Digestion and Nutrition: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Are you certain your body is properly digesting and absorbing the healthy food you so carefully choose and prepare?
Your health is inextricably linked not only to the food on your plate, but also to how well your body actually uses this food. There are many key digestive processes that take place, starting the moment you contemplate your meal until it’s waste products are finally eliminated when nature calls. The efficiency with which your body breaks down and absorbs nourishing food determines many important aspects of your health - digestive, immune, hormonal, neurological, metabolic (think weight loss), joint and skin. So, if you’ve made an effort to eat nutritious food and have not noticed clear, sustained improvements in your overall physical and mental health or have not been able to lose excess weight, despite your best efforts - it’s time to take a closer look at - you guessed it - your digestive health. Even if you don’t think you have digestive issues - because very often the symptoms are tricky and hard to find.
A few years ago, while I searched for answers to my health concerns (you can read my personal health story here: Rebirth: Finding My Health, Happiness and Destiny); I spent hours shopping for the best ingredients available so I could cook wholesome, delicious food in my kitchen. I mostly used organic fruits and vegetables, a wide range of organic whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, some pasture-raised meat, free-range chicken, eggs and wild fish.
However this typical, healthy “whole foods diet” didn’t resolve my pressing health concerns. Basic good nutrition fell short in my case, because my body’s ability to digest many of these foods had been severely compromised. And surprisingly, I had no clue - no indication whatsoever. There was nothing that even vaguely hinted at poor digestion! I could accurately time my normal daily bowel movement and I didn’t experience abdominal pain or bloating unless it accompanied my monthly cycle.
So obviously, it was shocking to eventually discover that at the the root of all my health concerns (hypothyroidism, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, acne, PMS and hair fall) was a set of fundamental digestive issues:
My body’s inability to completely break down many foods, leaving undigested food particles to rot and become toxic in my digestive tract.
An intestinal lining that was inflamed and damaged with tiny holes (commonly referred to as a leaky gut*), enabling the undigested food particles, toxins and microbes to enter my bloodstream and cause unfavorable immune reactions, widespread inflammation, and tissue and/or organ damage. My leaky gut also prevented the absorption of vital nutrients.
Poor liver function due to the overload caused by the undigested food particles and toxins on a daily basis, thereby affecting basic detoxification pathways.
Gut dysbiosis - which means my gut had a significantly larger population of bad bacteria versus good bacteria. This may have been the biggest issue of all, causing and perpetuating the above mentioned problems. This imbalance in gut microbiota lead to poor digestion, poor immune response, compromised synthesis of important vitamins and lowered protection from harmful bacteria.
*Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the tight junctions between cells in the delicate lining of the digestive tract open up wider than they should, causing undigested food particles, toxins, and microbes to pass into your bloodstream.
Research is currently exploding with information on how digestive issues like leaky gut and gut dysbiosis affect our health, with many compelling articles linking these conditions to specific diseases and disorders, and the list continues to grow. Here is a short list of some conditions that have been linked to leaky gut and/or gut dysbiosis: depression and anxiety (1), metabolic disorders like obesity (2), Hashimotos’ thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases (3, 4), skin disorders like acne, eczema and psoriasis (5,6,7), gas, bloating and digestive pain, including IBS (8,9), PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) (10), allergies and food sensitivities (11), type 2 diabetes (12, 13) and migraines (14).
Skeptics would correctly state that the current medical literature although very compelling, is still in the preclinical phase. Which means we know a lot on the subject but not enough for accurate medical diagnosis and treatment (this might take another 10-15 years).
To these skeptics I pose a simple question: When you have the power to reverse difficult chronic conditions, via nutrition and lifestyle techniques that are guided by good science - so there’s no real risk involved here - is it really worth waiting around for an accurate diagnostic test and a clinical-trial approved treatment? When you can reverse your difficult symptoms and enjoy a sound, healthy body now, without any side-effects, why wait?
In fact, convinced by the current research, many reputable, experienced doctors and other clinicians have started treating autoimmune diseases and other conditions linked to leaky gut and gut dysbiosis with a model that focuses heavily on nutrition. This approach will eventually become mainstream. It’s just a matter of time.
The Nutritional Model I Typically Use To Fix Digestion
Going beyond a healthy “whole foods diet” was the solution to all my health concerns. Today I’m depression, anxiety, PMS and chronic fatigue free. My acne and hair fall are drastically reduced and continue to diminish. I’ve more than halved my thyroid medication.
All thanks to the following approach that repaired and healed my gut:
(i) Finding and removing specific foods that my body couldn’t digest anymore, like gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs; thus addressing multiple food sensitivities that I had developed unawares
(ii) Adding nourishing, easy to digest foods to heal my inflamed gut, replenish vital nutrients, and increase beneficial bacteria; like bone-broth and fermented foods
(iii) Eliminating other foods and unnecessary medications that are known to cause gut inflammation and/or contribute to gut dysbiosis like sugar, coffee, alcohol, antibiotics, and NSAIDS (like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen)
Was This Model Easy to Follow?
There are challenges in the beginning, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes a way of life. Not only have I personally incorporated this new way of eating, but I’ve also helped many clients successfully adopt similar diets.
There are always differences between each client’s set of health concerns, food preferences, personalities and lifestyle, so customization is absolutely essential to getting good results. "Bio-individuality", a term that basically means this - there is no perfect diet that will work for everyone or even the same person all the time - is another important consideration for success. Each person's body is unique and many foods while wholesome and nutritious for one person, could be poison for another. So the nutritional model to fix digestion works best when bio-individuality and customization are factored into the equation. This brings incredible results - and results are what it’s all about - lasting results that give you more energy, health and vitality to live your dream life .
Good nutrition is important for health. Good digestion is just as vital. They really are two sides of the same coin.
Now, I'd love to hear from you.
Are you suffering from chronic fatigue, brain-fog, depression/anxiety, weight loss resistance, a skin disorder like acne, allergies, headaches, acid reflux, gas, bloating, other digestive concerns like IBS, or an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's thyroiditis? Would you consider using a nutritional model to fix your digestion and alleviate these symptoms or conditions?