The Digestive Health Symphony

Have you ever thought about what it takes to turn those delicious morsels on your plate into the nutrients and energy your cells and body need to thrive? A magnificent symphony of organs and secretions and bacteria work in concert to digest, assimilate needed compounds, and eliminate the unnecessary ones. If any instrument in the symphony is out of tune, the whole system suffers.

Digestion actually begins with the eyes. The sight of food sends signals to the brain and gut to release ghrelin, a hormone that signals that it’s time to eat. As the smell of the food wafts through your nose, the scent, combined with the sight and the anticipation of the food can send signals to stimulate oral and gastric secretions in what’s known as the “cephalic phase response.”

As the food enters your mouth, your teeth help to break down the food into smaller pieces as it mixes with the secreted saliva. Saliva contains digestive enzymes such as salivary amylase, that begins to break down complex carbohydrates into smaller starches and sugars, and lingual lipase that begins to break down dietary fats.

Your tongue then guides the mixture of chewed food and saliva into the esophagus, where involuntary wave-like muscle contractions (called “peristalsis”) take over, guiding the balls of swallowed food into the stomach. As the food reaches the end of the esophagus, the ring-like muscle leading to the stomach relaxes and lets the food pass through into the stomach (a muscular reservoir of strong acid) before squeezing shut to prevent backflow.

In the stomach, the food is churned and mixed with acidic digestive juices and digestive enzymes such as pepsin, which help break proteins down into small fragments. The resultant acidic mix, called “chyme,” is slowly emptied into the small intestine, where the bulk of digestion occurs.

In the first part of the small intestine, the chyme is mixed with alkaline digestive juices and enzymes from the pancreas and liver that break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into their smallest components, and is pushed further forward by peristalsis. The walls of the small intestine absorb the digested nutrients and water into the bloodstream for distribution and use, while the intestinal smooth muscles continue to move the mixture along.

With digestion of usable nutrients now almost complete, the remaining mixture passes through the ileocecal valve into the large intestine, where water is extracted and the remaining residue (containing undigestible food, fluid, and older cells from the lining of the GI tract) is moved forward into the rectum for storage and elimination as stool. It is here in the large intestine that the largest bacterial ecosystem of the human body resides. These helpful bacteria have a number of important functions, including further breaking down food and harmful toxins, making vitamins and neurochemicals, supplying energy to the gut, protecting against pathogens, and “training” our immune system. Much is still being learned about the full functionality of the gut microbiome but a healthy population of gut bacteria is necessary for optimum health.

Fine-Tuning the Instruments

The process described above is how the system is supposed to work when all pieces and parts are functioning at their best. But what if they are not? Things can get out of whack, causing all kinds of issues. There are a number of actions we can undertake keep all parts of the system in “tune” and harmoniously working together:

  • Starting in the mouth, ingestion of digestive herbal bitters can stimulate saliva production and jump-start the whole digestive system to begin digestion of starches and fats. The herbs that make up digestive bitters also aid in stimulating secretion of gastric juices, hormones, and enzymes, which enhance efficient breakdown of food. As your healthcare practitioner whether PERQUE DigestivAide™ herbal bitters might be right for you.
  • The foods you choose can also impact your digestive health. Choose a wide variety of predominantly whole foods, preferably organically or biodynamically grown. Your focus should be on eating plant-based, what we call “life-ly” foods—including fresh vegetables and fruits, lightly toasted nuts and seeds, lightly steamed vegetables, sprouts of grains and beans, fermented foods, sea vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, freshly squeezed fruit juices, and vegetable juices. These foods retain active enzymes that enhance digestion.
  • Nurture your digestion. We recommend that you chew your food 15-20 times until liquid, and eat half of what you feel you need, then stop and take a few deep breaths to give your body a chance to register what it has eaten and whether you are full. The maxim is” Drink your solids and sip your liquids.”
  • Your lower esophageal sphincter — the muscle between the esophagus and stomach — benefits from vitamins B6, B12 and folate. A good way to get these B vitamins is through a lozenge dissolved under the tongue before swallowing. GERD and gastroesophageal reflux are typically reversed by this simple, natural approach.
  • Sometimes you may be allergic, reactive or intolerant to the foods and other chemicals to which you are exposed. Ask your healthcare practitioner about LRA by ELISA/ACT® tests to help you identify hidden sensitivities to a variety of foods and environmental chemicals.
  • The amino acid l-histidine is the source of stomach acidic protons. This amino acid is often deficient in people with acute or delayed allergies and can be helpfully supplemented, if needed. As your healthcare practitioner about the new PERQUE L-Histidine Guard™ and whether it may be right for you.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink ample amounts of water, vegetable broth, and other wet foods. Did you know that 50-75% of your body IS water? Every biological system in your body is dependent upon it. Water flushes toxins from vital organs, transports required nutrients to cells, regulates body temperature, and keeps tissues moist. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day; or more if you live in a dry environment, exercise or are ill. We must be active to move the fluids to where they need to go. Trager Mentastics, Feldenkrais Method, Alexander technique, and the Anat Baniel System are each recommended to relieve gravity and encourage somatic healing.
  • Remember those bacteria we mentioned in your gut? Taking antibiotics can kill off helpful bacteria, allowing the harmful bacteria to overgrow, causing diarrhea and a host of other gastrointestinal issues. The correct probiotic supplement can replace the “bad” bugs with beneficial bacteria, thereby improving digestion. It can also clear out dietary toxins such as pesticide residues, hormones in foods, and toxic metals like lead and mercury.* Check with your healthcare practitioner to see whether PERQUE Digesta Guard Forté 10™ may be right for you.
  • And those healthy bacteria need to eat! A unique combination of health-promoting prebiotic fibers can nourish the rapid growth of healthy, digestion-promoting bugs. Ample healthy bugs crowd out and prevent the growth of pathogenic “bad” bugs. Prebiotic fibers also bind toxins and accelerate their safer removal from the body.* Ask your healthcare practitioner whether PERQUE Regularity Guard™ may be right for you.
  • A helpful product for intestinal irritation from mechanical action, toxins, and the products of abnormal bacteria is PERQUE Endura/PAK Guard™ The l-glutamine and PAK this supplement help energize the intestine’s surface cells without raising glutamate.* Ask your healthcare practitioner whether it may be right for you.

A healthy digestive system truly is a symphony of organs and systems and enzymes and bacteria all working together in concert so you can thrive in the 21st Century. Healthy digestion today requires regular use of the digestive quintet of herbal bitters (PERQUE DigestiveAide™), prebiotic fiber (PERQUE Regularity Guard™) probiotic organisms (PERQUE Digesta Guard Forté 10™), symbiotic recycled glutamine (PERQUE Endura/PAK Guard™), and the amino acid l-histidine (PERQUE L-Histidine Guard™) for additional digestive support. Please do your part to help the symphony play in tune!

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Did you enjoy this post? We post new content regularly! Click here to see our latest blog posts and click here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.