Gastro intestinal System, Enzymes and Probiotics
"...many, if not all, degenerative diseases that humans suffer and die from are caused by the excessive use of enzyme-deficient cooked and processed foods"
Do you know that 80% of all diseases begin in the digestive tract! The health of our digestive tract is a reflection of all 11 systems in the body and the overall health. It breaks down foods, absorbs and makes nutrients available to each and every cell in the body, eliminates waist and toxic products, and regulates the immune system.
Can you imagine how many toxins go back to our systems, if the elimination process is slowing down? Toxins will destroy cells, tissues and organs specially in those that have inherited low functional genes. Toxins can be a reason for DNA mutation.
Digestion is the process by which organisms, make nutrients available to their cells. The digestive system does three very important things: it converts food into something your cells can use for nourishment and then absorb it; protects you from invading organisms and toxins, and disposes of a large variety of waste products.
It has a significant defense system to protect from outside threats; in fact, the largest part of our immune system resides in the lining of the digestive tract. This system contains a highly evolved ecosystem of organisms which are not only critical to proper digestive function but which are also a vital part of the defense system. You can begin to see that an issue in the digestive tract has the potential to be very problematic.
All our body systems rely on digestion! Supporting digestive health and living a preventative lifestyle is therefore vital for proper immune function, longevity, and wellness. Good health begins — and can end! — along the path of the digestive tract. There is an old expression that Death Begins in the Colon. Let's face it: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, gas, diverticulitis, polyps, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis and colon cancer are the result of a toxic colon. Many other diseases that, at first glance, appear to have no connection with the digestive tract have actually been related to bowel function. Here are some examples: diabetes, allergy, asthma, gall bladder stones, kidney stone, gout, hypertension, migraine, autoimmune diseases, psoriases and obesity.
How Food is Digested. Enzymes
Food is our fuel; we receive all the necessary building materials from food. Enzymes are a natural part of our food. They are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and other raw products. The body needs digestive enzymes to break down food into proper ingredients, use those nutrients, and then be able to remove waste. Modern food has an extended shelf life. It is shipped from country to country, coast-to-coast. To keep it from spoiling, natural food enzymes are artificially destroyed. All canned, pasteurized, genetically modified, and cooked foods contain no enzymes. Can you imagine how hard this food can be digested? It becomes a big burden to your digestive tract! A surprising number of people have digestive tract problems. These days, to protect the digestive system we need, supplemental enzymes. For enzyme supplements to be helpful, they have to be specific to the individual.
There are three classes of enzymes:
- metabolic enzymes, which run our body
- digestive enzymes, which digest our food
- food enzymes from raw foods, which begin food digestion.
Food we eat enters the digestive tract through the mouth. Salivary glands exist in the mouth to secrete mucus and serous fluids, collectively known as saliva. Mucus moistens and binds the food together for swallowing. The serous fluid contains salivary amylase and lipase, the enzymes for starch and fat digestion. Saliva enhances taste sensations as well as contains bacteria-inhibiting substances such as lysozymes and antibodies.
That is why it is important to chew food for as long as possible. It exposes food to salivary enzymes and aids in digestion.
Digestion continues in the stomach by the addition of mucus, hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and more lipase enzymes. The food, now known as chyme, travels through the pyloric sphincter to the small intestine. The majority of chemical digestion occurs in the small intestine (duodenum) with the help of pancreatic secretions and bile.
The pancreas is a gland that stretches between the spleen and the duodenum above the colon. The main function of the pancreas is to secrete amylase, sucrase, maltase, lactase, trypsin, chymotrypsin, peptidase and lipase enzymes. These enzymes enter the duodenum in an alkaline solution to neutralize the acidic chyme, and to continue the process of digestion. The pancreas is also responsible for secreting the hormones insulin and glucagon which help balance blood glucose level.
Enzymes need to be in the optimum cellular environment to maintain homeostasis and good health. When the enzyme potential is exhausted, the body’s life ends.
The liver, the largest gland in the body, almost completely covers the front of the stomach. Aside from assisting in other metabolic and regulatory processes, the liver’s function in digestion is to produce bile, a yellowish-green liquid solution. The gallbladder is a small sac located adjacent to the stomach that stores, concentrates, and releases bile into the duodenum. Bile salts work to emulsify fats, which helps lipase digest them more completely and efficiently. Bile also alkaline duodenal environment, helping pancreatic enzymes to digest food.
Microvilli, villi and circular folds within the small intestine are primarily responsible for surface absorption. The large intestine (the colon) absorbs water from the digested macromolecules and eliminates residue from the body. Mucus in the large intestine helps ease the passage of digested food from the digestive tract as feces. If person drinks not adequate amount of water, body needs in water is covered with the colon water.
