Its strange to know how little we know about our body. The human body is a marvelous but complex machine. As we have learned in past blogs if one organ is not functioning properly, we may feel the symptoms elsewhere in the body. We need to be our own advocate for our health and don’t leave symptoms untreated until it is too late.
One thing I found about my body that has finally made sense is that we all have a body type that is causing issues, such as weight gain, insomnia, bloating etc but these underlying issues are left undetected. For many years I felt very tired in the afternoons, sometimes to the point where I could crawl under my desk and fall asleep. I also had bad cravings for chocolate or salty foods. For the past 5 years I had intermittent dizziness and thought it may be vertigo, but was confirmed by my physician that it was not, but she had no solution to my problem. I did not feel the typical symptoms of vertigo (room spinning and nausea). I then concluded that it is either low blood pressure or iron deficiency, which I have suffered with for many years.
It was while laying on a massage table I felt dizzy when the therapist advised that I may have adrenal problems. The light bulb went on in my head. I was looking for the obvious but it was not as simple as that. The body gives us clues through symptoms but it is like a jig-saw puzzled, you have to put the pieces together. I started to research adrenal gland and realize some of the symptoms included digestive issues, hair loss, weight gain, lack of sleep. Here is a list of 17 symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
I recently took the Dr Berg body type test, which determined that I was an adrenal type. Dr Berg is a real advocate when it comes to breaking down health information in a very simple terms.
Through perseverance and research how to strengthen my adrenal glands. I have not had any dizzy spells for 6 months and my blood pressure is now normal, sleep is much more restful.
Our body is like an orchestra, if one instrument is off-key then the orchestra will be without harmony. Pay attention to the signals from your body and don’t just shrug it off?
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi
Now that you have done a full body cleanse let look at ways you can maintain a healthy program to ensure that your digestive health flourishes.
Food combining is a hard one to get used to doing, because we eat when we feel hungry. How many of you think about what foods to eat and when? Its not easy to change habits of a lifetime but if you wish to be free of digestive issues, the time to start is now.
Different foods have varying times to be digested in the small intestines. (If this is the first time you are reading my blog, then acquaint yourself on how your digestive system works.) Men and women differ in the amount of time required for digestion but average times are as follows:
If you have never tried food combining, then give it a try, it works. When you simplify the foods that you eat in one sitting your digestive system will not be overtaxed.
The best guide I have found that is easy to follow is from Detoxinista. The group of foods in Step 1 are in their own individual boxes, don’t cross-combine, instead select from step 2 then wait before selecting from step 3.
The first time I practiced these steps, I ate my protein first, waited a few hours then ate carbohydrates. I was surprised that I did not spend my time afterwards burping and being bloated like a balloon ready for take off.
By waiting for a period of time before switching food categories, I also found I did not need to eat as much unhealthy snacks. When I became hungry it was my next mini meal that I consumed instead of snacks. If you eat all your food in one sitting then guess what – you snack on things that do not help your digestive system.
Here are some other tips to incorporate into your daily routine to maintain a healthy digestive system:
Do not eat fruits with meals, eat fruits on an empty stomach
Do not eat protein and carbohydrates or starches together
Chew your food thoroughly (30 – 40 times to start secreting digestive enzymes)
Eat bitter greens such as dandelion leaves, artichoke as a salad before a meal (for bile production)
Add some acid to your meal such as fermented foods – 1/4 to 1/2 cup of unpasteurized sauerkraut
Use fermented milk such as unsweetened keifir
Take flax oil and omega 3 fats with meals to help break down foods, and these oils are also good for the gallbladder.
If there is one thing to remember is that protein requires HCL (hydrochloric acid) to be digested and carbohydrates reduces the production of HCL. Instead eat carbohydrates with vegetables.
Do you want to regain control over your digestive system but just don’t have time to do a cleanse right now? You are not alone. In previous blogs you learned why it is necessary to have a healthy gut. Why don’t you take the 12-day full body cleanse challenge this weekend, I promise you will not regret it. I recently did the 12 Day Detox Cleanse – Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox Kit. I lost inches off my waistline, my stomach is the flatter than ever and bloating has banished. My colon got a good workout! No amount of exercise can achieve this in such a short space of time. Trust me I have tried all sorts of exercises, but failed to maintain a flat stomach.
Let me explain with an example, why you need to kick-start with a full body cleanse. If you made lasagna in your pyrex dish and was too lazy after eating it, left the dish for a few days with burnt cheese and pasta sauce, would you take the unclean dish and start using it again without washing it? Most likely not, so why leave waste in your colon, probably for days. Your colon need to get rid of waste on a daily basis, if not twice but at least once a day. We all like to pretty up the outer body – hair, makeup, cologne, etc. yet we don’t like to think about the inner body and our unhealthy bathroom routine or non-routine.
So lets talk dirty! Sometimes we are just too busy or lazy to sit on the toilet long enough to evacuate the contents of the colon. If your colon is not as active as you would like it to be and you are new to this regime, then take the 12-day full body cleanse challenge. Also did you know that there are techniques you can use to train your colon; much like you train your muscles at the gym.
In a previous blog we discussed the body’s “second brain” or the enteric system and how food is moved through the digestive system. The brain knows that once you start eating, your colon will kick into gear and becomes active. Dr Francisco Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist says that “the colon becomes active after a meal because of the gastrocolic reflex, which senses food in the stomach and sends the lower gastrointestinal tract the message that it is time to function”.
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So let’s learn some boot camp techniques for your colon. Even while on the 12-day cleanse challenge, or any of the other full body cleansesmentioned in previous blogs. You can practice these exercises to achieve full evacuation of the colon. It will become part of your daily routine, even if you do not always have the urge to go, these exercises will kick start the colon. If you regularly take laxatives, please cease as this masks the underlying problem and prevent the colon muscles from working. These exercises will help retrain your colon.
You can do any of the following exercises in the morning and or after any meal, then go and sit on the throne! Avoid any distractions – leave your cell phone behind. Just concentrate and breathe deeply. Take the time and your body will respond. You can listen to some classical music to relax your mind, if you are so inclined. Remember I am not telling you anything that I have not tried, I have done the full body cleanse and continuously do the following exercises.
For exercise 1 you will need some castor oil or any other body oil. I use cold-pressed castor oil (contains active ingredient ricinoleic acid). A castor oil pack, when placed on the skin with some heat, is thought to enhance circulation when placed on the stomach. It can improve digestion and may relieve constipation symptoms.
If you have any gas or bloating, these exercises will help ease the discomfort. If you have sensitive skin, test the castor oil on a small patch of skin first. Do not forget to drink plenty of spring water during the day, eat sufficient fibre and take a probiotic every day. Water is important for your digestion. It keeps the food you eat moving along through your intestines.
Before getting out of bed in the morning, lie on your back with knees bent. Take some castor oil and rub on your fingers. Place your fingers on your navel area and in a circular clockwise motion massage with a little pressure, over your small intestine area 10 – 15 times.
Then move your fingers to the lower right side, just above your pubic bone. Apply a little pressure and slowly run fingers of both hands up and around the colon, up and around and down to the left side. Your fingers should pass over the entire shape of your colon. Do this 10 – 15 times. Then drink a glass of room temperature water with a slice of lemon then sit on the toilet.
A very simple exercise that do not require any equipment but give your body a workout and your internal organs a cleansing and toning is jumping jacks. You can also use a jump rope and skip. If you have a mini trampoline you can also do some rebounding exercises. Do these exercise for 5 – 15 minutes. Then drink a glass of room temperature water with a slice of lemon then sit on the toilet.
If you are like me and sit on your behind most of the day at the office, your stomach muscles will be loose. I am also not a great fan of gyms, I like to walk instead. I recently bought myself a resistance band. I use the band to do stomach exercises such as sit-ups and crunches to strengthen the core stomach muscles. Please be careful with the band as it can be a flying missile if not held properly.
You can do these exercises while during the cleanse and continue doing them thereafter on a daily basis. You will be amazed how your colon will respond and get into a routine.
