Gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea. These are all symptoms of poor digestion. Most people experience some form of digestive upset at some point in their life, but a large majority experience these things on a daily basis. In fact, for some these symptoms occur so regularly that it has become their state of feeling “normal”. What they don’t realize is that by allowing the digestive system to continue malfunctioning, they are setting themselves up for further health problems down the road. They may even be experiencing some symptoms of advanced digestive problems and are unaware of the connection. For example, a poorly functioning digestive system can result in these seemingly unrelated symptoms:
Skin problems including jock itch, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne
Allergies, both food and seasonal
Frequent yeast infections and/or urinary tract infections
Ironically, these symptoms are generally treated individually and the state of the digestive system is almost always overlooked (with of course the exception of diagnosed digestive diseases). When treated separately the symptoms may disappear for some time but when the root cause is not addressed they will reoccur or other symptoms may arise.
So how is the digestive system capable of affecting other areas of the body besides the obvious symptoms of indigestion and heartburn?
First of all, consider the fact that a large percentage of the immune system lies in your digestive tract. When our proper digestion mechanisms fail, our immune system is repeatedly provoked in order to “pick up the slack” and break down large food molecules. This is where food sensitivities begin to develop which result in their own wide array of symptoms including brain fog, lethargy, weight gain, headaches and rashes. Additionally, our intestinal lining gets weakened and can allow foreign protein molecules into the blood stream which then puts the body into a hyper-reactive state (cue more allergies).
Secondly, the digestive system is home to trillions of delicately balanced gut microbiota (also referred to as “gut flora” and “gut bacteria”) that are vital to many digestive functions including stool formation, synthesizing vitamins and even contributing to healthy immunity. Thanks to the recent influx in marketing of probiotics, more and more people are becoming familiar with the importance of good gut bacteria. There are many, many ways for our good gut flora to become imbalanced but for the sake of not turning this into a novel, let’s discuss the side effects. When our gut flora is in a state of imbalance (often referred to as Gut Dysbiosis), certain dysbiotic (“unfriendly”) bacteria and yeast organisms can take hold and overgrow in the digestive tract, causing a host of problems including constipation and/or diarrhea, abdominal distension, and cramping. Candida Albicans is one yeast organism that can proliferate in the digestive tract and can be the culprit behind chronic fatigue, joint pain, oral thrush, yeast infections, jock itch, gas and bloating, sinusitis, irritability and sugar cravings. Hydrogen and methane producing bacteria (gas bugs, literally) can take hold in the small intestine and affect our ability to absorb nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies (particularly B12). In fact, medical doctors are finding that small intestinal bacteria overgrowth is the culprit behind most Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnoses.
Lastly, the digestive system is home to one of the body’s most important organs, the liver. The liver is responsible for so many essential functions of the body relating to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients. Certain food choices and lifestyle habits can cause the liver to become sluggish which not only hampers digestion but effects hormone
detoxification. Slow hormone detoxification can cause or aggravate PMS and other hormone imbalances including PCOS and Estrogen Dominance.
If any of these symptoms mentioned sound all too familiar with you, it is important to address them before they worsen. Stay tuned for the March newsletter where I’ll be sharing what you can do (and eat!) to improve digestion.
Jessica Mosiuk, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Jessica was inspired to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist after her own experiences with chronic digestive issues. After years of medical visits and inconclusive tests, she finally discovered the root cause: her diet. From there, she delved into the world of holistic nutrition and found her passion in helping others thrive through food.
Questions? She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Mosiuk, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
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