Apr 4, 2010

Good Digestion, Assimilation and Elimination

What Are The Key Points To Good Digestion, Assimilation and Elimination?

There are four main criteria for optimum digestion and elimination:
1. The correct type and amount of digestive enzymes.
2. Adequate acidophilus and other ‘friendly’ intestinal bacteria.
3. The correct pH (acid/base balance) in each area of the digestive tract (acidic in the stomach, alkaline in the small intestine, neutral in the large intestine).
4. Having an adequate amount of fiber in the diet.

How Does Poor Digestion Cause Disease In The Body?
1. Nutritional Deficiencies.
Most significantly, a person who is not digesting their food well cannot obtain the optimum amount of nutrients from their food that help rebuild, repair, and regenerate the body.

2. Fermentation/Decomposition.
Poor digestion also causes slower transit time of the food through the digestive tract. This prolonged transit time often causes the food to ferment causing gas formation. After this, the fermenting foods begin to decompose or rot (causing toxic chemical formation).

3. Self-Toxification/Colon Problems.
Another factor is a deficiency of fiber in the diet. A lack of fiber in the stools causes the feces to become sticky. This combination of sticky, fermenting, and putrefied food produces toxins and ‘free-radicals’, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and can create a lining of toxic residues and mucus which coats the lower intestinal tract. This toxic, mucus plaque can contribute to numerous health conditions, such as diverticulitis, colitis, and other colon problems. The symptoms associated with this ‘self-toxification’ can include allergies, body aches, confusion, forgetfulness, headaches, and decreased energy.

4. Leaky-Gut Syndrome/Food Allergies.
A serious condition associated with poor digestion is “leaky-gut” syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs when foods are not digested completely. Large, poorly digested protein molecules force their way through the gut wall into the bloodstream. In the blood, instead of being delivered where needed as nutrients, these large proteins are recognized incorrectly by the immune system as an invader from outside the body. The immune system then mounts an antigen-antibody reaction, creating immune cells to attack the antigen. This is also known as having a food allergy attack. I believe that a large majority of ‘food allergies’ are simply due to poor digestion and this antigen-antibody reaction to proteins in the bloodstream.

5. Liver/Kidney Stress & Skin Conditions.
By constantly allowing these toxins to enter the bloodstream, it also places stress on the liver (major organ of detoxification) and kidneys (cleaners of the blood). If these organs become overworked, the skin will become an organ of elimination and you will begin to see skin conditions appearing. Many skin conditions are caused or contributed to by poor digestion and the resulting toxic environment of the intestinal tract.

6. Parasites/Yeast Infections.
Other conditions related to poor digestion and leaky-gut syndrome are parasite infections, which are more common that one would expect, and Candida albicans (yeast) infection of the intestinal tract.

All of these conditions increase the toxic load on the body and have a negative effect on the immune system. Patients are usually amazed by how many problems can be traced back to the underlying problems of poor digestion and a toxic colon. It is even more amazing to see what happens when a person who was once toxic from the previously described conditions chooses to use natural methods to detoxify, rebuild, and regenerate their body. Many have described the process as getting “a second chance” or “having a new lease on life”.

What Are Biochemical Enzymes and Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes are present in all living plant and animal cells. There are hundreds of kinds of biochemical enzymes in the body, constantly keeping our body functioning properly. Enzymes are like the battery in a car. Without the spark from the battery, even a brand new car won’t work. All life would cease to exist without enzymes, for they a vital source of life energy. Enzymes are the primary motivators (catalyst) for all natural biochemical (life) processes. Even though proteins, carbohydrates, fat and fiber are the building blocks of our bodies, they do not possess the energy (capacity to do work) that enzymes possess, necessary for digesting foods, liberating nutrients and assisting biochemical reactions.

Digestive enzymes, made by the pancreas, assist in digesting food we eat, making it small enough to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Despite obvious evidence of their importance, little thought is given (in modern medicine) to the role digestive enzymes play in completing the digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Plant-based enzymes (like those found in Extreme Health's Digestive Formula) work in the entire digestive tract, in a wide range of acid and alkaline environments. They allow your body to replenish and rebuild the pancreatic enzyme reserve, which takes a tremendous stress load off of the body. Taken with food they greatly assist the body in the digestion and assimilation of food nutrients. Taken away from food, digestive enzymes enter the bloodstream and act almost like a ‘second immune system’, digesting excess proteins in the blood, scavenging debris, decreasing inflammation, removing mucous, and cellular waste.

How Do Digestive Enzymes Work?
When a person eats proteins, carbohydrates, and fat, the pancreas responds by secreting the proper amounts and concentrations of protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes to digest the foods and transport their nutrients into the bloodstream. Organic raw foods contain the proper types and concentrations of enzymes in their cells to digest themselves (enzymes are responsible for aged fruit to rot or self-digest. Cooking or heating food kills the enzymes found in live foods. Nature intended for the enzymes within rot foods to assist the body in digestion). Eating organic produce adds little or no stress to the pancreas. Our bodies do not make the enzyme cellulose, which breaks down plant fiber, however, a plant-source cellulose enzyme supplement is appropriate therapy for certain conditions, such as green leafy vegetables intact in stools.

