The Scoop on Poop – The Grand Finale to Digestion!

Do you happen to have a pet?  Have you ever noticed how right after feeding them, they ALWAYS have to head to the litter box or need to be taken out to “do their business?”   This is perfect example of how our digestive system is also supposed to work.  Nature intended our bodies to respond in this way!

It is both healthy and normal to have regular bowel movements after EVERY meal.  However, this is not what most of us actually experience living in today’s modern era.  Many of us consider ourselves exceptional if we even have a regular event every single day!

roll of toilet paper on a toilet, concept for constipation and bowel movement

This can all be traced back to process of digestion.  Truly, elimination is the grand finale to your body’s full cycle of digestion.  Once food and nutrients are absorbed from the small intestines, any remaining fibers, bile, water and nutrients move on down the GI tract to the large intestines.

The large intestines perform the final functions of digestion by recycling any leftover water, supporting probiotic proliferation (most of your probiotics are housed in the large intestines) and also capturing any lost nutrients that are still available to convert  to vitamins (specifically Vitamins K, B1, B2, B12 and butyric acid).  After those three tasks are performed by the large intestines, anything left over is expelled by the body as feces.

Something interesting to note is that most cells in the body are nourished through our blood circulation. However, the colon is different!  The colon is poorly vasculated.   Instead, it is nourished by a nutrient called butyrate.  Butyrate, a nutrient first discovered in BUTTER, is produced by the actual cells in the colon and this is what the colon uses for energy instead of nutrients from the blood. (Butter is good for you, folks!)

Also interesting to note is that most of your immune system, which is known as your microbiota, is housed in the large intestines.  Your microbiota is ultimately the composition of your body’s gut bacteria – both good and bad!  Beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, exist here, as well as pathogenic bacteria.  There is a continual war between your good bacteria and your bad bacteria.  Depending on what you are eating, you are helping to feed and strengthen one or the other based on each and every meal.

When digestion is working as it should, once food is ingested, it pushes everything through the entire process so that anything in your system from a previous meal gets pushed further on down the tract.  When this happens, as we see with most of our pets, the urge to “do your business” occurs right after consumption of a meal.  This is how nature intended it to be!

A reason why we don’t recognize this type of frequency of elimination as NORMAL is due to the fact that most of us have dysfunctional digestion!  Food doesn’t move fluidly through our digestive system as it should.  Instead, it just sits and gets stuck in the process.  Therefore, most of us experience CONSTIPATION more frequently than actual healthy elimination!

Constipation is largely due to poor hydrochloric acid production by the stomach.  When you don’t have enough stomach acid, the process of digestion doesn’t get stimulated properly.   This slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract.  Have you ever noticed how after drinking coffee, you tend to have to go and take care of your business?  That is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to your GI tract and actually starts to move food that was otherwise stagnant.

Another issue with low stomach acid, besides slow movement through the tract, is that food doesn’t actually get broken down.   When undigested food arrives to the large intestines, the intestines have to work in overdrive to break down whatever it can. This is unnatural.  The process is supposed to be easier with food already digested by the small intestines.  This can dramatically slow down the elimination process.

However, the problem of undigested food arriving to the large intestines is two-fold.  Not only does the process get backed up (no pun intended) but it also tends to bring parasites and pathogenic bacteria with it.  These parasites/pathogens should have been killed by hydrochloric acid in the stomach, but if there isn’t enough hydrochloric acid, this doesn’t happen.   This leads to a weakening of the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria.  You are increasing the bad guys!  Your probiotics take a hit and your immune system also becomes affected when this happens.

Also, when probiotic production is down in your large intestine, butyric acid production is down also because probiotics help manufacture butyric acid.  Ultimately, nourishment to your colon’s cells is significantly hindered.  The colon inevitably is weakened.  It leaves the colon subject to inflammation, diverticulitis (pockets that form that get packed with undigested food) and loss of tone.

If you have ever experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you truly know the discomfort that a weakened colon can inflict.  Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often times the precursor to disorders such as Diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Celiac Disease and Cancer.  These disorders CAN BE AVOIDED simply by having good digestion and good stomach acid.

A simple solution to dramatically help constipation, as well as MANY other digestive issues, is to increase your stomach acid production by taking 1-2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar prior to each meal.  Or, you can choose to take a hydrochloric acid supplement prior to each meal instead.  Our family personally takes Hydro-Zyme or Betaine Plus HP, prior to each meal.  By increasing your stomach acid, you will help keep your system flowing and running like a well-oiled machine!

Another major cause of CONSTIPATION is poor hydration.  Constipation is a mature sign that the body is DEHYDRATED.  A person experiencing constipation can be guaranteed that they are certainly dehydrated.  By simply increasing fluid intake constipation can be significantly alleviated.  The proper amount of fresh filtered water a person should consume in a day is based on body weight.  Take your body weight and divide it by 2.  That is the minimal amount of water that you should drink in a day!

If you have any diuretics such coffee, tea, pasteurized juices or sodas, you will need to increase your water intake to add 1 & ½ times the amount of whatever diuretic drink you had.  I personally enjoy a good 8 ounce cup of black coffee every single morning.  I am just over 100 lbs.   I minimally drink 55 ounces of water a day, PLUS 12 more ounces (8 x 1.5 = 12) to make up for my coffee because it dehydrates!  I guarantee that if you just focus on your water intake alone, you will feel the difference in the frequency of your elimination!

Another great way to help with constipation is to support your large intestine with good probiotic supplementation.  You can get probiotics in either pill formulation or through food sources.  In terms of pill formulations, I recommend Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotic, which can be purchased at www.mercola.com.   However, the very best way to get probiotics into your system is actually through FERMENTED foods.

I may have lost you here…many of you haven’t heard of fermentation because it is a process of preparing foods that somehow got lost by the way side when technology came along (such as the refrigerator) to help us preserve foods.  However, this ancient practice of preserving foods actually promotes the growth of good bacteria and yeasts on foods, otherwise known as probiotics.  YES, BACTERIA & YEAST CAN BE GOOD.  There are thousands of different strains of each – some are good and some are bad.  The trick is to encourage the growth of the good.

An example of a fermented food is yogurt.  If you look at any good container of yogurt it will reference the fact that it contains strains of live cultures.  These live cultures are bacteria – or otherwise known as probiotics.  In working with fermentation, we are controlling the environment to promote the growth of only the good bacteria.  We have learned these techniques from our ancient ancestors as this art has been practiced for thousands of years.   In general, fermentation involves submerging a food (such as carrots) under brine made of filtered water and salt.  The carrots are left for several days or even weeks to sit and FERMENT.  During this time, good bacteria and yeast are feeding off of the carrots.  These bacteria and yeast multiply and strengthen to produce a very potent super food for you to eat.  These foods actually taste great, too!  Most fermented veggies have a slightly sour and salty taste – much like what pickles taste like.

There are several types of fermented foods that you either purchase or make yourself, ranging from yogurts to fizzy soda like drinks that taste like champagne.  Check out my Nutrition Tab to learn more about great sources of probiotics.

Also, join my on-line webinar on August 10, to learn how get started by making your own delicious fermented condiments!  In the webinar you will learn how to make Fermented Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo and Salsa!  Condiments are an easy and delicious way to introduce yourself and your family to fermented foods.  The movement of fermentation used to be somewhat underground, however, it has come back in vogue and there are a lot of wonderful resources, as well as products available, to make it a very convenient process to embrace!

Blessings & health,

Jen

 

 

 

 

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