Show Notes on How to Fix Your Digestion:
Thank you for listening to Wholebeing RN Radio! Join me for this episode diving deep on 6 ways you fix your digestion, your guts, and thus your wellness.
Join me as we dive deep into how to fix your digestion, what digestion troubles cause (its more than bloating), and what we can do about it.
In this episode, we are talking about these key digestion fixing points (you can scroll down to read the article if you prefer) :
- How does your digestive system work?
- What causes digestive problems?
- The cycle of digestive problems
- How to tell if you have digestive troubles?
- How to fix digestive troubles?
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Free Wellness Tribe
- 7-Day Spark
- Wellness Tools (Supplement Brand Recommendations)
- 10-Day Gentle Sugar Detox
- Body Wisdom Waitlist
- Meditation Quickie
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6 Ways to Fix Your Digestion
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Lately, we have been discussing a lot about inflammation and chronic low-grade inflammation being the root cause of so many troubles that manifest in the body as disease and illness. Just like chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, the digestive system is the home of that root cause in most cases.
This week we are taking looking more in-depth at how to fix your digestion because the digestive tract is where most of the chronic inflammation in our bodies come from. Improving your digestion, ultimately, albeit sometimes slowly, improves your overall wellness.
How does the digestive system work?
Just to be clear since the “digestive” system can mean a lot of little things or the whole thing, let's talk about what I mean by the “digestive system.” When I am talking about how to fix your digestion and digestive system, I’m referring to the super amazing system that includes a combination of hormones, bacteria, blood, nerves and organs that work as a team to take the food and liquids you eat and turn it into fuel for your body and literally turn it into the cells in your body.
This all starts in the mouth, chewing your food allowing it to mix with saliva starts the process of breaking down food into a form that your body can absorb. Once you swallow, the food moves into the esophagus which carries the food and liquids from your mouth down into your stomach.
From the esophagus, the food and drink lands in the stomach. Think of the stonmach as a holding tank for food while the body works to properly digest a meal. The stomach not only holds the food but also mixxes and grinds it with improtant acids and digestive enzymes to turn the food into a liquid or paste so it can move on to the next step.
From the stomach, the food - now paste- travels into the small intestine. The small intestine is about 20 feet long, when you hear me say gut or microbiome this is generally where we are talking about. The small intestine is lined with little finger like protrusions, kind of like a shag carpet, called villi. Each finger or villis is covered with smaller protrusions called microvilli and they are key to digestion and nutrient absorption. They are covered in enzymes that help to break down nutrtiens into an abosrbable form. These little hair-like microvilli help to prevent leaks in the systems or leaky gut.
One the food paste makes it through the small intestine, roughly 90% of the nutrients have been extracted. Then it moves on to the large intestine. This section is about 5 feet long, as I mentioned most of the absorption of nutrients have taken place by this point but there are some fat soluble vitamins and minerals, and water that can be absorbed in the large intestine or colon as well.
Flora (or gut bacteria) in the large intestine break down wastes and extract any remaining nutrients and the leftovers, well, exit the body. What exits the body is mostly food debris and bacteria.
Aside from the journey food takes through the body, there are a few more parts to making the digestive system work, including the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
The liver is an important part of the digestive system. It produces and secretes bile into the small intestine which helps the body to break down the fats you eat into fatty acids. The liver also filters and cleanses the blood coming from the small intestine to filter, detoxify, absorb and store the nutrients. The liver has the amazing ability to break down and store amino acids, synthesize and metabolize fats and cholesterol, store glucose, and regulate our internal functions.
The gallbladder is a small organ that stores and recycles excess bile from the small intestine to be recycled for future meals digestion processes. It is located under the liver and stores bile that is made in the liver, which then travels to the gallbladder through the cystic duct. The gallbladder stores bile between meals and goes into action when we eat, squeezing the bile through the bile ducts into the small intestine.
The pancreas is this sponge-like organ that plays a role in digestion by secreting digestive enzymes into the small intestine that completes the chemical digestion of foods. It also of course produces and secretes insulin. A balance is needed of the hormone insulin and the digestive enzyme secreted by the pancreas to keep the digestive system trucking along properly.
A closer look at the cycle of digestive troubles...
Now that you have a solid idea of how the digestive system works and what's involved, let's look at the cycle that gets us in trouble.
The food we eat, or stress, or environmental stressors trigger changes in our gut microbiome, this happens through various ways but essentially the shag carpet gets damaged and we end up with a breakdown in the lining of the gut. This is literally where the term “leaky gut” comes from.
Once we have damaged the gut, and it leaks, even good nutrients cause the immune system to activate and go on high alert. The immune system starts producing an inflammatory response that leads to a host of different troubles in our body and brain (next week we will dig deeper into how this affects your mind, mood, and nervous system) including autoimmune disease, arthritis, diabetes, blood pressure troubles, depression, anxiety, acne, you name it.
How do I know if I have digestive troubles and what causes them??
Like most things, I like to talk about the physical and energetic side of things, because they are woven together.
