Your Definitive Guide to Poor Digestion
If your body can’t properly digest and absorb the food in your small intestine, you can experience a multitude of unpleasant symptoms – gas, bloating and poor digestion. What’s more, the small intestine is the place where nutrients get absorbed and power up the processes in your body. Issues with absorption there may lead to the development of nutrient deficiencies or dysbiosis – an imbalance in the bacteria and flora in your intestinal tract.
At any time, your gut contains a carefully maintained balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. As undigested food travels down the digestive system, it feeds the ‘bad’ bacteria and starves the ‘good’ ones. When the improperly digested food reaches the large intestine, it will also impact the balance of good and bad bacteria in the colon. Eventually, these imbalances lead to gut inflammation which, if left untreated, can cause a multitude of health complaints and diseases.
What’s contributing to your poor digestion?
Poor digestion is often caused by low hydrochloric acid (HCL), also known as stomach acid. Its role is to maintain the acidic environment inside your stomach. When the combination of the HCL and the contents of your stomach get released into the small intestine, the acidity triggers the release of pancreatic enzymes, which are responsible for digestion inside the small intestine. The pancreas secretes important enzymes that buffer and neutralize the acid coming from your stomach, and that digest the fats, peptides and starches inside your small intestine. If there’s a deficiency or lack of these digestive enzymes, indigestion occurs.
One of the most common culprits is Leaky Gut – a medical condition that’s still shrouded in mystery. Leaky gut is characterized by the destruction of the brush border of your small intestine and can contribute to indigestion problems. If you’re sensitive to a food group or exposed to toxins, you may also experience inflammation which decreases the enzymatic production. The enzymes in your digestive tract are also particularly susceptible to stress, the effects of aging, as well as genetics.
If your poor digestion is due to enzyme deficiency, you can target the issue by supplementing. Using a digestive enzyme eases the burden of many of the most common root causes of chronic diseases like leaky gut, Candida or SIBO, as well as chronic inflammation due to a poor diet.
How to treat poor digestive function before it becomes a chronic health condition?
Treating poor digestive function is a complex and multifaceted issue and as such, requires a multifaceted solution. In functional medicine, we tend to use the 4R Approach, which removes, replaces, re-inoculated and repairs the digestive system. The 4R approach relies on several products which complement each other and work synergistically together, so taking them together can be beneficial.
1. Remove: The first step towards healing your gut is removing the factors that negatively impact your digestive tract. These include inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar, and minimizing the impact of infections from parasites, yeast, viruses or bacteria. I also recommend getting rid of irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, and drugs. In some cases, you may already have a severely compromised gut in which case it may be difficult to safely remove the foreign toxins and bacteria. If this is the case, I recommend supplementing with a binder such as the SBI Protect: it will safely eliminate the harmful bi-products or elements through your stool.
2. Replace: Once you have removed the main culprits of poor digestion, you need to replace the digestive enzymes which catalyze (boosts and initiates) the digestive process. The safest and most effective option is going with a digestive enzyme supplement like Digestzyme-V: it will restore and replenish the digestive enzymes, ensuring that your body can properly break down and absorb the nutrients from food. A recent study discovered a link between the health of the gastrointestinal system and the behavioral symptoms in autistic children, both of which showed improvement after supplementing with digestive enzymes.
If you suffer from acid reflux or have low stomach acid levels, you may also want to add an HCL supplement, like Betaine and Pepsin or Ortho Digestzyme. Ortho Digetzyme supports the pancreatic function in addition to the HCL and improves the breakdown of macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
How to know if your stomach acid level is low? Take a capsule of HCL with some water before a protein meal and see how you feel after 30 minutes. If you experience a burning sensation, it means your stomach acid levels are good so you don’t need to take more supplements. However, if you feel nothing, this is a good sign you might need to add additional HCL supplements.
3. Reinoculate: As we covered earlier, the imbalance between the good and bad bacteria is often the main culprit of poor digestion. To restore the healthy balance, you can reintroduce beneficial bacteria through high- quality, multi-strain, high-potency probiotics like Probiotic 225.
4. Repair: Last but certainly not least, you need to start repairing your gut by providing the necessary nutrients to restore its lining. What I usually recommend to my clients is Glutashield: it’s one of the most powerful weapons against the symptoms of a leaky gut because of its high concentration of L-glutamine – the fuel source for our cells to grow and repair. The glutamine in Glutashield is a key energy source for the gastrointestinal tract. It also maintains the integrity of the gut and enhances the protective mucosal lining. Glutamine is particularly important if you’re dealing with stress as it regulates the intestinal barrier function. It also stimulates the growth of the small intestinal mucosa and enhances ion transport by the gut, which is important to maintain the health of the digestive tract and protect it from atrophy and impairment.
When looking for a gut healing protocol, you should be striving not only for a therapeutic dose of high-quality glutamine but also make sure it contains high potency probiotics, as well as immunoglobulins. The latter is our bodies’ natural defense mechanism against foreign invaders.
Indigestion is certainly unpleasant, but it does it have to be your final health outcome. If you’re overcoming a leaky gut or experiencing digestive issues such as gas, bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea or undigested food in your stool, or if you are transitioning from a diet rich in processed foods; following a comprehensive gut healing protocol may be just what you need.
Indigestion is certainly unpleasant and often embarrassing. In my next blog, we will cover constipation – another problem that’s hard to miss but can be just as challenging to overcome. Stay tuned to read what causes your constipation and how you can get rid of it.
If you want to learn more about your own digestive health, please check out our free gut health evaluation. We offer in person, as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.