If someone asked you how many brains do you have, what would be your answer? Stupid question huh, of course I have one brain. Did you know that there are other nervous systems in our body known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) that is located in our belly. It has been as called the second brain. Have you ever heard the expression “I have a gut feeling.” Well that feeling may really come from that second brain. Interesting!
“The enteric nervous system in humans consists of some 500 million neurons, one two-hundredth of the number of neurons in the brain, five times as many as the one hundred million neurons in the human spinal cord, and about 2/3 as many as in the whole nervous system of a cat. The enteric nervous system is embedded in the lining of the gastrointestinal system, beginning in the esophagus and extending down to the anus.” (Wikipedia)
That is phenomenal. It takes an enormous amount of coordination and effort for the body to transform food into fuel. If this was left to your brain alone, then we would not be functioning for most of the day. This sounds like me after a heavy meal – non-functioning. The brain delegates the digestive task to the ENS, which is built into our digestive system.
Digestion requires a variety of very precise chemical mixtures produced at the right times and delivered to the right locations. The wall of the intestine is coated with specialized cells that act as chemical detectors that identify the food you eat. The data sent by these detectors tells the ENS what digestive enzymes are required to break the food down into particles that the body can absorb. Mind boggling but truly a wonder of creation.
Did you know that 70 – 80 percent of the lymphocyte cells (immune system defense) in your body is in your belly? The ENS also plays a role in the regulation of hormones that tell the brain when you should eat and how much you should eat. Even telling the brain when you are full or feel nauseous.
Did you also know that during stress the brain triggers the ENS to change the gut’s normal contractions. These are the muscle contractions needed to make the system function like a conveyor belt to move the waste through your intestines. Hmmm, beginning to make sense now why stress causes so many digestive issues. If you have not yet performed a liver, gallbladder and colon cleanse take a look at Body Cleansing 101.
Next time you eat a meal, pause and think about all the monitoring, data processing, coordination and communication that is about to take place in your digestive system.
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Did you Know?
Have you gone to the drug store and picked up a bottle of vitamin and it has written on the label ‘enteric coated‘. What does it mean? It is a tablet that is coated with a material to allow it to dissolve in the small intestine only and prevent dissolution in the acidic environment of the stomach. It also protects the stomach from irritating drugs (e.g. aspirin).
You may say, my stomach has acid! Yes, you and I are a walking chemical factory. We all have it but for some people their stomach acids (which comprises of hydrochloric acid (HCL), potassium acid and sodium chloride) do not have the proper levels of acidity or have the proper levels of HCL.
A typical human will secrete between 1.2 – 1.5 litres of stomach acid per day. The stomach acid should have a pH level between 1 – 2. We need stomach acid to:
kill harmful bacteria
absorb vitamin B12 (for brain, nervous system and blood formation)
reduce food into small particles for the intestine to absorb nutrients
initiate the rhythmic contractions of the intestine that crush and move food through the GI tract
Because of high stress, processed foods, antibiotic or prescription use, many people tend to have a deficient supply of stomach acid; this can result in many health implications.
Here is a simple test you can perform at home to test your stomach acid. I purchased organic baking soda that does not contain aluminium to do this test. If you have stomach ulcers do not take this test. You will need to find the source of the problem and heal the ulcer.
If your stomach acid is at the proper level, you should belch between 2 – 3 minutes. If it takes you longer than 5 minutes and you have not belched or burped, then your stomach acid is insufficient. If you have early and repeated belching this may be due to excessive stomach acid.
You can also do a stomach acid test to measure the amount of acid in the stomach. It also measures the level of acidity in the stomach.
Your stomach acid must be acidic and levels sufficient enough to breakdown proteins for absorption and perform many other functions in the body. How can you determine your needed HCL amount and maintain the proper levels of stomach acid? Here is a very informative article “Determine Your HCL Amount” which has a strategy how to increase your level of stomach acid using betaine HCL with pepsin.
A normal response to taking betaine HCL after a meal is a feeling of warmth in the stomach. If you feel nothing then you may have improper levels of stomach acid.
