Fix­ing the Leak

Natural Solutions - - Food Matters - BY ISAACC ELIAZ, MD, MS, LAC

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.

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