15 areas of health and wellness.... #2
Continuing with the series of 15 areas of wellness that is assessed in the WICO questionnaire, today's area of health to consider is one that approximately 1/3 of US adults take into consideration daily because they have symptoms or take medication to help them with this (but really, 100% should...)
DIGESTION and it's evil cousin, ABSORPTION.
I would go out on a limb here and say that YOUR DIGESTION PROBABLY SUCKS. (Sorry. Keeping it real, people....)
Seriously, this is so critical to health but SO many of you are doing it wrong!! If it is common for you to have days that remind you of the ol' Pepto-Bismol jingle, digestion is a weak link in your chain of health, my friend.
Take my unofficial quiz for digestion:
1. Do you get heart burn or take anything for heart burn? (It's the 3rd most-common class of medications.)
2. Do you burp, or feel gassy or bloated after eating?
3. If you burp, do you re-taste your meal? (sometimes still counts...)
4. Do you still have your gallbladder?
5. Have you taken antibiotics?
6. Did you take probiotics afterward?
7. Do you chew your food about 20 times per bite? (really, take a count next time! Your bite should be like liquid when you swallow.)
8. Do you DRINK a lot of fluids DURING your meal?
9. Do you have a bowel movement EVERY day?
10. Do you lose at least 12" of stool per day? (Yes, 1 foot!)
11. Do you take anything to help you go to the bathroom?
If you answered "Yes" to #1, 2, 3, 5, 8, or 11... or "No" to #4, 6, 7, 9 or 10, your digestion is probably poor.
Any 1 of those on that short list (depending on how you answered) is a sign of bad digestion.
If you can't DIGEST your food, you make it so much harder on your body to ABSORB nutrients from your food. You could be eating "right" and still have poor nutrition because your digestion just isn't working.
To see how you would score in 15 areas of health, check out the WICO score. I also offer free 10 minute phone consultations if you would like to talk.
Are you one of the MILLIONS of adults taking stomach acid medications? With over $6 Billion in sales on antacids, you're not alone.
Started them because you felt a little heartburn after you ate?
What if I told you that your heartburn was most likely from LOW stomach acid?
It's true. As we get older, our ability to produce most secretions, including stomach acid goes DOWN, not up. (Thanks, physiology classes!)
Maybe some of you do have true GERD or reflux.... from a faulty valve (LES) at the top of your stomach. Some of you may be overweight, which pushes up on your stomach (and pushes your trying-to-be-digested food upward). Pregnancy can do this temporarily, as well. Some may have a hiatal hernia (where the top of the stomach pokes up through the diaphragm muscle, where it doesn't belong).
Wait, where was "too much stomach acid" on that list??...
You're probably wondering "how can I get heartburn from LOW acid?"
I'm glad you asked.
You need stomach acid to activate your protein-digesting enzymes (pepsin) in the stomach - this breaks protein down into useable amino acids. The low pH produced by stomach acid also inhibits bacterial growth in the stomach and creates the signal to release your food from the stomach (now called chyme) into the small intestine for further digestion.
It takes LONGER for you to process a protein-rich meal when you have low acid. Your stomach will dump as much as is (mostly) ready into the small intestine, leaving undigested food to ferment (causing gas) in the stomach. You eventually release MORE acid to try to finish this digestion, making it seem like you have too much stomach acid, when really if you had enough, you wouldn't need a round 2 of acid to finish your meal. The gas from the fermenting food can cause the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) to open up to relieve the pressure. Hence your heartburn sensation.
***If you burp and taste your dinner, you didn't properly digest it!
Check out this list of signs and symptoms of LOW stomach acid. How many do YOU have now or are being treated for?
Bloating, gas, indigestion, burping... Heartburn, reflux.... vitamin and mineral deficiencies.... yeast infections (candida), dysbiosis, IRREGULAR BOWELS.... Food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances.... Bad breath (halitosis), weak nails.....
As well as others not on the above picture: FATIGUE, ADRENAL (cortisol) imbalances.... GLUCOSE imbalances... The repercussions of LOW stomach acid are numerous and go way beyond your digestive system.
In the human body, you never affect one organ system without affecting other(s).
Functional medicine providers remember that. That's why it's so crucial to evaluate your entire functioning, while ensuring proper foundational function. (Like good acid levels for digestion, preventing this cascade of consequences.)
NOW for a very important word of CAUTION. If you are on prescribed antacids, DO NOT go off of them without supervision. Why? The "rebound" phenomenon is powerful. Meaning, you will produce excess acid for a few weeks after reducing/eliminating your dosage, making you feel worse initially.
It will pass. Find a doctor that will help you.
Side effects of long term use of antacids include: headaches, diarrhea, lowered immune function (making one more prone to problems such as pneumonia and nasty Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections); the mineral deficiencies lead to: osteoporosis, fractures, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeats, seizures....
When Dr. Welch was expecting baby #2, she experienced heartburn for much of her pregnancy. She DID NOT use antacids (and her OB even told her not to because of the rebound effect - some do remember physiology!!) She used natural methods (especially gravity), such as sleeping at a slight elevation at night, to keep stomach fluids down where they belong.
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Iowa Functional Health is an alternative health provider in Des Moines, Iowa.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.