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Bestselling author, The Carb Sensitivity Program and The Hormone Diet, 
Dr. Natasha Turner is here to talk about healthy digestion and hormones. 
 
http://www.clearmedicine.com
@drnatasha

Digestion 

Healthy Digestion, Hormonal Balance and Fat Loss 
 
Our digestive nervous system can function on its own, but optimal GI function really happens when there is constant back-and-forth communication process between our digestive tract and brain. Through these cross connections, the gut can provide sensory information to the brain, and the brain can affect GI function. For example, appetite is triggered in the brain when your stomach is empty. The brain also relays signals from your senses to the digestive system. Your mouth, for instance, might water when you see food. This may also explain why simply smelling food before you eat can provide some satisfaction and may actually help to reduce your caloric intake. 
 
The foods you chose and the function of your digestive tract both strongly influence your nervous system and your endocrine system. Their effects can in turn alter your hormones, inflammatory response and – you guessed it – affect your ability to lose weight by influencing your ability to burn fat, appetite or cravings.
 
Other Benefits of a Healthy Digestive System 
 
Your digestive system not only exerts its effects locally on the process of digestion but also on your complete physiology. While the connections may seem a little more obscure, the GI tract is closely linked with all of the following and, therefore, the very foundations of your wellness:

Immunity 

Sixty percent of your immune system is clustered around your digestive tract. This structure makes good sense – if you eat something rotten, your immune system is close by to protect you. At the same time, if the digestive tract is unhealthy or the integrity of the gut wall is poor, your immune system may be easily compromised. Over time, many individuals experiencing digestive complaints tend to develop signs of weakened immunity and increased inflammation such as allergies, skin rashes or acne breakouts, joint pain, headaches or frequent colds and flus. Likewise, consuming certain foods can aggravate your inflammatory or allergy symptoms. 
 
Supplement: A probiotic to boost gut immunity & plant sterols to aid gut immunity 
 

Serotonin Status, Cravings, Mood and Sleep Patterns

Ever wonder why you tend to crave sweets and carbohydrates when you feel down? Physiologically, this phenomenon is not surprising, since the majority of your “happy hormone”, serotonin, is produced by cells around your digestive tract and not, as you might have imagined, in your brain. This connection has prompted researchers to develop new medications that influence serotonin for the purpose of treating irritable bowel syndrome. Similarly, eliminating food allergies, which can adversely affect serotonin levels, can help reduce anxiety, depression or sleep irregularities associated with low serotonin. Overall our digestive system is known to affect our mood, memory and concentration.
 
Other neurotransmitters produced in the digestive tract include GABA and histamine. GABA is naturally calming and reduces anxiety and muscle tension. Histamine is involved in the allergic response and influences stomach acid production.

Supplement: 5 HTP to increase serotonin and also used to help constipation/anxiety/depression/food cravings and sleep disruption
 

Appetite Control 

Certain hormones are produced in response to the presence of food in the body. For example, when fat makes its way into the small intestine, the appetite-controlling hormones CCK, peptide YY (PYY) and leptin are produced to make us feel full and tell us to stop eating. In other words, making sure we include healthy, unsaturated fats in our meals and snacks is the secret to feeling full, satisfied and craving free. Even though this recommendation seems quite basic, it’s truly founded in the most cutting-edge research for obesity treatment and prevention.
 
Supplement: Fiber supplement and krill old/fish oil as healthy fiber and fat 
 

Cellulite

Did you ever imagine that those pesky pockets of cellulite could actually be caused by an allergic reaction? Well, the immune response to food proteins may indirectly contribute to increased amounts of cellulite. A delayed allergic reaction from foods may occur within blood vessels, causing inflammation in the vessel walls and subsequently triggering clotting mechanisms. This increased inflammation in the arteries and capillaries may contribute to poor circulation, a known cause of cellulite and reduced lymphatic drainage. Believe it or not, avoiding food intolerances (and following the other recommendations outlined in later steps of The Hormone Diet) may diminish the appearance and formation of cellulite. 

