The best thing you and I can do for a healthy digestive/intestinal system is to keep it (or for some, to get it) moving. With the Standard American Diet (notice it spells SAD), constipation is chronic and rampant. In fact, colon cancer (predominantly colorectal cancer) is the 2nd leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. Lung cancer is the first. More lives are lost each year to colon cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined. What is sadder than these statistics is that it is preventable.
In a study done in Japan, Japanese people have only one quarter the risk level of getting colon cancer compared to caucasians in America. However, the risk increases 3 times when they immigrate to California. Furthermore, first generation Japanese Americans born in the States have 4 times greater the risk in getting colon cancer than a Japanese. Clearly this squarely shows that colon cancer is highly dependent on the environment and the eating habits.
A key risk factor highlighted in Part II of this series worth repeating here – densely packed waste in the colon needs to quickly exit out of the body so that it does not become stagnant. The reason being that the stagnant toxins will re-absorb back into our body which can cause havoc to our immune system and other compromised functions. Some symptoms associated with poor intestinal health may include: indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, bad breath, joint pains, skins problems, headaches, chronic fatigue, backaches and even PMS.
For proper intestinal system care, regular healthy diet, exercise, water, fiber and detoxification are recommended.
Diet – There are enough public resources already out there on diets, I am not going to devote too much time here. Except to say that any healthy diet will involved ample amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds and even some meat. They all are full of balanced proteins and complex carbohydrates with unsaturated fats such as Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Another important thing we try to stick with is the 80-20 alkaline to acid-forming diet principle. That is, try to eat 80% of foods that are alkaline forming and 20% acidifying in nature. It is easy, practical and balances the pH. More on that in future blogs.
Exercise – When it comes to exercise, any form of exercise is good. Human beings are made to move. The key things to remember are to do it regularly, frequently, and don’t hurt yourself in the process. By working your muscle groups, exercise may activate and strengthen the muscles around your intestines for an improved peristalsis. I do a balanced routine of core, legs and arms, and cardio exercises at least once a week, sometimes 2 to 3 times/week if my schedule permits.
Water – When it comes to drinking water, we need to drink pure, clean, fresh (if you can get it), and lots of it. Dehydration is one of the key reasons for constipation, not to mention a whole host of other health concerns. How much should you drink a day? Simply take your weight in pounds divide it by 2. That will be the number of ounces one should drink minimally each day. If after this calculation you are shocked at how much water you need to drink, consider yourself seriously at improving your drinking habits. Human beings are made up of greater than 70% water. Although we need to drink plenty of water everyday, we do not want to drink too much water during the meal, as it dilutes the stomach acid and thereby reducing your stomach’s ability to breakdown foods. The best thing is to drink plenty of water in between meals.
Here is why: Water helps the body produce HCl (stomach acid) needed in the first step of digestion when it is introduced before the meal time. Secondly, water is needed to produce bicarbonate solution from the pancreas so that the output of the chyme is not acidic but alkaline. Pancreatic enzymes require an alkaline pH to work properly. If there is not enough bicarbonate solution, the stomach will have hard time emptying itself.
When selecting water purifiers, consider the natural methods as your general guideline. Filtration method is one that I like. Additionally, look for water units that are hydrating with micro-clustered properties, along with alkaline and antioxidant characteristics. Since there is so much to elaborate on these 3 properties alone, I will devote another blog in its entirety about them (We hold educational classes in our stores from time to time on this very subject). But in the meantime, if you have any questions and/or are interested in learning more, just contact me.
