What causes digestive problems?
Inflammation, colitis, constipation, gastritis, reflux, infections and celiac disease are all commonly known digestive problems. Excess fat around important organs – such as the large and small intestines and the pancreas – as well as food allergies and even cancer are also problems that can be caused by digestive issues. There are typically several factors. These include:
Chronic stress – never reconciling stressful events leading to an accumulation of anxiety over small and/or large episodes
Bad nutrition – not eating a proportioned amount of nutrients the body requires. This also includes eating infrequently (we should be at least 5 meals per day) and eating late dinners (we shouldn’t eat any later than 7 pm in most instances).
Lack of water – if we drink less than 8 glasses per day we’re setting up our bodies for chronic dehydration and an inability to digest food properly. Additionally, chronic dehydration also leads to kidney damage.
Overuse of prescriptions – this includes antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs.
Use of other drugs – alcohol consumption, smoking and other tobacco use and recreational drugs, whether legal or illegal, all disrupt digestive processes.
Chemical exposure – this can be an overexposure to cleaning detergents as well as pesticide, food additives and food colorants.
Lack of sleep – the body requires rest. For adults that means 7 – 8 hours per night. Children should sleep 9 – 10. There is no supplement that can replace a good night’s rest. A major portion of the reparation and healing process of the body takes place while we sleep, especially during the final hour or two.
Any combination of these factors affects and weakens a good metabolism. Over time other illnesses develop. Let’s walk through the damage that occurs to the digestive system. What is commonly known as the GI tract is composed of a large tube that starts in the mouth and continues into the esophagus. It extends in size down into the stomach. Its width is reduced at the small intestines and broadens at the large intestines. Once it reaches the rectum, it reduces in width at the end of the anus. The entire GI tract is like a super highway that is considered to be both an internal and external part of the body. This long pipe has tissues that have specific functions in every section. Any damage in these tissues affect digestion, and as a consequence the metabolism as well. Unhealthy or damaged cells in the GI tract aren’t able to contribute their share of responsibilities. On top of that these unhealthy cells create toxins that affect neighboring cells and contaminate the nutrients that come in contact with them as they pass through.
Like any other damaged area in the body, part of the problem deals with the microenvironment surrounding the tissues due to chemical activities coming from sick cells. Healthy cells in the area try to stabilize damage, affecting the production of enzymes by all the digestive cells involved. Certain hormones that intestinal cells produce can also be compromised, affecting digestive and metabolic function. Additionally, the good bacteria that live inside of the intestinal tract die due to the chemical changes that the unhealthy cells produce. There are around 800 different types of bacteria located in very specific areas of the intestines. The weight of all these bacteria combined is equivalent to 2 lbs– a massive amount considering their microscopic size. Some of these bacteria feed on the carbohydrates we consume, creating chemicals that help digestion. Other bacteria reduce toxic waste, breaking down their components into less harmful elements as it moves out of our body. The microbial equilibrium of these bacteria are critical for our health as these helpers also contribute to containing harmful bacteria from migrating internally, assisting the immune system in fighting infection and disease. Imbalance of bacteria also makes fluid absorption and secretion dysfunctional.
The outer layers of the GI tract are exposed and in constant contact with food, bacteria and toxins. The cells that make up this portion of the tract are highly specialized and protect the internal part of our body. As we can see, a damaged digestive system not only weakens our ability to absorb and digest nutrients. It also affects the immune system, metabolism, water transfer, waste removal and our ability to create important hormones.
As we continue to explore this digestive pipeline, we can see hundreds of billions of nerves connected through corridors of tissues. Each of these nerves sends and receives messages to and from the brain as well as down to the intestinal area. It is both amazing and fascinating to see the connections and wiring that play such an important role in intestinal activity. Any imbalance of cerebral activity affects the function of tissues in the GI tract. It’s been documented through scientific and clinical research that chronic stress disrupts the brain’s ability to function in specific regions that produce neurotransmitters. Continuous changes in brain activity due to stress can damage tissue. While it is true that the cells can and will initiate reparation, consistent and prolonged levels of stress continue to damage tissues at a rate that the cells are not able to repair as quickly as damage occurs. Damage areas will develop chronic inflammation as well as an inability to absorb nutrients or produce enzymes. This type of micro environment can also create damage that allows acids in the stomach to push up through the esophagus and create serious problems.