Supplement: Wobenzym to reduct inflammation and lymhpadrops to aid lymph drainage 


Heart Disease 

Slightly more concerning is the possible link between food allergies and heart disease and stroke through this same inflammatory mechanism routed in the GI tract. Studies involving the measurement of highly sensitive C-reactive protein in the blood have found that this inflammatory marker is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. This research clearly supports the strong connection between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. One more reason why removing all factors that contribute to inflammation, including the consumption of unhealthful trans fatty acids and saturated fats, is extremely beneficial. 
 
Supplement: mixed vitamin E or red palm oil 
 

Stress Hormone Imbalance 
 
Foods that promote an allergic response or inflammation can also boost cortisol because of the physical stress the reactions place on your body. I have already discussed in detail the detrimental effects of high cortisol on hormonal balance and fat loss, but I don’t mind reminding you that they are also a major cause of immune compromise and premature aging.
 
Supplement: Hydrolyzed milk protein from calming stress and nervous system and quercitin for antihistamine 


Detoxification and Nutrient Absorption and B12 status

When our bowels are not moving properly, waste builds up in our body creating toxicity and hampering our overall health. A buildup of estrogen by-products is particularly worrisome, since estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted into the digestive system in the bile. Bacteria in the large bowel further the breakdown of estrogen. Liver function, bile secretion, bacterial balance and sufficient bowel movements are essential to ridding the body of toxins, especially excess estrogen, which can increase cancer risks. 
 
If the digestive system is compromised, or the small intestine is inflamed, our body may fail to properly absorb vitamin B12, which is crucial for healthy red blood cell production, mood, carbohydrate metabolism, fertility and overall nervous system health. The stomach cells produce intrinsic factor, a compound necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12. If the stomach doesn’t produce sufficient intrinsic factor, or if stomach acid levels are too low, a deficiency of vitamin B12 can easily occur. Vitamin B12 is also essential for establishing the healthy sleep patterns needed to optimize your hormonal balance for fat loss. 

Supplement: bowel detox support-tryphala and vitamin C 

 
Your digestive system is closely integrated with so many other systems in your body. Making sure this essential system is in tip top shape is one of the keys to perfecting your metabolism from the inside out. Next to beating stress and optimizing sleep, healthy digestion is right up there with liver detox in importance as a factor for lasting fat loss. 


Restoring deigestive health

Is Your Digestive System Working Hard or Hardly Working? 
 
Let’s face it; few of us like to spend much time thinking about the contents of our toilet. But together with general feelings in and around your gut, the frequency and quality of your “poop” can give you the real scoop on your digestive health. Use this simple questionnaire to determine whether your digestion could use some help. 

Question YES/NO
Do you have less than one bowel movement a day?  
Do you ever have stools that are black in color?  
Have you ever noticed blood in your stool?
 
Have you ever noticed mucous in your stool?
 
Are your stools very narrow?
 
Do you have a tendency towards loose stools or diarrhea?
 
Do you ever go without having a bowel movement on a given day?
 
Do your stools sink?  
Do you experience excessive gas?  
Do you experience abdominal bloating?  
Do you have heart burn, indigestion, or reflux?   
Do you have recurring nausea?  
Do you have abdominal pain or cramping?  
Do you notice food in your stools (besides corn)?  

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, your digestive system needs work. 
 
Optimal bowel function is one bowel movement after each meal – ideally three times a day but a minimum of once daily. If you are experiencing less, you’re constipated. 
 
Quality matters, as well. The perfect bowel movement should be well formed and float. It should be free of food particles, mucous and not overly narrow. Mucous in or covering the stool or narrow stools suggests inflammation of the bowel. Strong smelling gas may suggest a deficiency of the enzymes necessary to properly digest protein or an imbalance of healthy gut flora (e.g., parasitic infection). If you wake in the morning with a nice flat stomach but look five months pregnant by day’s end, your digestion also needs help. Abdominal tenderness is yet another indication that your bowels could be inflamed and you need to consider your food choices, bacterial balance, enzymes and the state of your digestive tract wall. 
 
Some digestive problems are caused or exacerbated by adverse reactions to particular foods. Such reactions can impair the release of enzymes, the movement of your intestines and the walls of your GI tract. An extreme example is celiac disease, an allergic reaction to gluten that interferes with nutrient absorption. In other cases, the barrier of the intestinal wall can become permeable, allowing foreign substances to pass into the bloodstream. When this disruption occurs, inflammation, immune compromise or allergies may follow and lead to hormonal imbalance.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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