Inviting strangers into your home?
Inviting strangers into your home?
As you get older, you become less sensitive, less emotional, and less egocentric and it becomes easier to talk about things that really matter.
So, I’d like to talk about something important… Your bowels and gastrointestinal system. I’m sometimes amazed at what I see when I take a patient’s side-standing lumbar x-ray. Not only can you see the lumbar vertebrae, alignment of the spine, and lumbar disc spaces, but you can see the bowels. It’s amazing what I see on patients' x-ray, large, distended bowels, which bloats the stomach out.
Your bowels (small and large intestine) are about 9-15 ft. long and they are wound and packed into your abdomen. Imagine what happens when those bowels swell and distend due to multiple factors which we'll talk about in a minute.
I’m amazed at how much garbage and gas the bowels can hold. Research shows that the average person’s bowels can hold up to 7-10 pounds of fecal material. That’s a lot of garbage that nobody is taking out to the trash. People are eating their way to bigger and bigger bellies and their bowels are making the increased fat in their abdomen stick out even more. No wonder nobody tucks in their shirt anymore.
Let me explain why all that garbage is stuck in your intestines and what to do about it. When you think about it, your GI system is just the continuation of your skin. It’s the interface between your external skin (the skin you see) and your internal skin (the skin you don’t see). Food passes from our mouth to our esophagus, onto our stomach, then to the small and then large intestine, and from there, I think you know what happens. Well, research shows that the average American eats up to 60% processed foods. These proceeded foods are void of one of the most important things for your GI system, FIBER. The average American adult (kids are even worse) gets about 5-10 grams of fiber per day and research shows that we need about 35-50 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is SO important, it increases peristalsis, which is the natural movement within the bowels, hence the term “move your bowels”. No fiber - No movement. Fiber also feeds our microbiome, our naturally occurring pro-biotic gut bacteria that do so many things for our health from help digest our food, to help make vitamins for our body, to help aid in immune function, to help boost serotonin to aid in depression, and lastly they help reduce inflammation. Think of fiber as “weed and feed” for our gut. Many people take probiotics, but without healthy soluble and insoluble fiber, you are throwing seeds (probiotics) on bad soil (gut lining). Your gut lining, which is called your intestinal mucosa, is easily damaged and this can lead to “leaky gut syndrome” or “intestinal permeability" where proteins and molecules that should pass through the gut pass back into our bloodstream. This can trigger an auto-immune response in the body. Therefore, auto-immune diseases (over 100 of them) have risen dramatically in the past few decades. So, the moral of the story is to take better care of your bowels. If we cared as much about how the inside of our body looked as much as we did the outside, we would be much healthier people.
This is an important topic and so I’m going to talk in my next blog about how to care for your bowels and what to do if you have a bowel disorder such as IBS, constipation, Crohn’s disease, or leaky gut (auto-immune problems).
Remember, your bowels are the interface between your external world and your internal world. They stand guard at the gates of your health.
Best in Health,