Time and time again I am hit with digestive problems. Often this results when I am demanding the very most from my body during a cycling event or training, when my body becomes highly reactive to anything that it finds hard to digest. Stress also affects my digestion badly and this in turn triggers food intolerances (for gluten and legumes). So to deal with this, I needed a simple solution and one that is the very best for digestive health – and that’s the Four R approach detailed here.
A quick request …
If you suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea or undigested particles of food in your food, you also may be suffering from malabsorption. This results from problems in breaking down food into absorbable molecules and caused by:
- Allergenic foods and toxins
- Stress or activation of sympathetic nervous system that disrupts chemical and mechanical digestion
- Lack of chemical production of either HCl, enzymes or bile in chemical digestion
- Lack of sufficient chewing
Incompletely digested foods may cross intestinal lining leading to an immune response. This in turn causes inflammation and disrupted absorptive function of villi of intestine. To avoid this as well as to heal naturally from this, firstly I recommend following my guidelines for healthy digestion. In addition to this, and for a thorough and complete recovery from malabsorption, use the 4 R approach:
Four R’s of digestive health
Remove – pathogens, allergens and toxins from food intake
- Allergens (eg gluten)
- Medication and toxins
- Bacteria, pathogens, parasites, fungi
- Oxidative stress
- Supplements – excessive use, or those that are not bioavailable
- Processed food products
- Foods prepared outside home: What is in it? How much do you know about the ingredients or cooking methods? How clean is it?
Replenish – digestive enzymes in the pancreas and other digestive factors, such as stomach wall secretions (Gastrin, HCl) and bile secretions
Reintroduce – friendly bacteria, using prebiotics and probiotics
- Probiotics: e.g. lactobacilli and bifidobacteria (health promoting bacteria present in fermented foods)
- Prebiotics: Inulin (fiber in Jerusalem artichokes that provide energy fuel for Lower Intestinal cells)
Repair – involving direct nutritional support to intestinal cells via nutrients critical for intestinal wall structure and function
- Clean, low irritant diet
- Adequate protein
- Anti-oxidants: Vitamins E, C, A, Glutathione
- Vitamin support: B vitamins, Vit K
- L-glutamine: amino acid that is useful in intestinal repair due its function in providing fuel for rapidly dividing cells (such as those of the mucosal lining of the intestines) and also being a precursor for the anti-oxidant and liver detoxifying Glutathione. In addition, it is the preferred respiratory fuel for GI mucosal cells and immune cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helpful with colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome possibly due to lowering levels of interleukins, inflammatory messaging molecules, in the intestines. Present in most foods, but highest in high protein foods especially eggs and whey protein.
- Licorice root: anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-toxic (ie supporting and protecting the liver), anti-biotic, anti-cancer and laxative. Also softens and soothes intestinal tissues and mucus membranes. Helps with stomach and intestinal problems such as indigestion, nausea, constipation. Licorice also helps protect liver from toxic damage, and helps protect intestinal walls through anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action
- Boswellia: herb that has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being used to treat GI problems
This post is adapted from a study paper I have posted which has complete details about digestion
In my post on allergies and sensitivities you will find an in depth exploration of allergy issues and how to recover from them
A quick request …
Marieb, E.N. (2009). The essentials of human anatomy and physiology. San Francisco, C.A.: Pearson Education
Murray, M. (2001). Total body tune-up. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Press
Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books
Murray, M. (1998). The complete book of juicing. Roseville, CA: Prima publishing
Haas, E. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, Ca. Celestial Healing Arts.
Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine.