We’ve all heard the buzz surrounding gut health, digestion is key and of course how important digestive enzymes are. As much as we are what we eat, we are also what we absorb and also what we digest. But what if we aren’t digesting? Easy! We need to simply reset our digestive function. How do we do this? We de-congest the bile and pancreatic ducts.
For this you will need some very important tools, but first let me explain a little bit about how our digestion works.
We process 95% of our serotonin in our intestinal tract, this is directly affected by stress, since we handle stress in the gut. We don’t digest food in a stressed state and we don’t produce adequate serotonin in a stressed state either. This means mood shifts, depression and for some bouts of anxiety.
When our gut is stressed (because we are stressed), it becomes irritated, inflamed, it dries out, we become constipated and/or we get loose stool. This means our gut is in “turmoil” and when our gut is in this state it stops the toxins which are meant to be pulled off the gut wall into the lymphatic system (which is located o the other side of the gut). Since over 80% of our immune system resides in our gut this is cause for concern. Eventually this breaks down, it happens slowly and over time which is why for most of us we don’t notice it is even happening until it has manifested into something serious. When this breakdown happens, our bodies default those toxins back into our liver. Your liver then says “hey wait a minute – I’m already overworked, I can’t do your job too!” You see it would be doing it’s own job and the job of your lymphatic system. Eventually your liver gets fed up and sends some of those toxins back into the blood stream, where they circulate and are stored in our fat cells crating higher levels of toxicity.
The BILE, found in your liver then becomes thick and congested making it difficult for the bile ducts to allow the bile to flow freely as it should. Your bile duct connects to the pancreatic duct by what is known as the “common bile duct”.
Now we head over to the pancreas, where your enzymes are produced on one side and your bile is produced on the other (this is what helps beak down fats). These two sides join up and squirt both bile and enzymes into your small intestines BUT if the bile has gotten thick due to the gut being irritated if can’t perform this function effectively. The bile has become thick and viscous which means it isn’t flowing and that mens neither are your enzymes.
If you aren’t digesting well because of this you will find yourself bloated, you get gas, you are unable to eat foods that you were once fine with and so on. We become intolerant to food that may not actually be an issue at all as much as the lack of digestive function is the true issue. Yes in some cases there are genuine sensitivities, the food we eat is not what it once was. Either way you will need to remove those foods from your diet until the issue is addressed. But in solving the underlying issue – digestion, you may be able to reintroduce many of your favourite foods like wheat and dairy. Now I said may… and in smaller doses. This doesn’t mean gauging on a french baguette every night.
Remember, how well we digest is also how well we detoxify. It is all part of how we function, so if one is off it’s all going to be affected.
Step one is to consume specific enzymes as part of a healing protocol, not a long term maintenance plan.
Beets: These are excellent bile removers
Cinnamon: According to ayurveda this spice is known for its decongesting properties. It helps to clear out the bile ducts and as a bonus helps balance blood sugar (which is also another function of the pancreas)
Leafy greens: 2/3 of your plate should be leafy greens. Not juicing but actually chewing is the trick. The cellulose found in greens grabs onto the bile in your gut and takes it, along with toxic chemicals and cholesterol, out of your system and into the toilet where they belong. Greens naturally detox but you need to actually chew them to get the full benefit of the functional side of this food.
Another neat little trick is olive oil and lemon juice. It needs to be a pure source, high polyphenol count olive oil. You want to add 1-2 tbsp and 1-2 tap of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Mix and drink either first thing in the morning or last thing before bed. This causes your gallbladder to contract and get that bile flowing better. Opening the ducts and getting the bile to be less viscous.
The last trick is water. You want to consume this 15-20 min PRIOR to a meal, never during or it will wash away those much needed enzymes. This hydrates the stomach lining. Underneath the stomach is a layer of 80% water. This action of drinking water tells your stomach that it has extra buffers and to produce more stomach acid. More acid means better digestion. The more acid that you produce means more bile and therefore more enzymes need to be produced. Their job is to neutralize the acid when it hits the small intestines. Voila!
Remember to take a few deep breathes prior to a meal, you want to be in a state of rest and digest. Take time after your meal to relax and allow the digestion process to do it’s job efficiently. Don’t forget all our systems work together, this means detoxing your liver will help. Much like spring cleaning this is something I like to do seasonally but that is a whole other post.
As a side cautionary note, for those who have blood sugar issues, I recommend avoiding enzymes containing amalases, especially since they are the most common and cheapest ones out there. Amalses are produced in the pancreas and are secreted into the small intestine to help break down dietary starches and sugar. Taking extra of this enzyme speeds up the rate that our body breaks down carbs, which can lead to excess and rapidly absorbing glucose into the blood stream. Instead go for a few more of those healthy tips I gave above or look for a better enzyme, one which contains a proteolitic enzyme such as protease. Watch for my upcoming article on why I choose this enzyme over al others.