Fiber – Dietary fiber is the indigestible micro-roughage part of plant foods. Although indigestible, it has the property of being highly absorbent of any medium in which they are in. It is a great agent for absorbing toxins as well as fats from our body. Since fiber is not completely digestible, our body simply process them out very quickly, pulling along with them a host of toxins and fats that our body should not keep. Thereby fiber is great for improving the transit time of our elimination and even used as a preventive measure for cancers. There are two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble fibers. The insoluble kind remains predominantly within the digestive tracks and hence is a great aid for all kinds of digestive and elimination issues. The soluble kind fiber are partially permeated into the blood stream. For that reason, it has been touted to be great for cholesterol reduction and other healthful benefits. When it comes to fibers, look for both the insoluble (whole grain foods, nuts, seeds, flax, lignans, etc…) and soluble (legumes, oats, rye, chia, barley, fruits, broccoli, carrots, psyllium hulls, etc…) fibers. Since we are not eating sufficient amount of fiber in our diets (we need ~10 to 30 grams per day), supplementation may be the best way to keep up with the quantity we need. We love these fiber supplements from Nature’s Sunshine – Nature’s Three (half/half), Slippery Elm (mostly soluble), Everybody’s Fiber (mucilagent fiber combination to promote healthy bowel movements), and LOCLO (soluble – great for maintaining a good cholesterol level). If you are considering to adding more fiber into your daily diet or supplements, please consider adding more water along with it. Fibers need lots of water to move it along the digestive system.
Detoxification – Many people ask me, why do we need regular cleansing and detoxification? I ask them to take a closer examination of what they are eating, drinking, breathing, and touching daily, they then realize how much chemical over-exposure we all are under. Our body system is not designed to handle all the chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, colorings, flavorings, and plastics. They present an overload to our body system and all of which must be properly disposed of otherwise they may cause a myriad of primary and secondary harms to our body. The good news is that there are natural ways to help us to cleanse and detoxify.
When considering detoxing, there are many ways to do it. Fasting is one popular approach. The key here is that it is giving the entire digestive system a rest. As we mentioned in the first part of this series that one way or another, 2/3 of all our body parts are found to be associated the digestive system and about 2/3 of your daily energy supply is spent to “digest and clean-up” the foods and drinks you ingest. By giving the digestive system a rest, our entire body rests. When it comes to fasting, one important factor need to be considered carefully – are your reserved nutrients in your body system sufficient enough to last you throughout the fasting period (typically days or weeks). A safer way to do it is to allow a light and yet balanced diet plan along with a thorough detoxification regimen.
A Clean Start – One of the few amazing cleansing programs we love is called the CleanStart package. It is a 2-week program that much like an internal soap, it scrubs and moves the fecal matter along the walls of the colon. It contains dietary cleansers such as psyllium hulls (provides at least 10 grams of fiber daily), aloe vera (support intestinal muscle tone), hydrated bentonite (pulls and eliminates toxins) and chlorophyll (pH balancer and fights off body odors). All of which are in a microfine USP-grade powder form of a drink mix. CleanStart also contains 2 additional components – one designed specifically to stimulate the natural peristalsis action in your colon muscle and second to clean your liver by helping it to remove the toxic build-up during the cleanse. So, you will feel refreshed and rejuvenated during and after the cleanse. Many people finds CleanStart to increase their energy level. It also contains Lactobacillus sporogenes to help populate friendly flora. My wife and I get on it at least once (sometimes twice) a year. The energy and the feeling that we get when everything is “flowing”, is absolutely refreshing. We joke with our clients to prepare themselves for a”moving experience.”
Clean Your Body’s Blood Filter – Which is the liver. Besides processing nutrients from food, your liver also makes bile to breakdown the ingested fats, filters and removes much of the toxins in your blood, synthesizes proteins, glycogen storage and metabolism, and produces a whole host of hormones. No wonder Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers liver to be the most important organ of your body as it ensures the full energy and blood flow throughout the body. In TCM practice, emotions and physical organs are closely related. Emotions associated with liver are irritability and anger. Keeping your liver healthy and in tip-top shape is therefore not only good for your health but also good for your emotions. A Chinese liver cleanse product called Tiao-He Cleanse (translated – to achieve harmony) is an excellent 15-day liver cleanse program. It contains many Chinese herbs that supports your intestinal system as well as improve energy and your overall well-being.
My next blog (Part IV of this series) will be on stomach juice and digestive enzymes.