Several folks have spoken with me lately regarding digestion problems. We all have suffered at one time or another from the pains of improper digestion – heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea. However, many of the medications that we are given to correct a problem in another area of our body can cause an unpleasant reaction in the digestive system.
The most common problem that I am asked about is constipation. I feel that much of the cause of this digestive upset stems from improper diet. Secondary causes include the dehydrating effects of certain medications, such as pain medications, antidepressants, and others. The dilemma of constipation is that it sets up the body for illness as a result of the retained stool in the bowel. The body continues to try to absorb nutrients from the waste products. The process actually reintroduces toxins to the body. Much of this disturbance in digestion can be helped by taking supplements that contain high levels of digestive enzymes.
These enzymes are vital to the proper breakdown and absorption of foods. They are classified in three categories – amylases, lipases and proteolytic enzymes. Amylases assist in carbohydrate digestion, a process that begins with the saliva in your mouth. Lipases help the body dissolve and absorb fats. Proteolytic enzymes are those which aid the body in assimilation of proteins. As you can see, each group of enzymes plays a substantial role in achieving overall nutrition. A shortage of any one enzyme can lead to problems.
Many times, our fast-paced lifestyle helps generate the digestive dilemma. Eating too quickly, not chewing your food enough times (Mom was right about that), or a diet lacking in fresh foods can cause inadequate levels of enzymes to be ingested or produced by our body. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can go a long way toward correcting trouble with digestion. For example, pineapple and papaya contain bromelain and papain respectively, two key enzymes for protein absorption. Most foods contain the enzymes necessary to digest them. However, refining, processing and cooking foods at high temperatures destroys these vital substances. Therefore, it may be very helpful to use a supplement to aid in the digestive process.
A complete digestive aid needs to contain ingredients which will digest all types of food. To ensure that a supplement is complete, it should contain the following:
Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) – a pH balancing enzyme derived from beets used to digest meats and animal proteins.
Pepsin – the natural enzyme that breaks down proteins and whose function depends on the contents of HCL.
Bromelain and Papain – powerful enzymes found in pineapple and papaya that act to break down the proteins into amino acids.
Pancreatin – a collection of enzymes secreted by the pancreas into the part of the small intestine closest to the stomach. Pancreatic enzymes break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Lipase – aids in fat digestion, while complex carbohydrates are digested by a combination action of mylase and mycozyme.
Amylase and Protease – two potent digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas, that digest carbohydrates and protein.
Ox Bile – improves fat digestion and combats constipation through the stimulation of the bile flow and improves functioning of the gallbladder.
If you would like more information on any topic discussed in this article, you can contact me through my website address at www.JerryRyanPhD.com or email me at DoctorRyan@JerryRyanPhD.com with your questions.
Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.
All across America, harmful toxins including hair spray, lawn fertilizers, food preservatives, dry cleaning, and flea repellant are exposing us to more chemicals and toxins than ever before. They are present in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water that we drink. These products that we depend on daily expose us to literally tens of thousands of chemicals and contaminants each day, making the question clear, how do we detoxify? With the hundreds of detoxification products ranging from one simple supplement to complicated regimens, how do we choose the best product for us?
Detoxification, which is the elimination of poisons or toxins, includes a wide variety of treatments that aim at getting rid of the body’s toxins and improve health. Although we have a natural detoxification system in our body such as our liver, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and skin all work to eliminate the toxins we take in, the huge amount of contaminants and toxins in today’s environment presents too challenging of our job for our body to handle on its own. This results in a dangerous accumulation of toxins in our body. When toxins are found in the food we eat and the water that we drink, sometimes they can not be destroyed by the digestive enzymes, detoxified by the liver, or eliminated by the immune system, causing them to build up and affect every part of our body, slowing our metabolism, taking our energy, reducing our immunity, possibly leading to serious chronic illness.
Since most detoxification supplements only focus on the liver and colon, the only way to make sure that detoxification is truly successful is to cleanse the whole body, which demands detoxification of the blood and lymph also. If toxins are present in the blood and lymph, this means that every organ, tissue, and cell will be exposed to these toxins, even if you are currently undergoing detoxification. The blood and lymph fluids need detoxification too, for your body to perform its best.
Many detoxification programs are complicated and hard to follow, even with instructions. If you can’t understand what you need to do, the chances are that the detoxification program will not work very well. Be wary of which product you choose because some programs contain ingredients that are so ineffective and useless that they are a waste of money, while others contain products that are known to harm your health. Avoid programs that are based on senna and cascara, which are laxatives that often create bowel dependence, deplete vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and leave you feeling drained and fatigued. Enemas and colonics place a large demand on bowel health and, although helpful, should not be used at home, but rather under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.
When choosing a whole body cleansing program look for something that is based on safe, effective, all-natural herbs and nutrients. It should be a gradual and gentle program that works with your body’s own detoxification ability and normal patterns of elimination. The two-week initial phase should scrub your intestines naturally, stirring up and freeing stored toxins, bind the freed toxins with fiber for excretion and elimination, restore power to the liver, purify the blood, and cleanse the lymph.
Magnesium hydroxide, which is one of the most effective yet gentle laxatives available, draws water into the intestines, which causes its contents to soften and swell. It then scrubs, loosens, and cleanses the intestinal walls. Herbs such as Slippery Elm Bark, Marshmallow Root, and Peppermint Leaf extract, coat irritated mucous membranes, draw out toxins, and soothe the lining of the intestinal wall, help white blood cells seek and destroy disease-causing germs, increase the bow of bile, relax intestinal muscles, and reduce cramps and gas that may occur during detoxification.
After stirring up toxins and scrubbing them from intestinal walls, they must be grabbed onto with natural detoxification fibers. Upon entering the intestines, the fiber expands and soaks up the toxins and waste minerals, preparing them for elimination through the intestines. The safest fibers to use during detoxification are oat bran, pectin from citrus fruit, psyllium husk, and guar gum. However, even the best detox fibers can’t cleanse the colon if they can’t absorb and eliminate toxins. The most effective fibers are designed to be thoroughly dispersed throughout the entire colon.
With the use of milk thistle, the best known herb for the health of the liver, liver cells injured by toxins can be regenerated and toxins can be blocked from entering the liver in the first place. However, not all milk thistle products are the same. Only milk thistle that is standardized to contain 80% silymarin and formulated with phosphatidylcholine are capable of preventing liver damage in persons suffering from alcoholism or hepatitis and improving the way the liver works in people with cirrhosis of the liver. When milk thistle is combined with artichoke extract, licorice, and dandelion, the result is healthy bile production and a better flow of bile into the small intestine.
Because blood nourishes every organ as it flows through our body and transports oxygen from the lungs, nutrients from the small intestine, hormones from glands, and immune cells to fight infection and reduce inflammation. It also takes toxins to the liver and transports waste to the kidneys. However, if the liver is unable to detoxify as it should, the toxins will remain in the bloodstream, influencing every cell, tissue, and organ. Burdock, one of the most effective natural blood purifiers and cleansers, helps the kidneys filter impurities from the blood more quickly and helps to cleanse the respiratory, lymphatic, urinary, and circulatory systems also.
Since lymph is the fluid of health, the lymphatic system is the first to alert the body that there are toxins within it. One of the most effective herbs for lymph detoxification is red clover extract because it is able to keep harmful toxins out of the lymphatic system, while keeping the liver strong and stimulating bile production.
Although most people will have excellent results from the whole body cleansing program, there are additional nutritional supplements that help detoxification needs. Humifulvate, which reduces lead and cadmium levels in people who have been exposed to highly toxic metals, binds harmful metals in the intestinal tract, without draining the body of the healthy minerals it needs. Following a cleanse with a high potency pancreatic enzyme supplement will help to keep intestines parasite-free, while helping your body to produce digestive enzymes, immune secretions, and beneficial flora. Oregano, thyme, peppermint, and goldenseal are also important in keeping the body from growing bacteria, viruses, candida, and fungi after detoxification. An inulin and oligofructose supplement can help our immune system fight bacteria and viruses and improve the strength of our heart, while keeping our digestive tract healthy. Finally, a probiotic supplement can help to deliver helpful bacteria to the intestine, where the previous beneficial bacteria had been depleted due to retained intestinal toxins.
When deciding to use a detoxification program, one must know that it is safe for most people. However, pregnant or nursing women should not use any detoxification program, even if they are designed to be extremely gentle. It is also recommended that a person does not detox more than four times in the same year, unless it is recommended by a health care provider. While on a detoxification program, it is important to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. With a good detoxification program, the whole body will be cleansed gently and gradually, while working with your body’s own detoxification ability and patterns of elimination. All the above mentioned herbs and vitamins are available at your local vitamin store as well as internet vitamin stores.