The liver and gallbladder

As we have seen, digestive health is key to health. Stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes and baking soda are essential for healthy digestion and heart health. But the health of the entire digestive system also comprises two organs that have to be working pristinely for the whole digestive process to be effective. These are the liver and the gallbladder. They both assist in detoxification and digestion, especially the digestion of fats, which as we have seen are essential for heart health. They also can get overloaded because of the very important functions they have in the body.  Let us focus on the liver and gallbladder as we continue our journey through the digestive system.

The liver

Next to the heart and the brain, the liver is the most important and multifunctional structure in the body. It is the largest organ inside the body and it has a role to play in every single thing the body does. Any long term health challenge in the body will ultimately affect the liver and vice versa, an overloaded liver will affect the rest of the body. Because the liver is a key digestive organ, it is the jumping point between digestive health and other systems in the body (heart, brain, bones, muscles, etc). But the liver does a lot more than digest food. The liver:

  • Is a great detoxifier
  • Makes cholesterol
  • Makes bile

Because of this, the liver can get overworked very easily.

The liver and digestion

The liver is a digestive organ. After food is broken down in the stomach, it goes to the intestine where it is absorbed into the blood, from there it goes to the liver. Everything we eat has to be processed by the liver: fats, proteins, amino acids, glucose, fructose, etc. This means that the more we eat, and/or the more toxicity that comes to our body through food, the more work the liver has to do. Food additives, pesticides, insecticides, preservatives, antibiotics in food, alcohol, etc all of them have to be broken down by the liver. Which also means that the best way to give the liver a break is to change the way we eat: less refined carbohydrates, less processed food and caloric restriction will give the liver a break. Fasting regularly will also take a load off the liver so it has more resources to do its work. Other things like an imbalance in gut bacteria (Disbiosis) will also put a load on the body’s detoxification system. Taking care of the digestive system like we saw in our previous blog, will also take a load off the liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Something that is specially burdensome for the liver is sugar. Of the two major kinds of dietary sugars, glucose and fructose, fructose, is exclusively processed in the liver. White sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose, so it does not have processed by the liver completely. High fructose corn syrup is only fructose, which means it has more fructose than regular sugar, making high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fruits very problematic for the liver.

Since HFCS came out in the market in the late 70’s, there has been a rapid increase in the incidence of fatty liver disease. The average American is getting an around 80-90 pounds of HFCS every year, which has translated into 30 % of Americans suffering from fatty liver disease. According to a News Max Health article from January 2015 titled “Fatty liver disease: America’s silent epidemic””A major health crisis is emerging in our nation that is flying under the radar of even health-conscious Americans.” (1)

The problem with this is that human body is not equipped to process so much fructose. When it is overloaded this way, the liver starts forming fatty deposits that are known as ‘fatty liver disease’ or NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, now also called non-alcoholic cyato-hepatitis, NACH). The term ‘non-alcoholic’ points to the toxicity profile of fructose being similar to that of alcohol.

Fatty liver disease is hard to diagnose,  but because it has a blood sugar component to it, we can assume that any problem with diabetes or sugar metabolism, will predispose us to it. To diagnose it, doctors will first perform is a palpation test, then they will perform a biopsy. In my opinion, there is a lot we can do to take care of our liver before anything as serious as fatty liver occurs. By changing our diet and taking supplements like the ‘Liver Compound’ from Healthy Hearts Club, we can take care of many other health problems including heart disease. In addition, garlic, a key ingredient in the Heart and Body extract can have tremendous detoxifying properties for the liver. Being high in sulfur, garlic acts like a magnet to attract and ‘pull’ poisons out of cells so it makes it a great liver and body detoxifier.

The liver’s detoxification system

Apart from being a digestive organ, the liver is also a great detoxification organ. It is so effective at detoxifying that it can adjust and up regulate itself to the level of toxicity we subject it to. It accomplishes this by producing more enzymes when needed.  These enzymes break up all sorts of poisons the body produces like old hormones, (which is why menopausal women should pay close attention to the health of their liver), drugs, environmental poisons like chemicals, tobacco, etc.

Hepatitis

According to Web Md, in their article ‘Hep C now leading U.S. infectious disease killer’, “The number of hepatitis C-linked deaths in the United States reached a record high in 2014, and the virus now kills more Americans than any other infectious disease, health officials report.” (2)

There is hepatitis A, B, C and D, of which C is acute hepatitis. In all cases, liver enzymes are elevated, which is a manifestation of liver cells exploding, dying and releasing their enzymes into the blood stream. Hepatitis can be considered as liver inflammation caused by various sources like viruses, alcohol, drugs, toxins. In any case, they all point to an overtaxed liver that cannot do its job.  In practical terms, it doesn’t even matter where the virus comes from, what matters is that the liver can be strengthened so it can take care of viruses. This is where we have control. Liver inflammation increases with age, but this doesn’t mean we cannot do something about it. We can start changing our diet and use supplements like the ‘Liver Compound Extract’ and the ‘Heart and Body Extract’

A major role of the liver is to make cholesterol. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride in her book “Put your heart in your mouth”, cholesterol has such a key role to play in the body that it doesn’t need to come from food, the liver can manufacture it by itself. When organs like the brain or the adrenals need cholesterol to perform their functions, they signal the liver to produce more cholesterol. This is so important to understand, in my opinion. First of all, the brain is mainly cholesterol, therefore it is, to put it in Dr. Natasha’s words ‘like a sponge for cholesterol’. She mentions studies where patients on a low cholesterol diet displayed increased aggressive behavior. Similarly, people on cholesterol lowering drugs show to have a similar change in personality, as well as increased anxiety. Secondly, the adrenals, which are our stress management organ, need cholesterol to produce hormones that help us handle stress and repair the body in times of stress. What this means is that in stressful situations, our body will be in more need of cholesterol. In the case of surgery, for example, it is normal to find higher levels of blood cholesterol, she explains, which the body uses for healing and repair. Cholesterol is so tightly regulated by the body that there is no need to artificially manage it. A balanced diet high in healthy fats and low in refined carbohydrates will naturally lower cholesterol levels. This points to another factor, sugar is perceived by the body as a stress, which means a diet high sugar diet increases cholesterol.

Liver problems will also affect bile production because the liver makes bile, although it is the gallbladder that makes most of the bile in the body.

Bile

Bile is our biological soap, it frees up fatty acids from foods: fatty vitamins, phytonutrients like lutein, beta carotene, zeathantin, flavonoids and all the 100 different carotenes found in vegetables. Bile is held in the gallbladder, and it is important to remember that it is made out of cholesterol. A cholesterol lowering drug will shut down bile production, which is why the most common side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs are digestive disorders like nausea, diarrhea, constipation, loose stools, etc.

Bile in digestion

After food leaves the stomach, a little valve connecting the stomach to the intestine opens up and releases bile from the gallbladder into the intestine. This bile helps remove all the fatty substances out of the food.  Bile also prepares the way for digestive enzymes in the pancreas to do their work. So bile passes through the pancreas, where the digestive juices released by the pancreas are mixed with bile, and this works on food further. Without the gallbladder releasing bile the pancreas is not going to be able to release pancreatic enzymes either and food is going to sit there, enzymes then will back up, causing pancreatic problems like pancreatitis.

Like an engine cleaner

When bile works properly, after it has been used in digestion, it goes back into the intestine and gets absorbed by the liver. It does a big circle and goes back into the intestine, then the liver again. It does this big circular movement several times until it has cleaned itself, cleaning out the intestine and the liver as well. In this fashion, the bile that is cleaned can be recycled for further use. A little of this bile, together with waste is not recycled but goes to the large intestine to be eliminated in the stool by the action of fiber. This is how toxins that are fatty or tend to accumulate in the fatty part of the body (heavy metals, old hormones, excess estrogen, etc) get eliminated out of the body. This two-way system makes sure bile is used not only to digest fats but also to remove toxins.

Garlic and bile

The element that accounts for bile amazing detoxification properties is sulfur. Sulfur is a highly electrical compound that makes fats more soluble, it magnetically attracts (chelates) toxins, heavy metals, viruses and microbes. Sulfur is needed to make bile. This makes the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ a great product for detoxifying the bile system. Garlic is also a great source of cysteine, which is part of the powerful tri peptide antioxidant molecule known as glutathione. (3)

In addition, insulin chemistry depends on sulfur, the more insulin the body is using, the more sulfur it needs. Diabetics would be wise to use it.

Gallstones

An overloaded, toxic body will put a load on the bile system, making bile sticky and unable to flow properly. This will cause the little stones known as ‘gallstones’ to clog up the tiny tubes in the gallbladder and keep bile from flowing when it is needed to digest fats. It will also cause the pancreas to not have access to bile, which will cause pancreatic insufficiency. An average of 20 million Americans have gallstones. They are not a reason to have your gallbladder taken out, even though they can be very painful. We can prevent this from happening by taking care of our bile system: Avoiding the wrong kinds of foods, food toxins, heavy metals, drugs, etc and supplementing with the ‘Heart and body Extract’, lecithin, enzymes, bile salts, and bile stimulating foods like stomach bitters at the beginning of a meal. Fasting can give your whole digestive system a break, and allow the body to save energy to keep the digestive system working better.

Gallstones and cholesterol

Under ordinary circumstances cholesterol is dissolved in bile, but if our cells are making too much cholesterol because of a diet high in processed carbohydrates, or you have sticky bile because of too many toxins accumulating, then cholesterol can precipitate out as crystals by coming out of the bile solution causing gallstones.

Cholesterol and lecithin

Lecithin is a fundamental structure found throughout nature, it is in all plants and animal cells. Lecithin is also found in the human body as a active ingredient of bile. If you have digestive problems associated with the gallbladder, if you have had your gallbladder removed or are menopausal, or have any of the other digestive problems we have discussed before, you can benefit by supplementing with lecithin. A sign that fats are not being absorbed is a skin condition known as ‘millia’ or ‘keratosis’ which are little ‘bumps’ on the face or arms. Even adult acne can be a sign of fat mal-absorption. These little bumps are telling you your heart is at risk.

Lecithin has a cholesterol dissolving effect that can be used to prevent heart disease by keeping blood fats and cholesterol dissolved. It can dissolve fatty deposits in atherosclerotic plaques, as well as detoxifying the body by assisting the gallbladder and help us absorb fats.

Lecithin is also a very important component of the cell membrane, so it can keep all the cells in our body healthy.

Bile and good bacteria

As important as we have seen the digestive system is, gut bacteria could be called the core of the digestive system, where everything starts. According to the research done by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, the whole universe of bacteria living in our gut accounts for 90% of the human body, with the remaining 10% being us, just a host to these bacteria. The bacteria in our gut is where the entire digestive process comes full circle. In this sense, there is an important relation between bile and gut bacteria. First, gut bacteria cleans the bile, processes it and turns it into hormones. Second, gut bacteria activates bile and turns it into active chemicals. This modified bile protects the intestine from inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. and helps support the health of the micro biome in return. In other words, the gut bacteria activates the bile and the bile, in return makes the bacteria healthy. This inter-dependency and inter-connectedness shows once more how everything in the body works together. Everything has a purpose and everything is affected by everything else. This is why it the idea that we can remove organs without health implications, goes against the wisdom of the body.

This means that our beneficial gut bacteria also take part in the digestive process by activating the bile as it does its big circle: from the liver to the gallbladder, to the intestine, to the food, then through the intestine and up into the liver again.

Bile, cholesterol and fiber

The old bile that didn’t get recycled, together with toxins and excess cholesterol are excreted out of the body by the action of fiber. Fiber has a magnetic effect on bile and cholesterol, it sticks to them and as the fiber is leaving the body it pulls the bile and cholesterol. It is the way the body lowers cholesterol without the need of manipulating it artificially. The more fiber you take, the more efficient this clearing process is going to be. Fiber then becomes a very important part of our health as well.

The intestine, bile, probiotics and fiber are responsible for clearing out estrogen. Women produce more estrogen than men, which makes them more prone to auto-immune diseases. If they are on the birth control pill or Hormone Replacement Therapy, they are loading their body with extra estrogen. In this case, it is more critical to take care of the whole digestive system. Fiber can be obtained by making your own vegetable juices at home or by grinding flax or chia seeds.

