Digestive Issues

Many people have issues with their digestive systems. Whether it’s Acid Reflux Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or something else in between; our bodies can easily get thrown out of whack. Getting it back under control, depending on how long it has been out of whack, can take time and lots of self-control. The human body is an amazing machine to me. It can repair itself from lots of different disorders and injuries, as long as we give it the right tools. Just like when we repair something that breaks in our home, like a leaky faucet, our bodies can only do the job right, if we have the right tools and parts. We can “make do” with duct tape or bubble gum, but the faucet won’t stay not leaking for long. As so many of us hear, from many sources, the proper diet can do SO much. Enough natural proteins, plenty of both soluble and insoluble fiber, a few carbohydrates, and natural sources of vitamins and minerals will give your body all the right tools to fix itself the right way.

Fiber is a dietary requirement that I personally don’t feel is stressed enough. I view the 2 types in a very simple way. The insoluble fiber is the fiber that when placed in water won’t change its shape or become gooey (fruits and veggies). I think of them as the broom, sweeping their way through my intestine getting all the gunk out of all the corners. The soluble fibers, of course, are the ones that do change shape in water (grains). I think of this type of fiber as the dust pan, collecting all the gunk together in one spot for easy removal. Amazingly enough, our teeth also have an effect on the cleanliness of our intestine. When our mouths are brushed, flossed, and a disinfecting rinse is used, that helps our colon stay clean and flushed properly as well. It has been studied by the American Dental Association and other companies. When I think about it though, it makes sense. When we chew our food, whatever yuck and bacteria may be on or in our teeth gets scrapped off, and pushed through our systems. When we have lots of bacteria growing in our mouths, our digestive system has to work a little harder to fight all the extra bacteria. And thus maybe not get the good stuff out of our food. Or the bacteria latches on somewhere in our intestine, and the current worry is, providing an environment that colon cancer thrives in.

Another one of the ways that might help with many digestive issues is Aloe Vera.  Just like we put aloe on our skin to help heal burns, cuts, and other wounds, we can put it inside us and it will do the same things.  Aloe is one of those great healing plants that really doesn’t have very many times where it might hurt you.  Of course if you are allergic or shouldn’t eat or drink you should not drink aloe.  If you are in question whether aloe would help, please seek the advice of a doctor.

You can purchase Aloe Vera by the quart or gallon.  Most natural health food stores carry it.  I even saw it near the pharmacy department of Walgreens.  When you add the cost of all the antacids (maalox, tums, prilosec, nexuim, and others) the $10 or $15 for a quart isn’t very much. My husband and I felt results within the first week of drinking it. After a month or so (when the quart we purchased was gone) neither of us had painful symptoms for nearly a year. (Results, of course will vary.)

When I drink it, I put one ounce in a small glass of fruit juice.  Aloe doesn’t taste very good and the juice helps mask the flavor.  You can put aloe in anything and it’ll not lose its efficacy.  As long as you drink every drop, you will get all the benefit.  Personally, I like to blend it with cran-grape juice.  The tartness of the juice is strong enough that I can’t taste the aloe as all.  My husband prefers apple juice.  I have not tried mixing it with soda or milk, and though I’m told it would still work, I don’t quite trust the taste of it.

Our stomachs are not very large organs, or at least they are not made to be. So I believe a big cause of many digestive issues is over eating. Our stomachs stretch to accommodate the food we eat, but like rubber balloons, they can only stretch so far. Any time you stress a part of your body often enough, your body will react and strengthen itself. In the case of your stomach, this means growing. If I remember correctly, a normal healthy stomach should be about the same size as your two fists side by side. Someone who regularly overeats can double or triple the normal size of a stomach. When the body makes the stomach bigger, it sometimes can’t get all of the stomachs parts to grow evenly. The part that maybe doesn’t grow or adjust at the same rate, is the one-way valves at each end. The valve that is supposed to prevent stomach acid from reaching the esophagus is called the cardiac valve. When the cardiac valve can’t close completely, acid gets through. Another thing that I suspect is a major culprit in weakening the cardiac valve is soda pop. Our bodies are made to burp and otherwise allow our stomachs to push what it doesn’t like back up through our mouths. But large or many burps might stretch out the valve to where it is unable to stay completely closed against the constant barrage of acid. I have not heard of any research to back these thoughts, but I guess they just make sense to me. There are many things that can help ease the pain and symptoms of acid reflux, but nothing, that I have learned of so far, can cure it. Cardiac valve surgery or allowing your stomach to shrink back down might help, but may not help enough.

As for the small and large intestines, I think that what helps one part helps them all. I make sure to drink enough hydrating fluids so that food can pass through smoothly. This is where high fiber foods do the most good. And last but not least, I try VERY hard to never hold my bowel movements back very long or push them out with force. When our bodies are healthy and functioning the way we are meant to function, everything should flow, regularly and smoothly.

If your digestive issues keep you up at night, try sleeping with your head raised a little above your belly. Or try sleeping on your left side, according to John Tesh’s radio show. This seems to make sense to me, because of the way our stomachs are shaped. Stomachs attach to the esophagus by widening like a balloon. They take up the majority of the space below the diaphragm on the left side of our body, and connecting to the small intestine almost at the center line of the body. So lying on the left side allows the acid and foods in your stomach rest and pool in the “pouch” where the natural stomach movements can push whatever is inside through in the correct direction.  Although, I have found that when I eat right before bed and sleep on my left side, it feels uncomfortable, like the food is trying to settle at the top of my stomach. So I sleep on my right side. But that may just all be in my head.

Please remember that my blogs ARE NOT meant to be diagnosing tools. If you have any digestive issue that lasts more than a few days, I think you should get the advice of a medical professional. I am not a doctor, and some of the thoughts I have mentioned in this blog have not been studied properly. Please seek the help of a doctor, and don’t consider me the expert.

That said; I hope that this helps some of you, and I wish you all good health.

P.S. Don’t forget to stretch!

Mary is a State Licensed and Nationally Certified Massage Therapist. She has experience with Energy Work, Myofascial Massage, Pressure Point Therapy, Reiki, Swedish Massage and Trigger Point Therapy. Mary works with clients of all ages, both male and female, in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

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