At some point, almost everyone has experienced gastrointestinal discomfort. Many times this is related to poor food choices, eating too fast or overeating. Whether it manifests as acid reflux, gas and bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, our gastrointestinal system is trying to send us a message. If we ignore these symptoms or suppress them with medications, we will likely suffer from more serious illness down the road.
The Intestinal Epithelium
The epithelium is comprised of a single layer of cells that come into direct contact with your food. This layer of cells is held together in tight junctions that prevent leakage of molecules between the cells. This epithelial layer replaces itself every five to seven days and uses glutamine as its primary energy source. A breakdown of these cells results in Leaky Gut Syndrome which left uncorrected over time can lead to the development of food allergies and autoimmune disease, so keeping these cells of the intestines healthy is critical to good overall health.
The Muscle Layer
The intestines are made up of a muscular layer, and like any other muscle group, it will function at its best when it is strong. The lining of the intestines is responsible for the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to the key role of keeping out the bad bacteria, viruses and many toxins that flow through the intestinal tract. A strong muscular layer will allow you to more easily move waste through the intestines and have normal, regular bowel movements. If the muscles are weak, you may find more sluggish, slow movement of material through the intestines and a slow transit time. Consistently consuming low-nutrient and unhealthy foods will weaken the muscle layer, which is why lifestyle and diet choices are so important.
Digestion and Absorption
If you cannot digest and absorb your food, your cells will not get the nourishment they need to function properly. Many health issues begin because people are not fully digesting and/or absorbing their food. Here are six main reasons this can occur:
1) Poor food choices
2) Poor chewing and/or rushed eating
3) Lack of dietary fiber
4) Hydrochloric acid insufficiency
5) Enzyme insufficiency
6) Bile salt insufficiency
Diet and Supplementation
A nutrient dense diet is paramount to keeping the intestines strong and healthy. Often times, however, it is difficult to get all of the essential vitamins and nutrients needed, even with a healthy diet. This is where supplementation comes in. Supplements are a great tool to get that little bit of extra help you need to keep your body functioning at peak levels. You can read more on supplementation and how it affects your health here