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Archive for digestive system

Healthy Body Systems: Intestinal System – Colon

If we consider that the Intestinal System is actually a major component of the Digestive System since its function is to “consume” the nutrients found in the food we eat and deliver them to the bloodstream for delivery to the rest of the body, then the Large Intestine, which we call the Colon, actually carry out the water reclamation and waste disposal function of the body.

The colon is also called the large intestine, begins in the lower right part of the abdomen, and is divided into four parts: the ascending colon which travels up the right side of the abdomen, the transverse colon that runs across the abdomen, the descending colon that travels down the left side of the abdomen, and the sigmoid colon that curves to align the colon with the rectum to allow waste to leave the body.

The colon removes water, salt, and some nutrients from the stool and has muscles that line the colon’s walls, squeezing its contents along. Like a balloon, as this muscle is overfilled and evacuated for some time, it begins to “dimple”. These dimples are called diverticula and are pockets where foreign mater can collect, become inflamed, and cause disease. Therefore, regular bowel movements are necessary; ideally, you should have a bowel movement about 45 minutes after each meal.

To keep your bowel healthy, you need fiber, water, and regular bowel movements. There are two types of fiber that are necessary – soluble and insoluble.

I call the soluble fiber “sponges”.  They wipe down the colon walls, absorb toxins, and help remove liquid waste.  We refer to herbs that perform these actions as mucilage – herbs like slippery elm, glucomannan, and marshmallow.

The insoluble fiber I call “brooms”. This type of fiber “sweeps” heavier waste and scrubs colon walls to remove the more solid waste material from the colon as the muscle linings move all the waste along. Herbs that help perform these functions generally contain more cellulose/structure, like acacia, psyllium, and cascara sagrada.

A healthy colon will also have billions of probiotics (friendly bacteria) lining its walls, living in a healthy balance with the body.

As for a healthy colon diet:

  • Increase your fiber intake. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Consider apples, pears, raspberries, bananas, oranges, and cooked peas, corn, broccoli, and artichoke. Add whole grains and legumes: Consider whole wheat flour, barley, quinoa, wild rice, oatmeal, and beans.
  • limit red meat consumption. Try to stay under 100 grams of red meat, and under 50 grams of processed meats.
  • keep sugar intake at a minimum because of its inflammatory potential.
  • control your weight

Last year our blogs covered the topic of cleansing for each body system. I would reiterate here that an annual bowel/colon detox could be helpful in keeping the colon functioning well. (Refer to last year’s colon cleansing blog.)

Colon issues can be very uncomfortable, and also very deadly. Keep it healthy.  Add “intestinal” to your list of Healthy Body Systems!

–  Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is the Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.

Berberine

This month we are talking about the small intestine and the importance of keeping it healthy and what can be done to bring back balance and health to this vital portion of the digestive tract. 

Bacteria is necessary for the function of the digestive system but most of the bacteria needs to be in the large intestine not the small intestine.  Too many bacteria in the small intestine can cause a condition called SIBO or Small Intestinal Overgrowth.  SIBO can cause the small intestine to not be able to keep up with its important job of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies and uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating.  Berberine has been found to have great benefits for the small intestine by helping to restructure the balance of the microbiome and reducing bacteria overgrowth.

So what is this Berberine?  It may sound like it is something new, but Berberine has been used for centuries by natural health practitioners.  It is an alkaloid—a naturally occurring compound—found in plants that have traditionally been used where infections have been present such as Barberry, Goldenseal, and Oregon grape Root. 

Modern studies are showing that not only is the Berberine found in these plants beneficial against infection, but this alkaloid may be helpful in other conditions like diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, and high cholesterol.  In fact, it was written in the December 2012 issue of Natural Medicine Journal  “Any condition that would be favorably impacted by a patient losing weight and or exercising more may be impacted favorably with oral berberine supplementation.”

“It makes sense to consider berberine for clients with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, dyslipidemia, cancer, depression, and other neuropsychiatric diseases.”

In a 2015 Endrocrinol journal it was stated: “…..modern pharmacological effects of berberine on glucose metabolism…include improving insulin resistance, promoting insulin secretion…..”

Not only has berberine shown to help improve the regulation and function of insulin, but it also appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells.  Good news for those of us needing to lose weight!

Losing weight and controlling insulin levels are both great benefits for the heart and the use of berberine is showing some even more positive effects on the heart and high blood pressure by stimulating the release of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes arteries.  That means better blood flow and lower blood pressure.

High Cholesterol?  Yep, berberine may help there too.  Eleven clinical trials with a total of 874 participants noted that berberine may reduce LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL.  That means down with the bad and up with the good, just what a healthy body needs.

Increase insulin function, inhibit growth of fat cells, stimulate nitric oxide, lower cholesterol, fight infection, and reduce bacterial overgrowth. Could we have a silver bullet here?  Maybe not, but when you add in the anti-inflammatory properties of berberine and research showing positive effects on pain reduction in arthritic conditions, we may be getting close

Especially in America where nearly 34 million people have diabetes (95% is Type 2), 54 million people have an arthritic condition, 4 in 10 Americans are obese, and approximately 60% of people diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrom also have SIBO, supplementing with berberine in either isolate form or in an herbal sounds like something to look in to.

Always be sure to use quality supplements that have been sourced and harvested well.  We here at The Healthpatch are always happy to help you find your best supplements.

Health and Blessings,

Kimberly Anderson, ND

For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030, e-mail pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

The Digestive System: Root of Good Health

Our digestive system has many functions similar to how roots function in plants. They both absorb nutrients and water. If we are not properly absorbing the nutrients we need, this can lead to a host of issues. If fact, up to 50% of health ailments we suffer from can be rooted in poor digestive health; making the digestive system the root of good health when absorbing and functioning well and the root of poor health when it is not.

Toxins in foods, medications, environmental toxins and stress can all be culprits that can disrupt proper digestion and lead to irritation in the digestive tract that can cause such symptoms as bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, diarrhea and constipation. It’s not just these symptoms we need to be concerned about either. Up to 70% of immune tissue is found in and around the digestive tract and up to 90% of serotonin receptors are found in the gut; making gut health imperative to a healthy immune function and healthy mood.

So, how can we keep a healthy and happy digestive system?

Diet The most important step for a healthy digestive system is to look at what we are ingesting. Processed foods and allergens can create a world of havoc on digestion. Common food allergens are wheat, dairy and corn. Of course, there can be many other offending foods, but these are very good places to begin omitting foods that can cause gut irritation. Committing to healing foods like the Paleo diet can go a long way in healing the digestive tract.

Enzymes We have often heard the saying “We are what we eat.” In actuality, we are what we digest. We can eat very nutritiously, but if we are not breaking down and assimilating foods well, we will not benefit with nourishment needed for energy and good health. Enzymes are protein structures that have the ability to combine substances or to take them apart and regulate numerous body functions. They are typically found in raw foods. Because it is difficult to eat a 100% raw diet, supplementing with a plant-based enzyme supplement is important for good digestion.

Probiotics Good intestinal biofilm is crucial for good health. These biofilms act as a protective barrier against toxins and aids in assimilating nutrients. Biofilm is created by good bacteria in the gut. Once again, poor diets, stress and antibiotic use are destroyers of this good gut flora. Supplementing with a good probiotic as well as eating cultured vegetables and yogurt can help restore the intestinal biofilm.

Stress The big “S” word. Seems like we just can’t strive for good health without dealing with stress. As mentioned above, stress depletes the body of good gut flora, creating a poor foundation for health, and it also decreases our bodies ability to digest properly. Digestion works best when we are relaxed; making it important, as much as possible, to eat our meals in a low stress environment. That means avoiding eating while driving. Eating with family during the holidays might count as stressful, but we have an herb for that!
We here at The Health Patch are happy to help you find the best supplements for better digestion and a happy digestive system.

Health and Blessings,
Kimberly Anderson, ND

For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd., Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or email pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit https://thehealthpatch.com.