Gut Health

By Dr Ruth Quinney

How well does our gut perform the function of extracting essential nutrients from our food intake?

Digestion of our food begins in the mouth, with saliva breaking up and softening the food we have just eaten. Good digestion starts with adequate chewing!

Next, the stomach: Stomach acid is essential for absorbing many/most of our essential minerals, such as Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium; also for absorbing Vitamin B12. Zinc is required for both the production of stomach acid and the production of the protective mucus lining of the stomach. People who take P.P.I. drugs such as Nexium & Pariet which stop the stomach producing acid, over the long term ultimately end up deficient in essential minerals and B12.

Zinc activates over 200 different enzymes in our body, so a healthy “YOU” starts with a health stomach that produces lots of stomach acid.

Our food bolus, on leaving the stomach, enters the duodenum where it is further digested by bile from the gall-bladder and pancreatic enzymes, including insulin. Insulin production also requires Zinc, plus 17 essential amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein) are required to make Insulin. Hence the importance, of a high protein diet with good stomach acid to obtain these amino acids from the proteins we eat.

Insulin release from the pancreas is stimulated by glucose and is dependent on Magnesium. Once again, we need good stomach acid to absorb Magnesium! Approximately 50% of the population is at risk of Magnesium deficiency in this country. Many pharmaceutical drugs deplete Magnesium from the body (by inhibiting absorption or by increasing excretion).

Further digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food occurs in the Small Intestine, so that by the time the food residue reaches the Large Intestine, (the Colon), water is the main nutrient extracted during transit through the colon.

A healthy gut is of paramount importance for optimal health. A healthy gut doesn’t “speak to you”. Symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, reflux, belching, abdominal pain, bloating, gurgling, wind, bowel motions that are not regular (in timing and in consistency) – is usually due to “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (IBS). IBS is caused by gut sensitivity to various undigested food components. The commonest foods we may react to are gluten & dairy.

Food Sensitivities has implications for successful weight loss and maintaining weight loss. When we experience a gut reaction to a particular food that we have eaten, this produces low-grade inflammation in the gut lining. This inflammation will produce a stress response, ie Cortisol (our stress hormone) is produced, and Cortisol in turn produces truncal weight gain.

In the “Reset phase” of our RFRW program, we teach you how to identify and manage any food sensitivities, providing you with the educational tools to re-evaluate your relationship with food, which then enables you to keep the weight “off” long term.