Why your digestive system sucks and could
We’ve all heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’ but wouldn’t you agree with me and say ‘‘You are what you can absorb and digest’
Perhaps after you have read this you will.
Now before I go into the science and the reasons behind gut health, it’s function, and how it could help connect the missing link in achieving some awesome results. I don’t want to put all the blame on just the gut. There are other elements such as sleep, recovery, calorie intake, stress levels, training frequency, injuries that might help piece the puzzle together. But I shall cover those in future topics.
Now over the years being a coach, I would go through my client’s nutrition in the consultation process. After the initial process I would get the client to continue, to log their food intake by using a food diary. They would fill out what they had each day, trying to be as honest as they could be (some were more honest than others 😉). Then at the end of the week they would report back to me on a weekly basis, as part of my coaching service.
I would then watch them over time change in their physical appearance, either by them losing weight, show an increase in their energy levels, improvement of sleep, putting on muscle, or even putting on body fat. Simple right?
Wrong, unfortunately as time went on, a few clients started to suffer from symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, stomach upset, brain fog, chronic fatigue, lethargic, you name it. Now before I started to cut out certain foods from their diet, you do have to look at all areas first, (see above). I know they aren’t the only ones who suffer from these symptoms. So I thought I’d go a little deeper and find out why this was happening.
Now for the science part (please read this)
The gut is responsible for 70% of our immune system, pretty much everything that is ingested from the foods we eat, beverages we consume. Is absorbed, digested and passed through the digestive tract. The digestive tract extends over 25 – 30 feet and runs from the mouth to the anus. It helps breakdown the large protein, carbohydrate and fat molecules found in the food we eat so they can be absorbed into the blood stream.
When digestive symptoms appear, alarms bells do start to ring. This could be a sign of some digestive issues that the client is suffering from. Now you can undergo several tests, such as stool tests, blood tests, even have intolerance tests but quite often it is linked to disfunction in the gut. So let’s delve in more shall we..
DIGESTION SYSTEM 101
Now the first stage of digestion is when we eat, more importantly as soon as the food hits our mouth. Certain fluids break down the food which are secreted from our salivary glands, this is quite an important role. But it’s usually the second phase from when the food hits the stomach and the role of the stomach acids breaking the foods down that start to cause the problem.
That acid has quite an important role to play, specifically in breaking down the protein (which are the amino acids you consume), as well as the absorption of vital minerals. Those amino acids aren’t just necessary for your health, but for muscle building and fat loss.
Now you can see why I said earlier, ‘You are what you can absorb and digest’ 😉
Now, when we age we produce less stomach acid over time, but for some us it’s an imbalance.
But sometimes we can also suffer from bacterial overgrowth's in the small intestine such as hypochlorhydria, as well as, other issues like, candida, bloating after meals, food allergies. Now overgrowths within the small intestine have been shown to affect the digestion and absorption of various nutrients, especially B vitamins.
Your liver requires B vitamins to support detoxification and the production of essential energy. If you are trying to lose body fat, then helping your body detoxify toxins, which are stored within the fat cells will also ensure you have enough energy to exercise. You can address certain bacterial overgrowth, inflammation and other issues through supplementation which I will get onto shortly.
The next phase of the digestion process happens in the small intestine. The food gets broken down in a mixture called chime, that’s where pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver are released. They then breakdown protein, carbohydrates and fats, if you have a problem there. Your liver or pancreas won’t be able to release the necessary enzymes to be able to absorb or digest those foods.
The last stage, assuming that most of your nutrients from the foods have been absorbed by the intestine. It’s then transported into the liver, then processed throughout your body and into the blood system. Anything that is then left is then moved along from the digestive system and into the colon.
Now I know that is a lot to take in, but can you now understand the importance of knowing what lies underneath?
I wouldn’t advise anyone to making drastic approaches and start cutting foods out of their diet, as they do run the risk of you developing further intolerance when putting them back into your diet.
However, there is a controlled method called ‘The Elimination Diet’ where you control your diet for 6 weeks, but in the first 3 weeks of the phase you would only eat single ingredient-based foods.
Now the common culprits that often cause havoc are as followed:
But Joe get to the point, what is the solution?
To summarise the above we do need to at some stage, eliminate allergenic or intolerant foods. Include real nutrient dense foods, help rebuild the gut wall as well as add in the following:
Always look to improve your diet first, then add in supplementation to help improve it.
My top 5 choices are:
So, I hope that has given you a different perspective on how your gut has a big role to play in helping you achieve an awesome body. Please feel free to drop me an email if you have any further questions on your diet or training