For all my readers in the northern hemisphere, happy summer! I hope you will be able to take a vacation this summer. Maybe you can get in a few days at the beach and work on those vitamin D stores. Or maybe you can get together with family or friends who you don’t see too often. Whatever it is, and even if you have to work all summer, I hope you take some time to relax deeply and enjoy the fruits, vegetables, and other natural wonders of summer.
If you’re traveling, you may encounter troubles with your digestive system. You may eat different foods, may sleep at different times, and, well, things just don’t work out the same (if you know what I mean). Though digestion isn’t a topic with tons of sex appeal, know that your digestive health is critical to your overall health. So bear with me as I share some new information on digestive health in this month’s blog.
Your Gut: A Delicate Garden?
Your gut is a very delicate ecosystem, with more flora (healthy bacteria) in it than all the other cells in the body put together. When this ecosystem is healthy, your digestive tract has the proper balance of stomach acids and bacteria. This allows your body to breakdown food for nourishment and cell repair. Without the ability to absorb nutrition from your food and eliminate waste, you may experience all kinds of health issues that, on the surface, don’t seem to be related to digestion. These include headaches, mood issues, weight gain, menstrual cramps, fatigue, back pain, frequent colds, estrogen dominance, and more. If your digestive health is poor, everything suffers.
Here are some things you might not know about the amazing digestive system:
The lining in your gut is actually part of your immune system. In fact, it’s your first line of defense against bugs and other organisms that can make you ill. For millennia, this immune mechanism was needed for the survival of the species. Humans lived without refrigeration and didn’t always know enough to practice safe food handling. When your gut is healthy, it keeps any foreign invaders in food from getting into the bloodstream. It also protects you from airborne viruses and bacteria.
Research done in recent years proves there is a real connection between the digestive tract and the nervous system. (To learn more read Michael Gershon, M.D.’s book The Second Brain.)
In addition to the nervous system in the spine, there is a nervous system in the gut called the enteric nervous system, which sends signals to the brain and vice versa. If you are anxious, depressed, or stressed, you may notice that your desire for food is different or your digestion is off. Stress hormones can shut down digestion (which results in constipation) or speed it up (which results in diarrhea).
The digestive system actually produces more neurotransmitters than the brain does. I suspect that many women could avoid antidepressants altogether just by supporting their digestive system. How many of us reach for a sugary treat when stressed? This is a short-term (and unhealthy) way to make the neurotransmitters your body needs to restore your emotional equilibrium.
The phrases “Rely on your gut” and “Gut instinct” make more sense than you may realize! As a second brain, it may be more effective. It doesn’t have to contend with the judgmental “committee,” which lives in your left brain and will often try to talk you out of what you know in your gut to be true.
As an energy system, the digestive system is part of the third chakra. This area has to do with self-esteem, self-expression, an appropriate sense of responsibility, and having the confidence to “go with your gut.”
To continue reading and learn the new ABCs of Digestion, click here.
A few months ago, Gerard Mullin, M.D., was a guest on my Internet radio show Flourish! Dr. Mullin is a classically trained, holistic gastroenterologist (GI), professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, and author of Inside Tract. I asked him to speak about GI problems and to answer questions from callers.
During the show, Dr. Mullin told me that his mom had irritable bowel syndrome and it was so severe that she was often bed ridden. Doctors told her it was all in her head, but she sought a natural approach for dealing with it and was able to improve her health. Dr. Mullin’s career and his book are dedicated to uncovering and sharing holistic treatments for GI distress.
If you’re looking for a way to get to the root cause of your digestive issues—including bloating, Crohn’s disease, gastric reflux, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and more—Dr. Mullin’s book Inside Tract will be a welcome edition to your library.
I wanted to tell you about some treats that are just perfect for the pampered pooch: Wild Salmon Skin Pet Chews (that look just like bones), Wild Salmon Pet Snack Rolls, and Wild Salmon Jerky Pet Treats. These snacks from Vital Choice contain no fillers, byproducts, nitrates, or preservatives.
Like humans, dogs need omega-3 fats to support overall health and enable optimal health. Yet, as well as using inferior ingredients, many commercial pet foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3s … an imbalance that promotes and sustains damaging inflammation. So adding omega-3s to your dog’s diet is a very good idea!
More Health Resources for July
I’ve chosen these special resources to help you on your journey to vibrant health.
My friend Cheryl Richardson’s book The Art of Extreme Self-Care is now available in paperback. As Cheryl shows in her book, one of the best ways to implement change is slowly, incorporating new habits over time. Why not start this summer?
Podcast Yeast Infections and the Role of Probiotics
Most women have experienced the discomfort of a vaginal yeast infection. Dr. Northrup discusses common causes, and the role of probiotics in helping to balance your body's ecosystem.
Flourish! Did you know that my Internet radio show programs are available for you to listen to for free? For about a week after they are recorded, you can download them. You can also become a member of Hay House Radio, and listen to programs in the archives whenever you like. Download some, and catch up on what you’ve missed over the summer. In addition to music, listening to these programs is a great diversion when you’re traveling.
* The information contained on this Web site has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease and is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, supplement, exercise or other health program.
This web site may contain links to third party product or service offerings and those parties may compensate Christiane Northrup, Inc. (CNI) for referrals. Information regarding third party products or service offerings are provided to CNI by such third parties.