Sick To Your Stomach? Here’s 5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Gut
The digestive tract tends to be an illusive set of organs that no one really understands. How does it all work? Why does your stomach hurt when you eat? Why don’t you have regular bowel movements when you are clearly eating three meals per day? There are so many unanswered questions and it doesn’t help when pharmaceutical companies just recommend this medicine or that.
In order for us to truly understand why we are having digestive issues we need to understand how our digestive system works and why medicine is not always the answer. Here are five things you didn’t know about your gut that you might find helpful in truly addressing your issues.
1. When you swallow your food, it goes into your stomach as a solid. Your body can’t use food in a solid form so when you eat, your body has to go to work. It has to make enzymes and acids to break that food down into a liquid that can be absorbed through the small intestine. These enzymes continue to deplete with every decade of life, which is why patients start to see around 40 and 50 years old, digestive issues they never had before – heartburn, reflux, gas, bloating, etc. This is an enzyme issue and can be resolved by taking a digestive enzyme supplement with every meal.
2. Taking PPI medicines actually do more harm than good. PPI stands for Proton Pump Inhibitor, including medicines like Nexium, Prilosec, and Omeprazole, just to name a few. This is a huge issue for patients because about 60% of the patients going to the doctor have already been put on a PPI by their primary care physician, or they diagnosed themselves and started taking an over-the-counter PPI. These medicines are meant to be taken short term, not long term, and are linked to side effects such as muscle spasms and bone loss, not to mention heart disease and dementia. PPI’s stop all production of acid in the stomach. Without acid your food (especially proteins like meats) will not digest, causing you issues ranging from malnourishment to diarrhea and constipation.
3. Taking a constipation and/or diarrhea medicine every day is not doing you any favors. Many of these medicines have ingredients in them that basically tell your colon, “Don’t worry, colon, you don’t have to do any work because the medicine will do the work for you.” Your colon is a muscle, so you can train it to be strong and healthy and work right, or you can train it to be lazy and sick for the rest of its life. The more you take these medicines the more you’re training your colon how not to be a colon.
4. Your gallbladder is important and you shouldn’t take it out unless it’s absolutely necessary. These days one of the first organs to go when you start having digestive issues is the gallbladder. Many surgeons will tell patients, “It’s okay, you don’t need your gallbladder.” Your gallbladder plays a very crucial role in your digestive system, especially in digesting fatty foods. Before you get yours removed, consider all options. You might experience more digestive issues once it’s been removed.
5. Bacteria plays a crucial role in how you digest, assimilate and eliminate food. You have trillions of good and bad bugs in your gut, which get off balance very easily because of the food we eat, the antibiotics we take, the stress we’re under, etc. Many digestive issues are due to the imbalance of these different bacterias in our gut. Taking a super healthy probiotic every day creates an easy way to avoid this issue and may help you take away other digestive health prescription medications you may be using.
Your digestive system is more than just organs. Seventy percent of your body’s immune system is relying on this system to maintain your overall well-being. Good digestion comes from nutritious eating, healthy lifestyle choices and having the proper enzymes in the body to digest the food you eat. Improving your digestion is one of the most important steps you can make to improve your overall health.
Dr. Liz Cruz is a gastroenterologist, a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, an author, and (most importantly) a parent of four children. She is the creator of Everyday Enzymes ™, as well as a variety of other wellness products designed to promote all-natural, holistic wellness. For more information visit drlizcruz.com.