Lastly, bile is also important for the digestion of calcium and other minerals and vitamin D. In an article from US pharmacist, it is stated that “overuse of PPIs in hospitalized patients makes bile more toxic”. (4)

How the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ can help. Kelp and the digestive system

Kelp is a wonderful food that can support the digestive system, the immune system and help with pain and inflammation. It is one of the most well researched substances in all of biology. It is technically known as a ‘sulfated polysacharide’, which means that it is made out of little chunks of simple sugars (not the same as refined white sugar) with a sulfur molecule added. What makes these polysaccharides so special is their ability to trap electrical energy. Because sulfur acts as an electrical igniter, the added sulfur, activates these polysacharides even more.  You can find kelp as an ingredient in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’

All this journey through the digestive system has hopefully taught us that the whole process of digestion requires hard work from our body and a lot of energy is spent making sure all the different steps work efficiently. Next time we eat a meal, we can be more appreciative and understanding of our hard working digestive system.

Thanks for reading.

References:

(1) http://www.newsmax.com/health/Headline/fatty-liver-disease-nonalcoholic-steatohepatitis-epidemic/2015/01/04/id/616329/

(2)  http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/news/20160504/hepatitis-c-now-leading-infectious-disease-killer-in-us

(3)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cysteine

(4) https://www.uspharmacist.com/search/?q=PPI%20users

Is it your heart or is it heartburn?

When it comes to the health of our heart most of us might assume that by focusing on our heart it is enough to keep it healthy. But the work of many health care professionals points to the fact that we need to change the environment of the whole body so the heart can be restored to health. This is the case of Dr. Bernard Jensen. His many years of experience working with patients confirm this fact. He saw the body as a “community of organs, glands and tissues each one either helping or hindering all the others. In his book “Developing a new heart” Dr. Jensen recalls how for over 60 years he revealed to his patients the ‘secrets of the heart’ by teaching them that to reverse or prevent cardiovascular disease one has to take care of the “99% of the body surrounding the heart as well as the heart itself”. Disease, he explained, “always involves …. not only the organ mainly affected by the disease, but every other part of the body as well…To take care of the heart, we have to feed the whole body…strengthen all the glands, organs, systems and tissues that support the heart.”

The products at Healthy Hearts Club are created with this idea in mind. Not only they target the whole body, but by being liquid they bypass any digestive problems we might have. All of the products work together to keep the whole body healthy so the heart can function properly.

In today’s blog we will focus on digestive health. Most people after the age of 50 have digestive problems.  What is more, in just  a few years there seems to be an increasing incidence of digestive disorders. This is the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) for example. According to a News Max Health article from January 2015 titled “Fatty liver disease: America’s silent epidemic”, in only 20 years the incidence of fatty liver disease has doubled. (1)

In addition, according to Web Md, more than 60 million Americans suffer from a burning sensation in the chest known as heartburn at least once a month. Also, between 25 and 45 million Americans deal with a condition known as ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ (2) Most people  live with these conditions not knowing that when left untreated they can lead to serious health consequences that put a burden in the heart. As we will detail in this article, a healthy digestive system is key to health. Digestive organs like the liver are key to the health of our heart.

What is most important to understand is that all inflammatory diseases have a digestive component. If you have a history of chronic indigestion, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, gastritis, liver problems, pancreatitis, gallstones, etc or you do not have any of these but you don’t feel as good as you would like, I want to invite you to keep reading.

Like a car wash

Understanding the digestive process is key to taking control of our health. It might sound complicated, but if we compare our digestion to a car wash tunnel that ‘squirts’ different soaps in a timely and orderly fashion, we can begin to understand it better. Like in a car wash, the different digestive organs secrete substances like acid, baking soda, bile and enzymes in a step by step fashion. Each step in digestion has to work properly and fully for the next step to be efficient. When a step is missing or is uncomplete, the whole digestive process will be halted, affecting the subsequent steps. This will cause two major issues:

  • Mal absorption of key nutrients.
  • Undigested food will initiate an immune reaction in the digestive system first and in the general circulation second, thickening our blood and preventing proper blood circulation.

