Digestion Demystified – Part 1

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off on Digestion Demystified – Part 1

As a naturopathic doctor, I always look to treat the root cause of your health concern or imbalance.  If I were to pick one system that influences your body’s overall health more than any other major system, it would be easy: your digestive system.
 
Over half of your nervous system and immune system live in your gut,and a healthy digestive system sets these up for success.   Unbalanced digestion is linked to auto-immune disorders, inflammatory disorders, and mood disorders, and it has a huge influence on your hormones. 
 
Although they’re such an important part of our overall health, we often take our guts for granted.  Why is this?  My theory is that we just don’t learn about the full effects of digestion at an early age, and a lot of us live somewhat detached from our bodies.  But, if you think about it, your digestive system is what decides what is allowed into your body, and what stays out.  It is an essential player in keeping your body safe, as well as making sure you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
 
But, what if your system for deciding which things “should” go in and which “shouldn’t” isn’t working?  If your intestinal barrier, which normally protects you, is damaged, things can get into your blood stream that shouldn’t.  Or, what if on the other end of the spectrum, your body isn’t able to break down your food enough to pass through your intestinal barrier?  In this case, it passes right on through and you miss out on the health benefits of all the great food choices you’re making.  You could even have a combination of these situations.  Yikes. 
 
Lastly, what if your normal gut flora, which lives on the lining of your digestive tract, is missing?  In this case, the lining is like an empty parking lot that just about anyone can move into and take up space in.
 
Your digestive system is also one of the top 3 exits your body uses to get rid of toxins and waste, along with the liver and kidney.  If things aren’t moving out…well, they’re moving back in, and that’s the last thing you want. 
 
Overall, a healthy digestive system maintains balanced immune and nervous systems, protects you, helps you soak up the nutrients in your food efficiently, and is one of your body’s most important exit routes for toxins and waste.   
 
Now that you understand how central your digestion is to your overall health, you are probably wondering what you can do about it!  In the next newsletter, I’ll outline the three key things you need to have in place to set the stage for a healthy, balanced digestive system.