Energetic troubles are often perceived physically, and in the chakra system the solar plexus chakra is considered the “brain of the body.” Here are two examples of physical manifestations and the energy that goes with them:
- pot-belly or carrying the weight in the mid-section can be a sign of an excessive need for power, dominance, and control. This is often an overactive solar plexus chakra.
- a sunken-in stomach, although some may consider desirable, usually indicates a weakened solar plexus chakra
Other ways to know are by answering some simple questions.
Are you full of energy? Do you have skin trouble? Maybe it's cysts, maybe it's acne, maybe it's rashes, bumpy skin, sebaceous cysts even. Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Do you have headaches? Do you have mood disorders? Are you anxious, depressed? Are you having swelling issues or joint pain, such as arthritis?
These are all signs of inflammation, that indicate troubles in the digestive system.
Other signs might be more subtle, but you are prone to problems with your digestive system if you are under physical or mental stress or even environmental stress, such as medications or exposed to chemicals or pollution.
The largest trigger for digestive troubles is the food you eat. If you consume gluten, dairy, alcohol or processed foods, it is likely that you suffer from digestive troubles ranging from full blown noticeable issues in the bathroom to chronic low-grade inflammation.
I refer to the trigger foods as the 5 IFs or Inflammatory Foods, they are sugar, artificial sugar, vegetable oils, gluten, and dairy. Let’s take a closer look.
Sugar might be the most common inflammation culprit, and getting rid of it can fix your digestion. It is a highly inflammatory ingredient and hidden ingredient in so many things.
Here's the problem, most of us have some level of inflammation due to eating too much sugar all together. Too much is categorized by more than about 100-120 unbalanced carbs or unbalanced grams of sugar in a day, most people have that much or more in a meal (even children). (Unbalanced means that it's not matched by fiber.)
When you eat more than 100-120 carbs in a day of unmatched carbohydrates you are creating a heavy inflammatory load in the body. Many people when I first start working with them eat 100-120 or more grams of sugar for breakfast...try adding yours up and see.
Most of the time these are hidden sugars used as preservatives in packaged and processed foods, the more packaged foods you eat the more sugar you are eating by default.
My freebie 10-Day Gentle Sugar Detox will help you learn how to spot these hidden sugars in your foods and detox from sugar without the nasty side effects.
Aside from the direct correlation between artificial sweeteners and cancer, artificial sugar also contributes to insulin resistance as much if not more than sugar, leading to a problem that kills more people than cancer every year...Type 2 diabetes.
On top of cancer and Type 2 Diabetes, artificial sweeteners also disrupt your body's ability, specifically your small intestines' ability to properly digest other food. Eventually, the gut becomes so damaged that everything you eat inflames and damages it further.
Vegetable oils have two problems. One, they're high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which is the inflammatory omega. And they're very low in the Omega 3 fatty acids, which is the anti-inflammatory omega. They also contain really high levels of something called AGEs, advanced glycation end-products. These are highly oxidized free radicals and wreck your cellular health. Cellular health vital.
Vegetable oil is in a lot of things. Packaged foods will often have vegetable oils used as a preservative and it's often rancid after it sits on the shelf.
Gluten is clearly proven inflammatory and is in about 85% of foods that come in a package. Even those that you wouldn’t expect it in, like soups or salad dressings. Of all the things we talk about nutritionally, there are really two things that aren't healthy for anybody ever, and gluten is one of them. It's just a varying degree of how unhealthy it is. In my clinical, anecdotal, and research experience gluten has a role in most chronic diseases.
When you remove gluten, you reduce inflammation in the entire body and start the course to improve the digestive system.
Dairy is the often overlooked and oh-so-inflammatory partner to gluten. I found that the majority of people don't tolerate dairy well, and it's not the lactose so those fixes won’t help. It's the casein. You may not know it, you may even be in denial about it but it's true. If you have a problem with mucous, even if it's just seasonal, in the fall maybe or in the spring, depending on where you live. If you always have a cold, if all winter long you kind of had that snotty cold nose going on, dairy is going to be the culprit for upwards of 85-90% of you. It’s also a big contributor for why people try a diet like keto and don’t lose weight. For some reason dairy is one thing people literally tell me they are “afraid” of giving up.
Whether it is food, stress, or environmental exposure, it all leads to breakdowns in the barrier in the small intestine which starts the inflammatory cascade in your body. In my Body Wisdom Method ™, I teach you how to do this without having to suffer through the testing of this, but it really is eye-opening to experiment with and see in 3-D if you need dairy in your life.d
How to fix digestion issues?
Let’s start with energetically, because as you know, good energetic hygiene adds another layer of benefit to holistic healing. This can be done alone or used to further the physical efforts we will discuss below.
As I mentioned, some of the ways that we know the digestive system is out of whack are physical manifestations and some are strictly energetic. There are several methods to choose from ranging from DIY to visiting practitioners to heal or assist in healing using the energetic approach. You know I love to teach you to heal yourself and become a healer in your own home, so we will cover several options here.
Crystal Healing Session
For the digestive system, one of my favorites is pyrite. You may have seen it called “fool’s gold.” It’s naturally occurring mineral that is shiney and grows in the cube shape naturally. This is a powerful tool for “righting” the 3rd chakra and the digestive system. Simply hold it in your left hand or carry it in your pocket.
