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Bobby Brown

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Member since 8 / 2012

Healthy Gut - Healthy You

Modern medicine is learning what many traditional cultures knew all along—a  healthy gut is critical for a healthy body.

 There are two principal reasons for this—nutrients and immune health. Without the ability to process and assimilate key nutrients into the body, everything from brain function to muscle integrity suffers. A healthy gut digests everything we take in and grants access to these vital nutrients, which impact every cell in the body. Less obvious but equally critical is the role the gut plays in regulating the immune system and identifying friend from foe.

 The digestive process is a bit of a mystery to most people. We know what goes in and what comes out—it’s what happens in between that turns everything from leaves of lettuce to bites of meat into fuel and essential building blocks for our bodies where many of us lack some details. The digestive system has five main functions: (1) breaking down food into usable nutrients; (2) absorbing nutrients; (3) keeping out invaders and identifying friend from foe; (4) regulating the immune system; and (5) eliminating waste.

 Modern medicine is learning what many traditional cultures knew all along—a  healthy gut is critical for a healthy body.
 The process begins in the mouth with chewing, an under-appreciated part of digestion, which breaks food down into smaller pieces that would otherwise have to be broken down by chemical processes alone. Chewing also moistens and mixes the food with saliva. The first chemical breakdown of food also occurs in the mouth thanks to salivary amylase, an enzyme that begins breaking down carbohydrates. Afterwards, food in the mouth is swallowed and travels down the esophagus to the stomach.

 The body requires both macro and micronutrients. There are three main types of macronutrients—carbohydrates, fats and proteins. “Carbs” come in simple forms such as sugars as well as complex forms, which are basically chains of sugars. Foods like rice, bread, potatoes and pasta are rapidly broken down to sugar and tend to spike blood sugar levels relatively quickly. Foods with more complex forms of carbohydrates, including most vegetables, are broken down more slowly and tend not to raise blood sugar very much. Still other carbohydrates cannot be broken down by our body and may pass through the upper part of the digestive system and into the colon, where they serve as food and fuel for the microbes living there.

 The other two main macronutrients also serve key functions. A substantial portion of the human body consists of protein, and amino acids serve as the building blocks of protein to enhance our bodily functions and make muscle. Fats are equally important. They are the most dense source of calories for the body, yielding 9 calories/gram compared to 4 calories/gram for protein and carbohydrates; they serve as reservoirs of energy storage for the body and as the key components of our cell membranes. They are also critical for maintaining cell structural integrity.

 Once food reaches the stomach, it’s mixed with fluids and stomach acid. Stomach acid is in actuality hydrochloric acid, a strong chemical acid, but thanks to mucus and a specialized lining, the stomach remains protected, enabling it to serve as a holding tank that regulates the delivery of food to the intestines. Acid is vitally important to the breakdown of food, especially proteins, which are broken into smaller fragments that can be further digested in the intestines.

 Two other vital organs that feed into the upper intestines and perform critical digestive functions are the liver and the pancreas. As the metabolic powerhouse of the body, the liver produces many important proteins and detoxifies chemicals and hormones and excretes them into the bile. Bile is concentrated in the gallbladder, which pumps it into the intestine when stimulated by food. Bile allows the liver to rid the body of toxins and metabolic waste products and helps with the digestion of fats through emulsification, making them more soluble. 

 The pancreas plays a central role in both digestion and regulating metabolism through the production and secretion of insulin, along with other hormone-like molecules. The pancreatic fluids secreted into the intestines contain three different types of digestive enzymes—proteases, lipases and amylases. Proteases break down protein into smaller pieces and eventually into amino acids. Lipases break down fats into fatty acids and amylase breaks down starch into sugars. As such, it’s easy to assess the importance of digestive enzymes. However, disease and the aging process can limit production. When this happens, it can prove beneficial to add enzyme supplements to your diet on a regular basis.

 Food from the stomach is fed into the small intestine, where the majority of nutrients are absorbed. It consists of three parts—in digestive order the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The small intestines have many folds and are covered with multiple projections, called villi, which in turn are covered with microvilli that further increase the surface area to over 400 square feet.

