Why Having a Healthy Gut = Weight Loss
Losing weight can be a tricky and complicated process for many people because it usually means one or more of the bodies biological systems and metabolism is not functioning properly. The gut is one of the first places I start with my patient who want to lose weight. If your gut is not healthy and functioning properly than you won’t be able to benefit from even the most nutritious food or diet and your body will be stressed trying to juggle all the problems that come from an unhealthy gut.
The gut is teaming with upwards of 1000 trillion times more micro organisms than all the cells in the body! This host plays a very important role in our immune system, how are metabolism functions and many other aspects of our health that are just starting to be unraveled in modern research. This is one reason why waving a healthy stomach and GI tract is very important for losing weight effectively and for overall health. So how do you know if you have a problem with your digestion, assimilation and absorption of your diet?
Do you have these symptoms?
#1 Are you taking antacid medication? They are called PPI’s and some common ones are Prilosec, Nexium, Zoton. (If you are than most likely you are not able to get all the nutrient you need from your food.)
#2 Do you have heart burn, acid regurgitation, sour taste, burning in your chest, soar throat?
#3 Do you become tired lethargic after eating meals or do you experience poor digestion or a low appetite?
So why do antacid drugs indicate a problematic digestion? Very simply antacid drugs inhibit your bodies ability to breakdown and absorb food. There are several studies that show these antacid medicines are over prescribed and that they are not intended for long term use. The tricky part for people is heart burn is one of the most common reason people take these medications and heat burn is very common. I commonly see it in my clinic. More than 60 million American adults experience heartburn and GERD at least once a month, and about 25 millon adults suffer daily from heartburn. It’s not very much fun. In fact according to the IMS health organization the antacid drug class (PPI’s) had 9.5 billion in sales in 2012 and 6 billion of that was Nexium (“the purple pill”). They are very effective at stopping the symptoms but at a huge cost to your health and waist line.
How do they work?
They inhibit the cells in the stomach from producing acid or HCL. The stomachs main job is to start the digestive cascade by breaking down food so it can be absorbed in the intestines. The stomach produces HCl from cells called parietal cells. The PH can go as low as 1 which is important because it keeps bacteria from growing where it shouldn’t. That low of a PH can also dissolve metal! Food travels further in to the gut specifically the small intestine where more enzymes are produced and further digest the food. The following enzymes work together to break the food down so it can be absorbed into the intestines.
You can eat all the good, nutrient dense foods rich in vitamins and minerals but if you can’t absorb them than your are not going to get the benefit. These digestive enzymes need minerals and vitamins to work. Do you see a problem now with not have a healthy gut? Let me give you an example. Vitamin B12 is needed for clarity of mind, cardiovascular health, energy production in cells and digestion of fats and carbohydrates. Deficiencies are associated with and can lead to:
- neurological diseases
- brain fog and poor cognitive functioning
- stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Impaired immune function (This particular study looks at how a the absence of a particular flora in the gut stimulates an immune response in mice against an infection.)
If your struggling with some of the above illnesses how much success are you going to have losing weight? Let me give you another example. In Why stomach acid is good for you by lenard Lane and Jonathan Wright sight a few studies that correlate to low stomach acid production and anemia.
In one report, deficient stomach acid, described as either achlorhydria (complete absence of stomach acid) or hypochlorhydria (mild to severe loss of stomach acid), was found in eleven of thirteen children with anemia. In three of the six children with achlorhydria, and five of the seven with hypochlorhydria, the cause of the anemia was determined to be deficient iron absorption.2 In another study reported thirty years later, thirty-five of forty-four people (80 percent) with chronic iron-deficiency anemia were found to have below normal acid secretion.3 Iron-deficiency anemia is a well-known consequence of surgical procedures that remove the regions of the stomach where acid is produced (fundus and body).4
In another study from the same book volunteers were given meals of hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes containing a known amount of iron so the researchers could measure the absorption rate of the body. The test subjects were than given an antacid called Tagamet. The absorption rate showed a 28 percent decrease in iron with a normal dose of Tagamet. With a larger dose iron absorption decreased to 42 and 65 percent in the test subjects. These are just a few examples of what happens when acid levels in the stomach are not at health normal ranges. If this applies to two different essential nutrients for health could it apply to others?
I am confident saying that I believe that nature and evolution didn’t make a mistake by having the stomach secret to much HCL. There must be some other reason for the increase in GERD symptoms.
Correcting your Digestion and Eliminating GERD all natural
Norm Robillard very carefully and systematically lays out in his book Heartburn Cured, that often acid reflux and even serious conditions of GERD come from to little acid production in the stomach. If that is confusing, I understand. It’s not the common explanation given by mainstream medicine.
GERD is caused by to little acid in the stomach not by to much.
See as we age our bodies produce less of everything like hormones, neurotransmitters and HCL. The highest population that experience GERD symptoms are the elderly 65 years or older. Dr Norm Robillard in his book Heartburn Cured explains that undigested carbohydrates can provoke an overgrowth in the small intestine that leads to gas and acid reflux. Guess what happens to the carbohydrates in your gut if you don’t have the proper amounts of HCL and other enzymes to break them down properly? If the bodies digestive enzymes were working properly than a small amount of undigested food particles would make it to the small intestine. The undigested excess carbs end up being digested by the bacteria and can produce a significant amount of pressure and gas.
According to Suarez and Levitt 30 grams of undigested carbohydrates can produce 10,000 liters of gas and during the metabolic balancing act in the micro flora of the gut. That is a sizable amount of gas can be produced.
This pressure and gas from fermenting grains and carbohydrates pushes it’s way up the digestive tract past the LES (esophageal sphincter that acts as a gate between the stomach and the esophagus) and creates the acid reflux symptoms that are so common for some many people. That is why so many people with acid reflux feel symptoms reduce when they reduce the carbohydrate load in their diet.
How to Fix Your GERD Symptoms
1. The first thing to do is eliminate the extra food for the unfavorable flora that is thriving from undigested food primarily carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out completely but you can reduce them and substitute carb sources that are more natural and less refined. Tubers are a good source or squash. Cut out any artificial sweeteners or sugar as well.
2. Start thinking about rebuilding the lining of the gut by eating some nourishing bone stock. Bone stock is packed with everything your gut needs to rebuild itself and reduce inflammation. Make sure your source is free range, happy and health cows, sheep or chickens.
3. Increase your HCL by taking a high quality supplement that also has pepsin in it as well. I like Standard Process as a quality brand. Start out with a low dose 1/4 of what is recommended for a few days to make sure you won’t have a problem with it. Increase it to the normal dose recommended after a few weeks. Keep track of your symptoms and monitor where you are after a month.
You can also use bitter herbs to stimulate the digestive enzymes and HCL. These herbs are easiest to take in a tincture form. The bitter taste stimulates the digestive cascade.
- Danelion Root and Leaves
- Burdock Yellow
- Gentian Root
4. Increase the amount of fermented foods you are consuming. Homemade sauerkraut, kefir with out sugar homemade yogurt are all good sources. You can buy the grains and cultures on line if you want to make your own. You may also want to take a high quality pro biotic like biokult.
5. If this is an ongoing long term problem for you I would recommend working with a qualified health practitioner that has experience in helping people with heartburn and GERD.
LOSING WEIGHT IS ABOUT BALANCE
Losing weight is a process of healing the different organ systems that are sick and in this way you move towards a healthier state of body and mind. Losing weight is many faceted. It involves diet, organ health, metabolism health, emotional and mental health and reducing inflammation and pain in the body. In this article I focused on the importance of having a health gut and digestive function which will make you healthier and allow you to take one more step closer to reaching your weight loss goals.