Good For Your Your Gut

gut nutrition Dec 14, 2021
Good For Your Your Gut

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Acid reflux, IBS, and chronic constipation. We have pills for all of these things. Yet, are our common solutions to such problems fixing the underlying problem or just putting our fingers in the dike.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are dying from septic shock, you need antibiotics. If you are having a heart attack, you need a cardiac cath, however, for over 80% of medical care in America, the chronicity equates to lifestyle.



Approach Your Gut with Functional Medicine Also

As a therapeutic endoscopist, gastroenterologist, and functional medicine doctor, I keep my mind anchored in both camps. I see people jaundice from an obstructing pancreatic cancer, biopsy that cancer and improve the blockage in their bile ducts with modern Western technology.

However, I also see those of you that poop once every week. People that are kept up all night long because of heartburn. Individuals that are just overweight and looking to feel and look healthier.

So, for those of you looking for a healthy life, look no further than the gut.

In traditional medicine, we take a heart-centric approach, because let’s face it. No pumping heart, no blood to the rest of you, no life. Yet, I would argue, why did that heart blockage occur?

Plaques in the artery. How did the plaques get there? Poor diet. Where did your donuts go? In your mouth where they were digested in your GI tract, filleted, packaged, and sent to the arteries to block them. The gut suddenly seems more important, huh?



The Main Components to Digestion

The process of digestion is a very complicated, intricate process composed of the following basic processes:

  1. Mechanical breakdown, like chewing, stomach-churning
  2. Enzymatic breakdown via enzymes like pancreatic lipase for fats, salivary amylase for carbs, or proteases for protein
  3. Coatings such as mucous in the stomach, bile in the small intestine
  4. Interactions with the microbiome

So, let’s explore how our traditional lifestyle can impede these processes

Mechanical breakdown, breakdown

As a doctor in training, it was my job to learn procedures, but also to perform all needed paperwork, before and after the procedure (lots!), explain the procedure in an ethical manner, and describe the results of the test to the patient after the test, then repeat for the next procedure in a given time.

Most doctors in training are perfectly able to perform these tasks in a timely manner, however, all of these rising demands, do not leave much margin for error or time for lunch.

As a result, I would wolf down my lunch in minutes (and my training regimens require me to eat a lot) so I did not get yelled at or miss the next case. This phenomenon occurs all the time in America, which is why places like fast food chains do so well.


When You Eat Too Fast you Are Not Good to Your Gut

People are busy, however not properly breaking your foods down does several things to interfere with the way nature intended you to gain nutrition.

In a rushed state, your body uses the same neurologic system that you use when running away from a tiger. This is termed the sympathetic nervous system. In order to run away from your tiger, your body does several things.

  1. Increase in stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine
  2. Changes in your blood flow, including moving blood away from the gut, to the limbs


Cortisol Effect on the Gut

Excess cortisol tells your brain to gather easily digestible foods for energy like sugar.



It also will make you retain your energy stores (fat), preventing fat breakdown. You also hold onto water via sodium or salt retention.

Not only that but each of these hormones makes your gut move and shake, leading to slower movements, which can make you feel bloated, full, gassy, and blocked up.

Hormones Cause Change in Blood Flow

The hormonal impact also causes the aforementioned blood flow changes, which limit your ability to take the food you just ate, digest and filter it, and get it into the bloodstream for distribution. Again, this leaving you feeling terrible.

Not only that, but not properly chewing your food will make your digestive system (already starved for blood) work overtime to accomplish this food breakdown and absorption. Therefore, that whole French fry you didn’t chew will remain studded with compounds called PAMPs, LPS, and AGEs. These products will try to wiggle into your bloodstream with an easier route (like a line cutter).



The Tight Junctions Your Good to Your Gut Barrier

The easier root is usually blocked in your gut by bridges between your small bowel cells called the tight junctions made of molecules such as the zonula occludens (ZO). This gateway helps to keep things out of your bloodstream that belongs only inside of your gut, such as French fries and bacteria.

Improper breakdown of food will bust this gate wide open and allow your usually helpful gut bacteria to make their way past the tight junctions causing a condition called leaky gut.

Next, after making its’ way past the gate, your immune system goes on high alert. Since you are not made of bacteria or French fries, your body places a label on these molecules to mark them as foreign for the defenders of your health, the immune system. Your immune system then goes into attack mode

Your Gut in Attack Mode

By attack mode, I mean the PAMPs, AGEs, and LPs bind to something called toll-like receptor (TLR), which through a series of reactions create a molecule called NF-kappa B. NF-kappa B binds to your DNA making inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL) 1, 10 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).

These molecules destroy your foreign invaders, but also do collateral damage to your own body in the interim, leading to the following.
1. Fatigue
2. Brian fog
3. Joint pain
4. Weight gain

So how do we eat mindfully?

1. Prepare
2. Put away (electronics)
3. Sit down
4. Connect
5. Listen to your body

The practice of food preparation is an ancient one and is a basis for community. Our ancestors would gather around fires, discuss life while their stew was simmering. Allowing time to prepare the meal, places your body from the sympathetic system ready to run from a lion to a rest and digest state that prepares your body to break your food down.

The Brain-Gut Connection

In fact, the sheer act of seeing and smelling food, increases gastric acid, pancreatic enzymes, and movement of the gut. Make the meal the center, and physically sit down with nothing more than a great conversation and your food in front of you.



You can further action your digestive engine by connecting to your food. Mom was right when she told you to chew your food thirty times. Sit, think, smell, savor the food, which will reduce your stress state, allow you to enjoy that meal more, and extract more nutrients from your food.

Be Good to Your Gut by Listening

Listen to when your body is full. If you keep shoveling food into a full stomach, your body won’t have time to tell you it is stuffed. As above, your body will work into overdrive as a means to break down that huge load of calories.

In conclusion, listen to mom, eat mindfully avoid the stress response, maximize your digestive potential and limit the possibility of damage to your gut.

Summary of Good for Your Gut

Mindful eating is integral to limiting exposure to damaging compounds present in the standard American diet. Not only does the process of mastication (chewing), reduce this exposure, but also, eating more slowly limits the negative impact that stress can have on the microbiome and vice versa.


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