After several decades of working with thousands of patients, writing and researching articles, and deepening my understanding of Ayurveda, it has become clear to me that the pith of optimal health and longevity lies in restoring the digestive strength and healthy microbiology.
I believe everyone should have a working knowledge of how to troubleshoot different aspects of the digestive process. Often, when I am working with a patient, it takes me asking some very targeted questions to begin to shed light on their digestive issues. Most of the time, we are either unaware of our digestive discomfort because we accept it as “normal,” we feel like we can live with it, or we have nobody to talk to about it so we ignore the issue and let it perpetuate.
We can’t afford to do this. The truth is, 80% of the body’s immunity lies in the digestive tract – as well as 95% of the mood support chemicals, including serotonin. This research suggests that our mood is far more influenced by our digestion than by the chemistry in the brain.
It has also been proven that 90% of the cells that make up the human body at any given time are microbes (bugs) – and only 10% of us are human cells. These bugs play an absolute role in every aspect of our health. Where do the majority of these bugs reside? That’s right, in the digestive tract.
Now that we have shed light on the importance of maintaining digestive strength, we have to consider sound digestion as a pre-requisite for overall health.
Every single digestive concern that you may have is your body speaking to you. Please take my Digestive Health Quiz below to find out what your body is trying to tell you, and let’s make it a goal to make your digestion better than ever!
Digestive Health Quiz
How to take this Quiz:
See if you answer “yes” to any of the scenarios below. A common root cause for that scenario is listed directly below the question. Herbal support and further reading for the indicated cause is listed at the end of the quiz.
Consider Stomach Support
1. Do you have occasional trouble digesting wheat?
This could be due to a lack of the digestive stomach acid needed to break down the gluten protein contained in wheat.
2. Do you have occasional trouble digesting dairy?
This could be due to low digestive acid needed to break down the casein protein.
a. Skim milk: If this causes problems, it may be the casein or lactose in milk causing stomach-related digestive issues, as casein and lactose break down in the stomach.
b. Organic heavy whipping cream: Heavy whipping cream is 100% fat, and casein and lactose free. If this causes problems, it may be a liver gallbladder bile flow issue because the fat is broken down in the small intestine by bile, which is produced and stored in the liver and gallbladder.
3. Do you have occasional heartburn or acid indigestion?
a. If 1/4 tsp. of baking soda with 6 oz of water after a meal helps, it may be due to excess stomach acid.
b. If 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in 6 oz of water helps, it may be due to decreased stomach acid.
c. If it comes 1/2 hour to 1 hour after the meal, it may be a bile flow issue (see “Bile Flow Support” below).
Consider Liver, Gallbladder and Bile Flow Support
1. Do you ever feel queasy, sick or bloated after a high fat meal?
This may be due to lack of bile flow postponing the release of the fatty meal from the stomach into the small intestine.
2. Do you have discomfort under the right rib cage or between the shoulder blades after a fatty meal?
This may be due to a congested liver or gallbladder. See your MD.
3. Do you have occasional heartburn 1/2 – 1 hour after a meal?
Starting at about a half hour after a meal, acid from the stomach may irritate the small intestine if there is a lack of healthy bile flow to buffer the acid.
4. Do you have occasional slow, dry or hard bowel movements?
This could be due to a lack of bile flow. Bile regulates the consistency and frequency of the stool.
5. Do you have trouble digesting heavy, fatty or fried food?
This may very well be due to poor bile flow needed to break down the fatty meal.
Consider Pancreatic Support
1. Do you feel better when taking digestive enzymes?
This may mean the pancreatic enzyme flow is blocked by congested bile.
2. Do you have highs and lows in energy throughout the day and crave sweets, carbs and caffeine?
This may be due to compromised regulation of blood sugar in the pancreas.
Consider Intestinal Villi and Elimination Support
1. Do you have a complete bowel movement less than once a day?
This could be a bile flow or intestinal dryness issue.
2. Do you have occasional dry, hard or sluggish elimination?
This may be due to dry and irritated intestinal mucous membranes (intestinal skin).
3. Do you sometimes experience frequent, loose or mucousy elimination?
This may be due to excess mucus production in the gut.
4. Do you have excess intestinal gas or bloating?
This may be due to poor function of the intestinal villi.
