Fixing the Leak
he stomach has ways of telling us when we’ve made a mistake. If we eat something that doesn’t agree with us, we might get symptoms like bloating, nausea, discomfort, or pain. That’s usually when we reach for one of the many remedies that can alleviate the situation, from over-the-counter antacids to home remedies such as peppermint tea. In a short time, we get relief.
But sometimes, digestive discomfort doesn’t ease up. In fact, more and more people today are suffering from chronic, long-term digestive problems that force them to endure ongoing pain, discomfort, irregular bowel movements, and other difficulties. Unlike occasional indigestion, these chronic digestive troubles appear to defy conventional treatments.
However, all is not lost. Today, there are a number of safe and effective integrative therapies available that can help repair and rebuild the digestive system. From time-honored botanicals and targeted nutrients to specialized enzymes and probiotics, these and other adjuncts help improve not only digestive function, but also overall health and vitality. Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying, “Death begins in the colon.” In integrative medicine, we often say instead, “Health begins in the colon.” This sentiment reflects age-old principles held by traditional medical systems from around the world, which position digestive health as the key to longevity and vitality. A large and fast-growing body of published data has substantiated this critical link, demonstrating the direct relationships between digestion and cognitive health, immune response, hormone balance, and more. So when we experience persistent gut symptoms, it’s critical we take action.
One of the first steps toward repairing digestive health is to look at what it is we’re trying to digest; in many cases, digestive difficulties and other ongoing health issues are a direct result of inflammatory reactions to common trigger foods such as gluten, corn, eggs, or dairy. These inflammatory responses, termed “food sensitivities,” may not cause full-blown allergic reactions, but they nevertheless trigger fiery flare-ups that damage the digestive wall over time, which leads to leaky gut syndrome.