Gut health: burping bloating, constipation and diarrhea

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A wise man once said, ‘All diseases in start in the gut’, that was 2000 years ago. Hippocrates statement back then resonates more than ever before with the new knowledge we have in health and disease today

We all experience from time to time a variety of mild gut symptoms like burping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux and for most of us, these are transient symptoms that abide and we then feel normal again.

Its when these symptoms start to become more commonplace and severe that we start to notice other effects on our health. When our sleep or energy levels are affected or when our skin starts to look pale or become reddened itchy, or when our minds become foggy, these are clues we need to take further action to stop things from getting worse.

The gut is the processor and provider of all things our bodies require, vitamins minerals proteins, and fats. Sometimes, the way we eat and drink will influence how our guts function. Drinking too much coffee, alcohol for example irritates the stomach and affects its function, the stomach acidity is affected causing acid reflux and the function of the lower oesophageal sphincter is weakened. This ring of muscle shuts off stomach acids and their contents coming back up the esophagus, when it’s weak, we experience acid reflux, indigestion. The consequence of low stomach acid levels is that we poorly digest food and this means we don’t absorb the nutrients as we should and we can become malnourished.

Having low stomach acid has a knock-on effect of limiting the function of the liver and pancreas, which are crucial digestive organs for secreting enzymes, which are the final steps in breaking down food into its constituent parts, amino acids and fatty acids for example. So optimizing the first organ in digestive health, the stomach, plays a critical role in overall digestive function.

Eating ‘fast food’ or ‘street food’ carries the risk of the food becoming contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or parasites will contribute to an imbalance in the gut flora, this, in turn, will increase symptoms of bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Typically these symptoms are transient but in susceptible people these infections linger on, to create low-grade irritating long-term symptoms. This can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which disrupts our whole digestive capacity. At this stage, we start to see changes in our energy and our thinking.

Eating diets which are low-fat high carbs are also potentially problematic. When we have low (good) fat intake in our diets, the secretion of bile from our gallbladder is limited which means the bile which is stored there, which helps to break down fats, becomes stagnant, and doesn’t flow and this increases the risk of gallstones in the gallbladder. High carb diets can disrupt the gut microbiome balance of the gut. Certain bacteria and fungi thrive on populating when there’s high carbohydrate intake, and this increase causes gut dysbiosis, which in turn can increase the presence of Candida Albicans, a fungus, which can cause symptoms of tiredness, thrush, joint pain, sinus issues, and auto-immune reactions. So keep your candida levels in check by keeping your carbohydrate levels in check helps the gut.

Our guts are our connection to the outside world. So to protect ourselves from the outside world we need strong but balanced immune systems in our guts to protect ourselves from contaminated foods, and bad bacteria. 70% of our immune system is in our gut, so it’s vital to keep it well-maintained. Certain foods however can weaken our immunity and our gut integrity and No.1 on this list is Gluten from wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is a difficult-to-digest protein at the best of times, so when it’s partially digested it can create an immune response locally in the gut causing bloating, tiredness, and gas issues. Long-term consumption of gluten in reactive people can cause ‘leaky guts’ whereby the gut integrity has been compromised and this leads to a greater risk of auto-immune diseases, which affect the gut like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. These diseases have increased in recent decades and this highlights the way society is increasingly susceptible to gluten sensitivity. Gluten is pervasive, it’s in our fast foods, (biscuits, snacks) our sauces and we are oblivious sometimes of our exposure. Other food sensitivities can develop with soya, shellfish, and nuts, and this can be influenced by the frequency of eating a particular food. If for example, you have soya every day twice a day, then over time your body can build an intolerance or sensitivity to it. This is the body’s signal to tell us to eat a variety of foods and not just the same food all the time.

The goal here is to listen to your body, understand when symptoms are more than just transient irritations, and take control of your health by looking at your diet more closely and also the timing of when you eat and how often.

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