Gut Immune System
Do you know that most of the immune protection occurs in the gut? Gut-Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT) lies underneath the thin lining of the gut and exists as the GI tract’s immune system. GALT is composed of lymphoid tissue that contains various specific immune cells, tonsils, adenoids and Peyer’s patches. As part of the human body’s cell-mediated immune response, the Peyer’s patches alert T and B-cells to begin elimination by macrophages contained in the intestinal mucosa. Antibodies in the intestinal mucosa then alert cytokines to instigate an inflammatory response to rid the body of the antigen.
Intestinal Microbiota and Probiotics
The digestive system is host to approximately one hundred trillion bacteria, some beneficial and some harmful.
Antibiotics, Birth control, Hormonal therapy, prescription drugs, chemotherapy, stress, obesity, genetically modified food, food preservatives, diet lack fresh vegetable, and fruit lead to depletion of normal flora.
Although some of these microbes are pathogens, most are harmless or even beneficial. The body's assortment of microorganisms, collectively called the microbiota, is similar to an organ in that it performs functions essential for our survival.
Although all humans have grossly similar microbiota, no two people have exactly the same composition of bacterial species in their guts—in fact, each individual's microbial consortium may turn out to be as unique as a fingerprint.
Outside influences such as antibiotic use, diet, and psychological stress have shown strong correlations with what lives inside our bodies.
The microbiota is similar to an organ in that it performs functions essential for our survival. Pervasive antibiotic use may also be disrupting the microbiota among people living in developed countries. Both human and animal studies have shown that even a one-time antibiotic treatment can lead to decreases in bacteria usually considered beneficial, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, as well as increases in potential pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and the yeast Candida albicans. In the short term, such shifts in microbiota can cause yeast infections and GI symptoms including bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, but recent work suggests the consequences may be much longer-lasting and more serious.
Good bacteria or probiotics are mostly represented with different species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
Probiotic main functions are:
Keep microbial balance in the intestinal tract and women vagina; inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms through the production of antimicrobial substances
Synthesize essential vitamins (vitamins B and K) and amino acids and digest certain drugs and pollutants
Boost the immune system, elevate a number of protective 'CD4+' immune cells in the blood
Improve digestion and reduce lactose intolerance
Help normalize bowel function
Probiotics are referred as a “living drug”. Can a dose of bacteria a day keep the doctor away? Yes, according to a Swedish study. The workers who took probiotic supplements got sick half as much as their colleagues who had not taken probiotics. The findings lend support to claims that live bacteria can boost the body's immune system.
Some microbes produce vitamins and other essential nutrients. Many metabolize food that we can't digest on our own. They also break down drugs and toxins, and regulate many aspects of innate and acquired immunity, protecting the host from infections and chronic inflammation, as well as possibly many immune-based disorders. When an environmental agent alters the function of the microbiota, the result can be disease.
Shifts in the microbial species that reside in our intestines have been associated with a long list of pathologies, from allergies and autoimmune diseases to obesity and cancer. Some researchers even suspect that the microbiota may play a role in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
The Brain-Gut Axis
The gastrointestinal tract has its own nervous system, often called a second brain. However, the enteric nerve system must have input from the brain. Multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the normal function of the GI tract. The gastrointestinal tract also sends messages to the brain via gut peptides. Both, the GI and brain immune system produce and react with cytokines between each other. There is no question if the brain is not functioning well, the gut can become compromised (fig 1). As the brain-gut axis loses its efficiency the digestive tract loses its motility and digestive enzyme release, gallbladder contraction, and poor intestinal blood flow. Addition, it may also cause the development of “leaky gut”.
Traumatic brain injury can lead to various mechanisms of gastrointestinal dysfunction, such as mucosal ischemia and atrophy, low motility, and initiate intestinal inflammation.
Impaired GI function impacts the brain's immune system and neurotransmitter signaling pathways.
According to numerous researches, there is no doubt that there are multiple neurochemical bidirectional communication pathways between the gut and the brain. It was found that various psychiatric cases actually originated in the gut. The GI flora has been implicated in the development of depression.
Figure 1. Brain-Gut connection
When our digestive system fails, we may experience a few early warning signs such as indigestion, heartburn, burping, belching, gas, flatulence, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, gut inflammation, food intolerances, and food allergies. If we choose to ignore these warning signals, we can develop leaky gut, GERD, ulcers, hemorrhoids, pancreatitis, hepatitis, diverticulitis, gastritis, colitis, IBS, gallbladder stress/stones, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, mal-absorption, malnutrition, weakened immunity, chronic inflammation, and auto-immune disease.
Common Digestive System Disorders
What happens when there is an interruption in the primary functions of the digestive system?
An impaired immune system
Disturbed intestinal microbiota, dysbiosis