Note: If you are taking any sort of NSAID medication such as ibuprofen, tylenol or aspirin then do not take betaine HCL.
Here are some other ways from to improve your stomach acid pH levels to aid digestion.
If you would like to know more about the mechanics of this marvelous body organ watch this one minute video from www.britannica.com (scroll to the bottom of page).
When I did the baking soda test, it took me 2 minutes to burp. I concluded that my stomach acid was average. Can my stomach acid levels or acidity be improved? Can I improve my bile productions? Are there other things I should also know about aiding digestion? Yes. My motto is: Knowledge knows no boundaries.
My next blog will provide you with some useful information how to maintain your digestive health.
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The gallbladder – a small, pear-shaped organ that sits underneath the liver. The prevalence of gallstone disease often involves the removal of the gallbladder. In the past it was said it was an organ that was not essential. How wrong, they were!
This pear-shaped organ has a very important function in the digestive system. The liver makes a dark green bile (a detergent-like substance that comprises of water, bile salts, inorganic salts, bilirubin and fats), which is stored in the gallbladder. The liver produces between 500 – 1000 ml of bile per day. According to Erin Gilbert, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “It concentrates the bile into the form that’s best used for digestion,” Dr. Gilbert says. “When you eat, the bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder and goes into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, through the common bile duct.”
When food with fat content is eaten and passes through the intestine, a hormone is released to stimulate the gallbladder and the bile (detergent like fluid) from the gallbladder to emulsify the fat and help digest the fat. Frequent intake of fatty foods puts pressure on this organ, which results in excessive concentration of bile juices that manifests itself as gallstones.
Bile helps to lubricate the colon to do its job. Bile also helps to neutralize hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach, which has a very low pH level between 1 to 2. This strong acidic concentration helps to break down foods, release enzymes, digest proteins present in the food, kill germs and bacteria that you may ingest.
In the United Starts there are over 300,000 gall bladders removed annually. By doing a full body cleanse of the organs (liver, gallbladder and colon), it will not only increase bile flow but also greatly improve digestion and help prevent gallstones buildup.
Read the blog Body Cleansing 101 which focus on the methods to use for a full body cleanse of the liver, gallbladder and colon. You will find also find out a little more about the stomach acid and how to improve it.
A review of some vital organs will remind you that our organs work in tandem to complete a process that starts at the mouth and ends, well you know where!
In my last blog I provided information on the first of the “three amigos”, the colon and why we need to keep the engine clean. The second “amigo”, the liver plays a major role in the digestive system.
Our liver is a work horse (besides the heart) of the body. It works 24 hours a day and weighs just over one kilogram. Situated under the diaphragm in the upper right part of the abdomen, the liver is the largest internal organ in the body. Everything that enters our mouth, every breath through our nostrils and lotions rubbed our skin are filtered through the liver.
According to Organs of the body.com there are 500 vital functions of the liver which includes:
cleansing the blood
manufacturing essential body proteins
balancing the hormones
regulating cholesterol in the body
excreting bile for digestion
So as you can see the liver has a big job to do, filtering, converting and processing and can easily become overworked and burdened with toxins.
The bile secreted by the liver is of utmost interest to those of us, especially those with gut issues. Bile helps to eliminate toxic substances from the body and aid digestion. Bile is a green-yellow fluid, which contains detergent-like substances essential for digestion. It is stored in the gall bladder, which contracts after eating and discharges bile into the small intestine. So you see why I call these organs the “three amigos” (liver, gallbladder and colon). They each have a role to play in the digestive system.
As for the liver, it has the unique ability of restoring itself. We have this marvelous organ but pay little attention to it. If you feel sluggish in the afternoons, suffer with headaches, bruise easily and have less than 2 bowel movements a day, then you may have a sluggish liver. You may consider doing a full body cleanse which includes the liver and gallbladder. A healthy liver supports digestion.
See the blog about the gallbladder, which is sometimes viewed as an unnecessary organ in the body but should be considered as a vital component of the digestive system.