Our digestive tract is a long inner tube with many different regions of activity that should all work in concert to:
- Supply energy and nutrients
- Eliminate systemic waste and toxins
- Align hydration
- Optimise gastrointestinal microbiota and their metabolites, which in turn help to calibrate systems throughout the rest of our body including the immune nervous system
Your gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is, like your skin or lungs, a major interface organ between the environment and interior milieu. It is the site with the highest load of microorganisms (also referred to as “the microbiota”). This is especially true in your large intestine due to substantial amounts of undigested dietary and endogenous (e.g. mucus, enzymes) components amenable to microbial fermentation. Your gut epithelial cells are the first cells to be exposed to nutrients and the microbiota, with complementary functions between the small intestine aiming at digestion and nutrient absorption and the large intestine specialised in the fermentation of undigested materials. The gut epithelium is also the first line of GIT (and body) defense and protection. Its action is complementary to that of the associated mucosal immune system whose development and maintenance are induced by the microbiota. Thus, your gut epithelial cells - enterocytes and colonocytes - are polarised key players influenced by both the environment (e.g. food, pathogens, toxicants) and body metabolism and functions.
An important part of any health management programme should therefore be focused on the gastrointestinal tract and ensuring each of the primary areas of function are working cooperatively.
Numerous experimental and clinical data have shown that defects in gut barrier function may lead to chronic inflammatory diseases and sometimes cancers. These diseases affect not only the GIT but also other organs (e.g. liver, brain) and include diverse metabolic disturbances (ranging from glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes to metabolic syndrome and obesity), known risk factors for cardiovascular disorders. Importantly, more recent investigations have highlighted that many of these diseases may be modulated by the gut microbiota, though cause-and-effects relationships are often poorly understood. For instance, chronic metabolic diseases and obesity may be related to body entry of enteric microbial components (e.g. lipopolysaccharides (LPS)) triggering chronic low-grade, “metabolic” inflammation. This in turn favours diet energy extraction, fat synthesis and adipose tissue development, and shifts energy metabolism towards fat deposition and adipose tissue inflammation, leading to metabolic syndrome and obesity. The diet is a major lever of gut microbiota modulation and is now regarded as a serious approach for maintaining high microbiota diversity (or gene richness) and preserving health, as well as correcting dysbiosis (changes to the structure of complex commensal community in you) often observed in many chronic diseases. This is of utmost importance in the context of drastic reduction of food diversity over the last decades.
Looking back at some of the foundational opinion leaders of naturopathy, the homeopath Hering developed a ‘law’; a set of guiding principles to explain his clinical observations. Per Hering’s Law of Cure, for the body to efficiently detoxify and recover homeodynamic function, there should be “a reduction of toxic load from inside out.” Your gut is one of the main organs of elimination so optimising gastrointestinal function, whilst avoiding unnecessary suppression of required eliminations, is an important part of a naturopathic nutrition approach to health generation.
Optimising your diet to predominantly include natural whole foods, such as organic vegetables and gluten free grains like short grain brown rice, can support gastrointestinal function by providing a supply of vitamins, minerals, fibre (prebiotic); which our bacterial partners convert to bioactive metabolites and other nutrients, as well as promoting regular and easy bowel eliminations.
In clinical care the delivery of intersecting, supporting nutrients has been shown to assist in the progression towards health recovery and management. Using products in isolation provides beneficial changes, but the real long term success is delivered via threshold therapy – reflected as the delivery of small, safe quantities of viable bacteria and supporting nutrients and food concentrates that work in synergy to produce optimal function and outcomes.
Therefore, to support long term gastrointestinal health consider utilising synergistic combinations of our carefully selected food supplements:
- Mega Strength Pro-otic® – probiotic containing researched, live strains of Lactobacilli, Lactococcus and Bifido bacteria for the small and large colon. These species introduce commensal balance help resolve dysbiosis and contribute to metabolic health.
- Zym-otic® – broad-spectrum plant digestive enzyme including gluten and lactose digesting enzymes to assist in the digestion of fibre (prebiotics) and other foods. Sometimes our organisms, and therefore us require a bit of help in breaking down our foods, so that our partners can beneficially metabolise the ingredients.
- Golden Aloe® – whole leaf Aloe Vera juice with 24-48 times greater bioactivity compared to native aloe inner leaf preparations, to ensure regularity and immune tolerance. Aloe is well understood to aid numerous mechanisms in your body and many of these are based in the GIT.
- Colex® – gut supporting botanicals including garlic, turmeric, peppermint and papaya extract alongside Bifidobacteria and L-glutamine, to ensure a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and a healthy barrier, including mucins and brush border enzymes
- Superlec Plus – high potency phosphatidyl choline lecithin powder to support liver function and bile flow. Your bile carries away toxins, but also acts as a modulator of the mucosal immune system.
Interested in the area of GI health? Why not learn more by visiting our free resources below: