Did you know that respiratory health starts in the gut?
Read on to learn how that works and how you can troubleshoot any digestive issue from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Ayurveda is famous for saying 85% of all disease starts from imbalances in digestion. This premise has been backed up by the discovery of the gut microbiome and the role beneficial bacteria have on at least 70% of our gut immunity.
Until recently, Western medicine considered the respiratory tract sterile. Now, it is known to have its own lung microbiome and immunity. The lung microbiome is intimately linked to gut immunity and our digestive strength.2,3,5
How can a seasonal diet improve our health?
Lung immunity is linked to healthy digestion, a high-fiber diet, and a balanced microbiome. A balanced microbiome manufactures short-chain fatty acids (like butyrate) that drive both gut and lung immunity.
Try eating ghee to help your body manufacture these fatty acids! Studies show a high-fiber diet can increase your ratio of bacteroidetes to firmicutes. This increase is linked to reduced lung inflammation and respiratory immunity.4
During winter, our immune systems are more aggressively challenged. However, the traditional winter diet is high in soluble fiber due to the bounty of the fall harvest—nuts, seeds, and slimy grains like oatmeal. A diet rich in water-soluble fiber is linked to production of short-chain fatty acids and a winter boost in gut and respiratory immunity. Insoluble fiber, like roughage, is a powerful cleanser and detoxifier for the gut. These kick in from a spring and summer harvest.6
Treating Immunity at the Root
Lung immunity is linked to gut immunity, but gut immunity is also dependent on the healthy functioning of the upper digestive system. You can evaluate your upper digestion by how you react to certain foods.
Upper Digestive Strength Quiz
- Do you have food intolerances to wheat, dairy, grains, lectins?
- Do you bloat, burp excessively, pass gas, or carry stubborn weight around your belly?
- Do certain foods make you tired or give you brain fog or skin rashes?
- Do you have heartburn, constipation, or loose or undigested food in your stools?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may have a weak digestive system. This may be linked to compromised gut and respiratory immunity.
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How does digestion work?
Digestion starts in the mouth. Healthy mouth bacteria make digestive enzymes that help us break down foods like wheat, dairy, grains, and lectins.7
By the time food reaches the stomach, the combination of chewing and mouth digestive enzymes have predigested the food. The stomach’s extremely acidic environment will finish the job. It breaks down hard-to-digest proteins like gluten, casein in dairy, lectins, and others. Stomach acid protects the intestines from undesirable microbes, which can do real damage.
The next stop is the liver and gallbladder. These coordinate to secrete bile, which emulsifies fats. The pancreas and duodenum secrete digestive enzymes
—all of which ensure that extreme acids do not leave the stomach.8,9
If any part of the upper digestive chain breaks down, the risk of unhealthy quantities of undigested fat and proteins entering the intestines surges. Undigested proteins like gluten, beneficial fats, and toxic fats overwhelm the intestinal tract. They are too big to enter the bloodstream as nutrition. Instead, they irritate the intestinal lining. They congest the collecting ducts of the gut’s lymphatic system, which controls gut immunity.10
In addition to compromising your immune system, digestive imbalances cause bloating, food intolerances, food comas, belly fat, fatigue, brain fog, rashes, joint aches, and more. These are ultimately linked to lymph congestion. 11
Read my free Miracle of Lymph eBook.
When the stomach ceases to produce the correct amount of acid, and the liver, gallbladder, duodenum, and pancreas no longer produce the correct amount of bile, your respiratory immunity is at risk. Digestive enzymes and acid-buffering agents initially result in digestive imbalances and food intolerances. These intolerances slowly break down gut and respiratory immunity.1-10
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Troubleshooting the Digestive Weak Link
The reason I wrote Eat Wheat was simple. Ayurveda suggests to treat the person with the digestive imbalance, rather than blame the foods. Changing the environment of the gut and respiratory tract is more important than killing microbial invaders.
Some Basic Digestive Reset Tips
- If you have undigested food in your stools, without any symptoms of heartburn, try ginger or ginger tea. LifeSpa suggests Warm Digest before meals.
- If you have occasional heartburn, along with burping, you may be holding acid in the stomach too long. In Ayurveda, this is called udvarta. Try drinking ¼ tsp baking soda with 1 cup water. For this, LifeSpa suggests Cool Digest before meals.
- If you have gas, bloat, or sensitive digestion, you may be spice deficient. Try cooking with ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel, and cardamom or try LifeSpa’s (Five Spices) Gentle Digest before meals.
- For boggy and weak digestive agni, food that sits in the tummy, and undigested food in the stool, or food intolerances along with normal acidity, consider Warm Digest (long pepper, ginger, black pepper).
- If you have difficulty digesting fats or eating greasy fried food, you may have liver, gallbladder, and bile flow issues. For this, try my ABC juice (apple, beet, celery) with breakfast each morning or try LifeSpa’s Liver Repair with each meal.
- For sluggish bowel function and occasional constipation, add more soluble fiber like flax, chia, and oats to your diet. Try the ABC juice and/or Liver Repair, as bowel function is governed by adequate bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. Take LifeSpa’s Elim I, 1-3 2x/day AM and PM. Elim I combines triphala with soluble fibers to support healthy bowel function.
- For leaky gut issues, a sensitive digestion, and a tendency to looser stools, consider LifeSpa’s Leaky Gut Support, 1-2 with meals.
How are your digestion and respiratory health?