Digestive Health Part V – Intestine Is Our Second Brain

Has anyone told you that your digestive/intestine system is your second brain? If you don’t believe it, check out these facts:

* Unlike heart, kidneys and other organs in our body, the intestine has its own sensors and decision making nervous system (much like our brain).

* If you ate something bad, your stomach is able to assess its content and realize it is bad and then get rid of them as fast as it can through its autonomic nervous response system to cause it to vomit out the bad content.

* A brain dead person, in a vegetated state, is able to live a long time as long that its intestinal functions are not compromised. Independent of the brain, all digestive functions including breaking down of foods and absorption of nutrients will continue.

* Intestinal system is the only organ in our body equipped with its own nervous system independent of the brain. In fact, I read in a scientific paper that there are more nerve lines going from the intestinal system to the brain than the other way around. It begs one to ponder, who is in charge of our body – your brain or your gut? Come to think of it, there may be some truth to a common saying: “use your gut feeling” for decision making.

* It’s been found that serotonin is a key neurotransmitter within the 15 billion neurons in the brain and plays an absolute central role in brain function. Scientists have discovered that 90% of the serotonin found in the brain are also found in our intestinal system.

Now that you are seeing our digestive and intestinal organs are a marvelous piece of intelligent system, you may be asking what else does it do? Funny you ask. I will highlight here one simple task that is critical to yours and my health.

The intestinal system is smart enough to keep you healthy but it is your gut flora that activates and deactivates the intestinal functions. For example, despite of its complex governing system, the response rate of the intestinal system can be compromised when it is overloaded with bad flora. Stress, overeating, overdrinking, heavy metals and toxic substances all can destabilize the intestinal environment such that the balance between the good and bad bacteria (flora) is shifted towards conducive environment for bad flora to grow without abatement.

What is a good and healthy balance between the good and the bad flora? We suggest somewhere around 75 to 25 ratio between the good and the bad, respectively. The bad intestinal microbes promote diarrhea and constipation. They make toxic substances such as ammonia, sulfuric acid, and other toxic material. They also has potential to create oncogenic substances which are carcinogens within the intestines. The bad flora feeds off the fecal matters and sugar and other acid-forming foods such as processed milk products and meat. Lack of sleep will also cause the growth of bad microbes within the intestines. Candida albicans is a natural part of the body’s gut flora. But for the factors described here can lead to candida overgrowth in our gastrointestinal tract, making it difficult to balance it with the good bacteria. C. albicans lives in 80% of the human population without causing harmful effects, although overgrowth of this fungus results in candidiasis (candidosis).

Good flora (or bacteria) aid in the movement of the bowels to prevent diarrhea and constipation. It helps the absorption of nutrients in the intestines. It also maintains our immune system at a high level to protect our body from infections. The good bacteria uses oligosaccharide as its food source. They secrete lactates within the intestine to inhibit the growth of bad flora. The gut does its best to try to actively balance itself from the bad. All it needs is our cooperation by feeding it what it needs to do its job. Bad bacteria cannot use oligosaccharides as their food. Lactobacillus is the microbe equipped with a transport to use oligosaccharide as its nutrition. As a result, both of these nutrients stimulate the growth of good microbes in our intestines. Food sources that are good for good flora balance are yogurt, fermented beans or vegetables (rich in prebiotics), fruits, tofu, raw cultured dairies with rich probiotics (Amasai from Beyond Organic), and other produce. All of these food are rich in oligosaccharides, which good flora can use to thrive. Since bad bacteria cannot use the oligosaccharides, they will starve off over time. Enzymes also are a great source of nutrients to maintaining a critical level of good bacteria in the intestinal environment.

What to do when are intestinal system is already in a bad flora dominant state? We recommend doing a Candida Clear cleanse as soon as possible, change the eating habits and replenish your gut with good bacteria by means of probiotic supplementation. Here are some products that will help in each of these areas:

Candida Clear is a 14-day cleansing program, which consists of two packs: the Candida Clear Combo pack and the Candida Clear Enzyme pack. The Candida Clear Combo pack is formulated with natural ingredients such as pau d’arco, caprylic acid and oregano that have been shown to help balance the colonization of Candida. Other ingredients including garlic, selenium and zinc, are used to support the body’s immune function. The Candida Clear Enzyme pack contains a proprietary blend of enzymes specially formulated to provide support to the intestinal tract. Candida’s cell wall is composed of a variety of components, including carbohydrates and proteins. We can make their cell wall vulnerable to the digestive action of the carbohydrolytic and proteolytic enzymes found in this formula.

Probiotic Supplementation – As mentioned earlier, probiotics are essential to the regulation of our digestive and intestinal functions including elimination of toxins and promote healthy immune function. One of the best products on the market today is Probiotic Eleven. Probiotic Eleven provides 11 species of live microorganisms that exert many beneficial health effects. Among other things, they support digestion, promote immunity and aid in the elimination of toxins. This specially formulated blend contains strains of important gut-beneficial organisms and prebiotics (non-digestible foodstuffs, including fiber) that serve as food for the probiotics in the colon. Clinical studies have shown that short- and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) may improve growth of friendly microorganisms, enhance mineral absorption, support bowel health and function, and promote immune function. This product is in a special encapsulate called enteric coated capsule. It is specially designed to deliver and release the good bacteria in the intestines and not in the stomach where many of them will be killed by the stomach acid. For greatest effect, take these on an empty stomach.

Let me wrap up this series by saying we cannot underestimate the importance of the digestive and intestinal system. It is smarter than we think and it is certainly more complex than we understand it today. Nevertheless, it is easy to make it do what it is supposed to do. Simply eat right, supplement right, and rest well. It will keep you strong and healthy with full of energy and life. However, if you are not in a healthy state right now, the digestive/intestinal system would be my first area to work on to gaining back my vitality.

Please let me know any of your comments on this series by using the Comment section below. Stay tuned for next month’s topic on Joint Health. Come by any one of our Natural Wellness centers to talk to us in person or if you wish to try our products described.

To Your Health,

Paul Tsui

ND, CNHP, MS, BS

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Posted by Paul

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