5. Does stress effect your digestion?
We process stress through the intestinal villi and microbes who manufacture mood-supporting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Consider Intestinal Lymphatic Support
1. Do you carry extra weight around the belly?
This may be due to a congestion of the gut associated lymph tissue (GALT) that drains the intestinal tract.
2. Do you get puffy or hold water legs, feet or hands?
This may be due to digestive related lymph congestion in the extremities.
3. Are you particularly stiff in the morning?
This may be due to digestive related lymph congestion in the joints.
4. Does your skin easily become itchy or irritated?
This may be due to digestive related lymph congestion in the skin.
Consider Intestinal Flora Restoration Support
1. Did you answer yes to any of the previous questions?
Ninety percent of the human cells are microbes, with the majority of them residing in the digestive system. Any digestive concern could be due to a lack of diversity or proliferation of healthy intestinal microbes.
For the proliferation of healthy intestinal microbiology (good bugs), the upper and lower digestion must be coordinated in concert to support a healthy intestinal environment, and the microbes themselves must be properly nourished.
i. Do you regularly eat foods rich in naturally occurring good bacteria? A diet lacking in the following would likely starve many strains of good bacteria needed for healthy digestion. (Raw cheese, kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, fermented vegetables, fermented fruits, pickled foods)
ii. Do have a diet rich in foods that antagonize the healthy intestinal flora? A diet rich in non organic, processed, packaged, sterile or preserved foods or cooking oils may disturb the delicate environment needed to proliferate healthy intestinal microbes.
iii. Are you feeding the intestinal microbes properly? The trillions of microbes in the gut feed off of what we consider indigestible, the cellulose and fiber from fruits, veggies and whole grains. Consider a diet with 1/2 the plate vegetables, 1/4 whole starches. 1/4 protein. Try to add a small amount of microbial rich foods like, raw cheese, kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, fermented vegetables, fermented fruits or pickled foods at every meal, or consider a probiotic proven to withstand digestive acids and adhere to the gut wall.
Herbs and Further Reading to Support Various Aspects of Digestion
a. Warm Digest – for low stomach acid.
b. Cool Digest – for occasional heartburn or acid indigestion.
Liver, Gallbladder and Bile Flow Support
a. Beet Cleanse – to decongest bile ducts.
b. Turmeric Plus – to thin bile.
c. Liver Repair – to support the liver’s production of bile.
a. Sugar Destroyer – to support healthy blood sugar levels.
b. Sugar Balance HP – comprehensive nutritional support for healthy blood sugar.
Intestinal Villi and Elimination Support
I. Villi Support
a. Amalaki - rebuilds healthy villi.
b. Slippery Elm Tea Formula – soothes intestinal villi.
c. Brahmi Brain – supports a healthy intestinal response to stress and supports healthy inner skin.
d. Mega Omega – supports the skin of the intestinal wall.
e. Essential Minerals – provides minerals needed for healthy intestinal function.
f. B12 Boost – supports healthy production of neurotransmitters in the gut.
g. Also see: Flora Restoration Support
II. Elimination Support
a. Elim I – soothes the intestines and supports healthy elimination.
b. Elim II – supports loose and/or mucousy stools.
c. Triphala - tones the bowels and scrubs the intestinal wall.
Read: Eat the Right Fiber
Intestinal Lymphatic Support
a. Manjistha – supports proper lymph drainage.
b. Neem - supports healthy intestinal skin, as well as healthy lymph and blood circulation.
Intestinal Flora Restoration Support
a. Gut Revival – supports a healthy intestinal response to unhealthy microbes with probiotic support.
b. Flora Restore – delivers probiotics that adhere to the gut wall.
Comprehensive Digestive Reset and Detox
a. Colorado Cleanse – a group detox and comprehensive digestive reset.
b. Anytime Colorado Cleanse – an individual detox and comprehensive digestive reset.
c. LifeSpa Panchakarma – An in-residence detox, digestive and emotional reset.
d. Short Home Cleanse (Free E-book) – a 4 day detox with digestive support.
Like these articles? Enter your name and email and get them sent to your inbox. * We only send 3 articles a week, along with other occasional updates. We do not share any of your contact information with anyone, ever. You can unsubscribe at any time.