There’s also a connection between the intestines and skin health. Due to the fact that the skin plays a role in the body’s ability to detoxify, what you eat can be manifested through your skin. For example, if we consume foods with high chemical content (e.g. canned foods, etc) or participate in a weekend of drinking alcohol, the intestines will have difficulty removing those chemicals. As a consequence bags under the eyes are common; the sudden appearance of dark spots also occurs. The digestive track literally feeds your skin and hair. Also keep in mind that the skin will absorb some of the cleaning chemicals (or any other synthetic chemical) that will end up finding its way to the intestines affecting them as well.
As described these chronic problems have a root cause. They develop over the days, weeks, months and years depending on our lifestyle. They never happen suddenly and out of nowhere. Searching for a magical pill, focusing on alleviating symptoms or trying to mitigate chemical changes on the areas where manifestations have occurred will never bring back health. Restoring one’s health can only occur by going to the root cause and letting the body remove the toxins in the system; and by having the cells initiate apoptosis – a process that occurs when a cell recognizes it is unhealthy and kills itself in order to allow room for a health new cell to take its place. This allows regeneration to take place, and new healthy cells can fulfill the responsibilities that weak, sick cells cannot.
Sick cells and toxicity in the body creates additional problems within the intestines as they become permeable. This creates a serious problem because the function of the digestive tract is to ensure nutrient absorption so that those nutrients can be sent to the 60 trillion cells in our body that need to be fed. The intestines also act as a barrier against toxins, bacteria and chemicals from entering the blood stream. The tissues in the GI tract have the tiniest of pores – allowing nutrients to pass through and keeping other things out. As damage occurs, these pores increase in size. This allows toxins, bacteria, chemicals and even undigested food to flow through and trespass into areas that they shouldn’t be in. The body recognizes this damage and the arteries stimulate the immune system to respond. Because the immune system responds to the area of concern immune cells rush to the intestines and begin attacking intestinal tissues. This creates food allergies, inflammation, and celiac disease. Chronic inflammation also ensues as the immune system continues to attack the intestines.
Most of us understand that an important function of the intestines is to remove waste. Byproducts of digestion move through the intestines. As they pass through the colon, waste begins to solidify until it arrives at the sigmoid and begins to excrete out of our body. When both chronic stress and damage in the colon and sigmoid are present moving waste becomes difficult, leading to constipation. As this happens obstruction occurs in the intestines and feces stays for longer than it should in this section of the intestines. This entire process slows down bowel movements. In these situations factors that can cause constipation include diet, medications, hormonal problems or lack of proper signaling/messaging from the nerves in these areas. Whatever the reason, constipation problems allow chemicals and toxins from waste to creep back into the blood stream. Constipation creates pressure to veins in the affected areas, leading to inflammation. As a result hemorrhoids disease can occur. Ideally we should experience 3 bowel movements per day.
With digestive problems it’s important to understand that the body can reverse conditions and heal itself from damage. Common culprits that cause digestive problems include lack of sufficient water intake, the absence of essential trace minerals and a healthy diet. These are essential, not just for a healthy digestive system, but for a healthy overall body – including cerebral/mental health. Water and essential minerals in particular are tools the body uses to remove waste, absorb nutrients and improve digestion. The polarization of water along with the electrical charges essential trace minerals carry makes it possible for the cell to configure its structure and allows for lipids and carbohydrates to metabolize. Additionally, the genetic information required for homeostasis requires water and minerals.
This wonderful part of our body is indispensable in keeping us healthy and to ensure that our entire body, from our bones to our nervous system, receives the proper nutrition they need to work correctly. Any symptom – colitis, constipation, weight issues, diabetes, loss of appetite, obsessive eating patterns, reflux, intestinal problems, etc – does not appear out of the blue. They happen slowly over long periods of time. The body however can heal itself as long as an environment is created where it has the tools to do so. Phytotherapi has designed a program with specific protocols to help people view digestive problems through a 360 degree view. This includes improving nutrition, controlling stress and providing tools that supports the body in its natural healing process it undergoes to repair tissue and cells.