Alternatively, you can hold it in your left hand over your 3rd chakra and circle your right hand in front of it in a clockwise motion.
For those less into DIY, you can schedule an in-person or distance crystal healing session here. A crystal session is a minimal touch, clothes on therapy for re-balancing those energy centers in the body.
Grounding is one of my favorite methods for improving digestion. As we know it stops inflammation in its tracks whether you mentally/energetically ground or physically ground your body but it also helps your digestion because it demands you focus on the present.
Download my free guide to meditation here.
Movement is key for your mid-section, and not just in a “move more lose more” way. It actually affects the nerve centers that innervate the digestive tract. A few of the things you can do for the digestive tract are dancing, yoga, and jogging. If you are local to Denton or the Lake Cities, definitely check out Pure Synergy for your Yoga needs. They have a variety of therapeutic yoga classes to fit everybody.
The awesome thing about homeopathy, other than the fact that is works, is that it allows you to be a healer in your own home. Here are some of my favorite for digestive issues: nux vomica, bay leaf, ceanothus, caesium.
If you are feeling in the dark or confused about homeopathy or if you feel like you need a "prescription" dose, then feel free request an in-person or virtual appointment here.
Belt Flow is one of my favorite things to restore when someone is having digestive problems, and even if you have healed those problems, it can still be an important part of your daily energetic hygiene if you are prone to these type issues. If you would like a full energy appointment, local or virtual, schedule that here.
Here is a quick demo I did on Facebook for this process. The demo starts at 20:21 if you want to avoid watching the entire video.
Once there are physical symptoms of digestive disruption rather than just energetic symptoms of imbalance, often we need to combine energetic work with physical changes. That’s where a functional approach is useful in healing digestive troubles.
In functional medicine, the standard protocol is known as the 5 Rs: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, Repair, and Rebalance, this a protocol that I use for clients in my practice, but there is also a small sustainable shifts method that mimics these steps. It takes longer to heal but I have found the results are longer lasting too.
First, let’s start with the 5 R’s. This begins with Remove. To remove means to eliminate the things you are putting in your body that is causing inflammation which is contributing to your poor gut health. This stage typically involves some lifestyle rearrangement, because we are removing several facets of removing toxins, including emotional stress, environmental stressors, and foods you have a sensitivity or allergy to. It may start with a simple detox or maybe simple elimination.
Next, we replace, this may include a number of different supplements but the gist is to replace the “things” necessary to ensure proper digestion. This may mean the introduction of digestive supplements such as enzymes to replace missing components in your digestion.
Third, we Reinoculate and begin introducing good bacteria back into the gut, sometimes this is done simultaneously with the Replace stage. Most frequently, this happens with a really strong probiotic. I like everyone to be on 30-50 billion CFU a day, so for swift work, we would go higher than that, and depending on the specific issue, its prudent to select specific strains to fit your needs. This is critical to rebuilding the healthy gut microbiome foundation.
Once we have a nice reinoculated gut, your body can start putting to use all of the vitamins and nutrients you need. Typically during the Repair stage, you can begin to add these types of things you may be lacking in the form of supplements if you do this step before the others...you may end up wasting money on supplements your body can’t put to good use anyway.
After the gut is handled, it’s time to shift focus to other areas in your life that may need to be Rebalanced. Not just nutritionally, but in all aspects of your life, because as we discussed negative influences from all types affect the gut. This is the stage to balance sleep, emotions, stress, energy body, and other areas to make the modifications necessary to be the best expression of you.
Alternatively, you can just remove the inflammation and begin supplementation in some cases. This reduces the inflammation and begins to shift the gut health to improve overall wellness.
Usually, this is done with supplements.
Supplements for Digestive Health
Just like the foods we eat are uber important in reducing inflammation, we can help combat existing and new inflammation by making sure we supplement the nutrients we aren’t getting enough of. Important supplements to reduce inflammation include Omega 3s, Probiotics, and Minerals like Magnesium and Potassium are all important in your digestive function. The first question I get from readers is always what brand to use, so visit my recommendations page to check it out. (By the way, these are important for adults but super important for kids too!)
To wrap up digestion talk...
That about does it for this episode of Wholebeing RN Radio. I hope that you are leaving here with a good idea of just how important the digestive system is.
You really are what you eat, and the digestive system is responsible for taking what you eat and turning it into you from the cells up. As always, everything in life is a choice, you have the power in your life and existence to make that choice, you can choose to live better, and mitigate stress, you can choose to reduce your inflammation, and improve your digestive function.
Ultimately you and the expression of you in your human suit is up to you and the choices you make, so work towards making good ones. In this instant gratification society, know that every choice you make in the right direction is progress, even if the two before or the one after isn’t the best choice. It’s as simple as that, meditate and mitigate the stress, sleep well, eat well, have good energetic hygiene to reduce the inflammation in your body.
Feel free to ask questions, comment below, or jump into the Wellness Tribe for all sorts of benefits, including a complimentary Q&A each week.