:
- Antibiotics and yeast (candida) overgrowth
- Lack of fermented foods in the diet
- Food sensitivities
Antibiotics and yeast (candida) overgrowth
Antibiotics have brought major improvements to modern healthcare. Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria, but they also kill all of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Their overuse and the inattention to the need to rebalance the digestive bacteria has created many chronic disturbances.
As you kill the good bacteria, this allows yeast to overgrow (anyone who has taken antibiotics and got a yeast infection knows this). See more about yeast in the autism section. Challenges with yeast can occur with anyone, and these beneficial bacteria are essential to good digestion and wellness for all. It can be difficult to rebalance this good bacteria without conscious attention to diet, as fermented foods are not prevalent in our culture's food choices.
Lack of fermented foods in the diet
In the "old days" we made fermented foods as a way to preserve them. This provided our bodies with a constant supply of good bacteria that is essential to wellness. In Korea, they eat up to _ pound of kim chi (a fermented food) per day. Today, most Americans eat hardly any fermented foods and when we do eat yogurt it is pasteurized first to kill the bacteria (good and bad) and freeze-dried culture is added in along with lots of sugar. See more on fermented foods in the food insights section for ways to rebalance the intestinal tract and improve digestion.
Food sensitivities are another area that has a significant impact on diarrhea, constipation, gas, and digestive function. Food sensitivities (the most common: wheat, dairy, soy, corn, eggs) lead to inflammation in the gut that can add to the vicious cycle of imbalance that contributes to yeast overgrowth, poor nutrient absorption, and more. More on food sensitivities and related diets can be found in the autistic spectrum section (as they typically suffer from this). Addressing food sensitivities can be tricky. There is great benefit to receiving the assistance of a nutrition consultant to help pinpoint food intolerances and aid in the implementation of an appropriate diet.
Improve your digestion and I guarantee you will feel a whole lot better.