Its just a big long tube -or is it ?
Part 2 of a series of articles about gut health
Here in my second of a series of articles on how your health can be affected by how your body breaks down and processes the food you eat.
Here I will discuss, what happens to your food after it has left your stomach and the issues surrounding Leaky gut syndrome.
From your stomach, once your food has been broken down by the digestive enzymes released by the pancreas this concoction called Chyme starts to move into the very long tube called the small intestine. This narrow tube is about 7 meters long!!! Visualise it as a hose pipe coiled in your body cavity but, what goes on here is magical!
It s in this tube that most of the absorption of nutrients takes place and this is essential in order to enable them to be transported via the blood stream to different parts of your body to be re built into your human machine! Sometimes when digestion is compromised and food has not been digested fully, leaky gut syndrome can manifest. Imagine your garden hose with a few holes, the water will squirt out. This is what happens to undigested food particles. Instead of being absorbed into the cells, these particles pass into the bloodstream! Causing in some individuals an inflammatory, or immunoregulatory response- skin rashes, hives, joint pain and inflammation, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, lack of energy, sinus problems, to name but a few!
Image credit BallenBlanca
On top of this some undigested food particles do not pass through and instead travel down the tube into the large intestine where other issues can arise such as bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhoea and or constipation, which is caused by undesirable bacteria having a great time breaking down your undigested steak and making lots of gas!
So what can you do to help you help your digestion?
As a nutritionist I carry out a questionnaire assessment with my clients to establish if leaky gut syndrome is present.
I then work with them on a functional nutrition approach to remove foods/ drinks that may be causing an issue- Sometimes a food sensitivity test may be required. A food journal and noting down symptoms is a great way to find out which foods may be causing problems..
Next Replacing with a nutritionally rich diet and supporting digestion with digestive enzymes.
Re-inoculating with beneficial bacteria. Probiotics – which not only has a huge impact on digestive health but research shows there is a connection with the brain and beneficial bacteria - The gut brain axis. – about 80% of the neurotransmitter serotonin is manufactured by gut bacteria.- That's for another blog post!
Repairing – a leaky gut- by working with the first 3, and then adding in supportive nutrients and herbs such as slippery elm, rice bran oil, L Glutamine which is an amino acid and some antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids to help with inflammation.
Leaky gut syndrome can not only be caused by foods, but if you are stressed, your body may become more depleted of nutrients and the digestive process becomes less important as your body tries to cope with the stressful situations. Nutrients are used for more important issues than digesting food and so in turn the enzymes that digest your food may diminish. Plus when you are stressed you are more likely to reach for foods that are not supportive of optimal health.
Read the article here that explains in more detail the relationship with stress and nutrition.
In my next article I will write about what happens in your large intestine!
Thanks for reading