What is your gut?
Your gut is your gastrointestinal tract. Your gastrointestinal tract begins at the mouth, where food is ingested, and ends, at the anus, where food is expelled.
First stop, the mouth.
As you put food into your mouth, a signal kicks into your brain to release saliva. Saliva mixes with the food as mastication begins. This is the first step of digestion. Carbohydrates are broken down from the amylase enzymes in the saliva, turning carbohydrates into sugar.
The saliva also contains lipase enzymes to begin the process of fat breakdown and digestion.
Second stop, the esophagus.
Food moves down the esophagus (8 inches in length, coated in mucosa), also known as “the gullet”, passes through the lower esophageal sphincter, into the stomach.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is responsible for preventing stomach acids, and food particles from traveling back upwards toward the esophagus.
If this does happen, this can lead to gastroesophagael reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, esophagitis, esophagael ulcers, achalasia, esophagael cancer, etc.
Third stop, the stomach.
As much as many people think the stomach is a round shape, it really is not. The stomach is in the shape of a J.
The stomach contains stomach acids (HCl, KCl, NaCl), which help to break down proteins. Because of the highly acidic environment of the stomach lumen, this allows for the denaturing of the protein structures for breakdown. The ph of the stomach acids range between 1.5 to 3.5. The broken down food is temporarily held in the stomach until the gastrointestinal tract is ready to receive it. We are able to chew and swallow food faster than our intestinal tract is able and ready to absorb it.
Ever take Protein Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s)? Proton Pump Inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Kapidex, Zegarid, and many others, reduces the production of acid produced by the enzyme released by the stomach wall. Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors is a band-aid for any symptoms that may be occuring. Symptoms such as indigestion, heart burn, ulcers, gastroesophagael reflux disease, and many others can be solved by eating a healthier diet. Also, eating smaller portions, less processed foods, more of focus on a plant-based diet, and eating 2-3 hours before lying down will help resolve symptomatic issues.
The stomach is a very important organ, just like the rest. The wall of the stomach is made up of a few difference layers. The inner layers, special glands that release enzymes, hormones, acids, and other substances form the stomach acid. The outer layers are the muscle and other tissues that help to contract the stomach wall, creating gentle movement to allow the gastric acids to mix with the food.
Once the food is broken down in the stomach, the food is now known as chyme. Once the intestinal tract is ready for the chyme, the bottom stomach sphincter opens, and empties the chyme into the small intestine.
Digesting the food in the stomach, most importantly, breaks down food into smaller particles. Once it is broken down, then it is ready to be absorbed and/or pass through the intestinal tract. If the food is not broken down into small enough pieces, it is unable to be efficiently absorbed through the gut wall, to be later transported throughout the entire body.
Fourth Stop, the small intestine.
There are three parts to the small intestine. These include: duodenum, jejenum, and ileum.
Absorption in the small intestine.
Duodenum Absorbs: carbohydrates, proteins, calcium, magnesium, iron, chloride, sodium, and zinc.
Jejunum Absorbs: remaining starches, vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and folic acid.
Ileum Absorbs: amino acids, fat, cholesterol, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Fifth Stop, the large intestine.
There are three parts to the large intestine. These include: cecum, colon, and rectum.
Most nutrients have already been absorbed, and what is left is waste products.
Absorption in the large intestine.
Colon Absorption: remaining water, sodium, and potassium.
Fiber is not digestible through the gastrointestinal tract. Fiber adds bulk to your stool when it reaches the large intestine.
Leaky Gut Syndrome, Disease, Infection, and Weight Gain
Your gut contains over 100 trillion different microorganisms. But why you ask?!
Your gut is responsible for keeping you healthy, strong, vibrant, and infection and disease free. The gut works symbiotically with these healthy bacteria to help promote normal gastrointestinal function, protection from disease and infection, normal regulation of metabolism, and provides at least 75% of our immune system.
When inflammation occurs in the gut, the body is more susceptible to disease and infection. The immune system becomes under attack. This leads to depression, obesity, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, ADD, ADHD, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, dental disorders, migraines, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulosis/itis, metabolic syndrome, amongst many others.
Recent research has shown the connection between a healthy gut and the role it plays to help you lose weight, increase your metabolism, increase and boost mood, a better quality of life, mental clarity, and increased self confidence.
When the gut flora is off, dysbiosis occurs. This presents an easy attack for disease and infection. Blood sugar is thrown off, hormones become imbalanced, weight increases, health risks increase, and inflammation starts to settle in.
The gut flora is affected by the foods we eat and the stress we put on our bodies. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar, artifical sugars and sweeteners, food stabilizers, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, medications, self or work induced stress, and many others contribute to inflammation in the gut. If this continues, chronic inflammatory gut conditions and leaky gut syndrome start to become an issue.
Restoring Your Gut
Bringing symbiosis to your gut may not be easy, but it gets easier. Always seek the guidance of a health care professional for best care. It takes patience, knowledge, dedication, and self love to help heal your body. Keep these tips in mind to help heal your gut.
Sugar, artifical sugars and sweeteners, food dyes, stabilizers, thickeners, chemicals, etc.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) i.e. Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix
Certain cooking oils i.e. canola and vegetable oils
Fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables
Foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics
Nuts and seeds (sprouted nuts and seeds are a great choice)
A high-quality probiotic. Ask your health care professional for best choices.