 Adequate breakdown of food and the health and integrity of the intestinal lining are both key to preserving health. In a healthy gut the lining is protected by intact membranes that form a tight seal to keep anything from seeping between the cells into the bloodstream. But a damaged or leaky lining allows protein fragments and other molecules that would normally remain in the gut to pass through and enter the bloodstream. And if the proteins, carbohydrates and fats are not fully broken down by stomach acid and enzymes before entering the bloodstream, the situation becomes even worse.
 When digestion is incomplete due to a lack of stomach acid, deficiencies in digestive enzymes and insufficient bile or a microbiome that is out of balance, larger particles may get into the bloodstream.

 Once these larger molecules that normally stay inside the gut reach the bloodstream, the immune system identifies them as foreign invaders and attacks by targeting antibodies and different types of immune cells against them. When the problem of incomplete digestion causes symptoms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract itself, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain may occur.  And when these fragments travel throughout the bloodstream, autoimmune problems such as certain types of arthritis or even thyroid problem issues occur. 

 Where  Do Healthy  Bacteria In The Gut  Come From?

 Babies are born without any bacteria in their gut; those born vaginally develop a wider variety of healthy normal bacteria sooner than babies born by Cesarean Section as the trip through the birth canal inoculates them with healthy bacteria from the mother. While the full adult microbiome does not usually get established until around age 4, children who  have siblings, grow up with a dog, go to daycare and play outdoors are less likely to have certain types of health  problems (such as asthma) and tend to have more  complete and healthier microbiomes.

 What Can Go Wrong?

 Troubles with the GI system can occur anywhere along the way. Dry mouth and insufficient chewing can lead to swallowing problems, as well as issues breaking down food, since the body depends on the mechanical crushing action of chewing to increase the surface area of food and, in turn, to give the stomach acid, bile and enzymes a chance to act on that food.

 If you have eaten a wide variety of live foods throughout your life and rarely if ever taken antibiotics, you may have a diverse and healthy population of bacteria in your system. However, the diversity of the microbiome may decrease as you age, leading to the theory that this may be an important factor in the development of different diseases and a loss of resilience with age. If you have taken antibiotics during your life, your gut bacteria may be even less complete. In these circumstances taking a probiotic supplement on a regular basis may enhance your overall health.

 GERD – Acid Reflux

 Food passes from the esophagus into the stomach through the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) which acts like a valve, letting food into the stomach and preventing it from reentering the esophagus. However, when the LES fails to do its job, acid from the stomach or bile can back up into the esophagus, damaging the esophageal tissue and potentially causing burning pain or scarring.

 Reversible factors that can cause or worsen Gerd:
Mint or Peppermint
 Certain Medications

 Stomach Problems

 Stomach problems stem from three main causes: infections with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, medications and substances that damage the lining of the stomach and form substances that increase stomach acid. 

 Mild to moderate stomach problems result in gastritis, damage to the surface of the stomach lining, while more serious problems result in ulceration. Stomach ulcers can form deep holes in the stomach lining and cause serious bleeding or even perforation. Helicobacter pylori infections can be identified with blood, stool or breath tests. The infection can be eliminated with a combination of antibiotics and other stomach medicines. Treating Helicobacter infections greatly increases the chance of healing the ulcer and helps to prevent recurrence. 

Press Release comments:

Thanks for posting this PR!Terrance Collins

I'm a firm believer in probiotics/multi-enzyme product. The Acidophilus Cultures are the "good" bacteria that keep a balance in the small intestine. Interesting how those listed Gerd provokers are involved in so many health and wellness issues.This is a very nice run-down on "Healthy Gut", very important information, I really appreciate it, thank you very much.Francis Cassady

Great Press Release. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to the next one.Frank Andrews

Great Press Release. Thank you for sharing Keep up the good work!Bob & Shirley Rushing

Very well-researched and informative Press Release, Bobby! Thanks for sharing!Patricia Reynolds