Do Organic Foods Contain More Enzymes?
Unfortunately, many commercially grown ‘live’ foods have been genetically altered to make them contain fewer enzymes. This allows these fruits and vegetables a longer shelf life. Haven’t you wondered how fruit and vegetables at commercial grocery stores stay on the shelves so long without spoiling? This is the reason health food stores usually have smaller produce stocks- they must sell and replace existing stock before the inherent enzymes begin the self-digestive process.

How Does The Body Become Depeted Of Enzymes?
The body’s ability to make pancreatic enzymes can be exhausted by eating a diet devoid of naturally occurring enzymes. This includes eating all types of cooked foods (enzymes are killed at 118 degrees), highly processed foods, and commercially grown produce. Each of us is born with a pancreatic enzyme “reserve”, a reserve that may be built up or depleted, but should not become depleted or overdrawn. Every time a person consumes cooked or processed food (devoid of enzymes) and the pancreas can not keep up with the enzyme demand placed on it, the digestive system recruits the enzyme supply from white blood cells (immune cells) to assist in completing digestion. These are the same enzymes the white blood cells used to ‘kill’ invading viruses and bacteria. Mobilizing the body’s immune system every time enzyme deficient food s eaten is known as “digestive leukocytosis”. This constant abuse can fatigue immune defense capabilities and lay the groundwork for degenerative conditions in the body.

How Do I Know If I Am Enzyme Deficient?
General fatigue and chronic, degenerative conditions (every day aches and pains) are the only outward evidence of enzyme deficiencies. Because the body donates enzymes from other areas of the body to meet existing needs (such as the immune system), deficiencies do not become apparent until these reserves can no longer meet the demand. It is Extendedly important then, to ensure that the body receives an dequate supply of enzymes, either through the consumption of raw food or concentrated plant enzyme supplementation.

What Is Acidophilus, Why Is It Important?
Lactobacillus acidophilus, and other ‘friendly’ intestinal bacteria, are called ‘probiotics’, which literally means “in support of life”. Lactobacillus acidophilus is very important for improving digestion and for the forming of certain vitamins, including vitamin B3, B6, biotin, and folic acid. Probiotics also produce natural antibiotic (antibacterial) substances which can kill or deactivate disease-causing bacteria and will ‘defend their territory’ against other microorganisms such as yeast or fungus. When the ‘good’ intestinal bacteria are depleted there are multiple negative effects in the body.

Does Antibiotic Drug Therapy Kill Acidophilus?
Antibiotic drug therapy is one of the main causes of the depletion of acidophilus in the body. Antibiotic drugs do not discriminate between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria when they are consumed. Prolonged antibiotic drug use can kill all of the ‘friendly’ probiotics, leaving the body defenseless. It is very important, if you choose to undergo antibiotic therapy, to re-introduce acidophilus and other probiotic bacteria while you are taking the antibiotics and especially after you finish the course of treatment. The antibiotics will kill most of the acidophilus you take while you are still taking the antibiotics. The goal is to not completely wipe out the colonies of ‘good’ bacteria while on the antibiotics, and to fully re-colonize the acidophilus after the completion of the therapy.

What Causes Gastritis And Ulcers?
In dealing with gastritis (stomach inflammation) and ulcerative conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, I have found that poor digestion and mental/emotional stress factors are often contributing factors. When food is not broken down (digested) well it ferments, putrefies (becomes rotten) and creates an acidic environment. This acidity irritates the lining of the digestive tract. Many over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs irritate the lining of the digestive tract and can contribute to ulcers forming. In dealing with ulcerative conditions you must rule out a Helicobacter bacterial infection, an abnormal microorganism or parasitic infection.

Why Can’t Antacids Prevent Or Cure Acid Indigestion?
I have seen many patients with conditions of excessive acid stomach or acid indigestion, and often the person is taking large amounts of antacids. A basic review of how the stomach works and an understanding how antacids help create the problem are all most people need, along with some digestive enzymes, to stop the problem. The problem is the body producing too much acid in the stomach. The stomach makes acid to break down proteins. If there is poor digestion, or if a person eats large meals or excessive proteins, the body can often make too much acid. To counteract the acid, people take antacids. This makes the stomach very alkaline. In order to create an acid environment again in the stomach the body has to make more- you guessed it- acid, which was the problem in the first place. This cycle of poor chewing (50% of digestion should take place in the mouth), poor digestion, and the acid/alkaline roller coaster can be reduced or avoided by chewing food well, and taking digestive enzymes with your meal. Many people think antacids are a good source of calcium. Unfortunately, this is not true. In order for calcium to be fully absorbed into the body, it must be assimilated in an acidic environment. Antacids, like their name says, provide a very alkaline environment, which would prevent the proper uptake of calcium.

When a state of balance is maintained by optimum digestion, the body is better able to prevent chronic health problems such as hypo or hyperglycemia; fatigue; headaches; candida; constipation; diarrhea; arthritis; allergies; infections or other conditions caused by a compromised immune system.