|Healing a Compromised Digestive Tract|
In the last blog post I discussed the importance of a healthy digestive tract and how it can affect nearly all the other systems in our bodies, from our immunity to our mental health. We also covered how the first step in healing our digestive tracts is to improve our diets. Whole, healthy, unprocessed foods are easily recognized by our systems and digested easily as long as there are no intolerances to that specific food. Processed, artificial foods, or foods high in unhealthy fats and sugars, on the other hand, are taxing on our systems and can slowly damage them, with the consequences sometimes not showing up for months or years. So, switching to these healthy, life-sustaining foods is the first step and then an elimination diet done with the help of a nutritionist may help to identify any food intolerances that may be present. The patient can then remove these substances for a short time to see how they feel not eating them or to give the digestive system a chance to heal and then try to reintroduce them. Some common food intolerances include wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy. Many times when an individual is intolerant to gluten they may consequently also develop a lactose intolerance. However, once the system is healed and gluten is removed dairy may sometimes be reintroduced with out any trouble. Once dietary measures have been addressed and put into place we can move on to some steps in actually healing the system.
The amino acid L-glutamine is a great supplement for healing a stressed digestive tract. The intestinal tract utilizes about 40% of all the glutamine in the body and the vast majority of this is consumed by the epithelial cells, which convert it to energy for use by the mucosa, which is the lining of the small intestine. This is a very important supplement to be used by people recovering from food intolerances or just trying to heal their gut from a less than ideal diet.
Probiotics are another important supplement for our digestive tracts. Healthy bacterial flora helps to keep a proper balance between the healthy bacteria in our system and unhealthy parasites, yeast or bacteria. When our diet is less than ideal or we use antibiotics, or we consume food we can’t tolerate or even during times of high stress, this delicate bacterial balance gets thrown off, with unhealthy bacteria, parasites, or yeasts outgrowing the healthy bacteria. This overgrowth can lead to the individual having a harder time digesting foods, bloating, and other indigestion symptoms.
Digestive enzymes can be very beneficial in providing support during times of gut repair. These help individuals to digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Often times digestive enzymes are found in lower amounts in the intestinal mucosa of individuals with mucosal damage from unhealthy diets or food intolerances. Using these in the interim period while healing the digestive system may provide some relief.
Using a good quality multi vitamin and omega-3 supplement can also be very helpful in healing a compromised digestive system. Many times if our intestinal lining is injured we are not absorbing the vitamins and minerals from our foods very efficiently, even if our diets are very healthy. Using a multi vitamin will be sure to address any deficiencies that may be present and help give our systems all the nutrients it may require to help heal. Omega -3 fatty acids are also essential to the resolution of inflammatory process as well as tissue repair. They have been used with much success in inflammatory bowel disease.
Along with dietary measures and supplement support, managing stress and getting sufficient sleep are also very important factors in our digestive health. Stress can cause our healthy flora to be thrown off and not getting adequate sleep doesn’t give our systems the proper time and rest they require to heal. However, if we take some time to address our diets, utilize some supplemental support to heal our systems and ensure we are getting adequate sleep and managing our stress effectively we can be on our way to a healthy digestive system in no time. The benefits of this digestive health will be far reaching, not only affecting how our tummies feel but also how we sleep, our mood, our energy levels, our immunity and our overall health!