One step at a time

Digestion starts in the mouth, where the act of chewing and saliva break down food into smaller particles. Saliva has enzymes that are very similar to those of the pancreas. Chewing food properly is important to improve digestion and reducing the work the pancreas will have to do later on. When food reaches our stomach, the stomach enzyme pepsin and hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach are released and this turns food into an acid mash called ‘chyme‘. This acid breaks down food in the stomach, but it is also necessary for the next step in digestion to signal the pancreas to release sodium bicarbonate. When this acid drenched food from the stomach comes in contact with the alkaline pH of the pancreas, this acid-alkaline combination creates a fizzing reaction (think vinegar and baking soda mixing This fizzing reaction is KEY to the digestive process. By means of this fizzing reaction, nutrients are removed out of food and food moves through the digestive system quickly and efficiently. At this point in digestion there are two scenarios that could go wrong. One is hypochlorhydria, low stomach acid. The other is pancreatic insufficiency. Both of these will have tremendous consequences for overall health.

When digestion ‘goes sour’. Low stomach acid

Stomach acid is the first step in digestion that is necessary for the subsequent steps in digestion to work efficiently. Low stomach acid will affect the rest of the  steps in digestion in different ways:

The enzymes in the pancreas, as opposed to those in the stomach that need an acid pH (low pH), only work in an alkaline ph (high pH). To neutralize this acidity coming from the stomach, the pancreas needs sodium bicarbonate.  However, low or no stomach acid, a very common condition known as hypochlorhydria, will keep the pancreas from releasing sodium bicarbonate. No stomach acid means no sodium bicarbonate is released. No sodium bicarbonate means pancreatic enzymes cannot be activated.  No pancreatic enzymes means no fizzing reaction, no fizzing reaction means food cannot be broken down further.

The consequences of this can be numerous:

  • The precious nutrients found in vegetables, many of which are anti-inflammatory and precursors to vitamins, will not be processed.
  • Mineral absorption is going to be compromised with low stomach acid, especially calcium. If calcium cannot be dissolved and reach the cells where it does its work, this undigested calcium is going to accumulate in the tissues, glands, even in cholesterol deposits in the arteries, running high risks of calcification of the heart, brain and soft tissue.
  • Absorption of fat soluble vitamins D, E, A and K will be compromised too because they all require stomach acid.
  • The B vitamins, so essential for heart health will not be absorbed either. Vitamin B 12, B 6 and folic acid, which keep the heart toxin homocysteine from accumulating in the body, will not be digested.
  • Stomach acid is involved in the activation of digestive enzymes, especially the ones that digest protein. This means that high protein foods like meat, eggs and dairy will stay undigested causing an allergic/immune reaction.  These undigested pieces of food will increase the odds of clotting in the blood, the liver and kidneys can filter some of this but with time they will get clogged too. Once the liver is overloaded the rest of the body will be affected, leading to many health problems including high BP. The kidneys will be affected too because they have to filter the blood. The ‘Kidney/Bladder Extract’ and ‘Liver Support Compound’ will be a great addition to your health protocol.

If you feel you are never satisfied after eating, you might be having mal absorption issues. Stomach acid secretion can be improved with stomach bitters before meals, herbs like peppermint, and apple cider vinegar with all meals. Apple cider vinegar is a good source of minerals specially potassium for the heart. The cayenne in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ is a good digestive tonic, and the ‘Kidney/Bladder Extract’ will help your kidneys work more efficiently.

Pancreatic insufficiency

If the pancreas is stressed from making too much insulin or if you are using up your enzymes to digest a highly processed diet, this is also going to mean less ‘fizzing reaction’,  which means nutrients are not going to be broken down further and be absorbed as efficiently. Not only this, the whole pH of the body is maintained by pancreatic bicarbonate. Without enough bicarbonate the entire acid-alkaline balance in the body is thrown off. In the digestive system, without enough sodium bicarbonate this acid drenched food coming from the stomach is not going to be neutralized, but more critically, it is not going to activate the pancreatic enzymes tripsin and chemotripsin. The other enzymes produced by the pancreas, lipase and sucrase also need high ph to be activated. What are the health implications of either one of these two scenarios, low stomach acid and/or pancreatic insufficiency?

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Food that cannot be broken down is going to sit around, become stagnant in the small intestine and become feeding ground for bacteria.  This rotting, fermenting,  putrifying food secondary to low pancreatic juices is going to invite bacteria to grow out of control, a condition known as SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). The health implications of SIBO are immense: these bacteria growing in the intestine will start releasing gases, which are going to activate an immune response in the digestive tract. This can translate into GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) commonly known as heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease, gas, bloating, burping, ulcerative colitis and leaky gut syndrome.

According to Amy Nett MD in her article “SIBO- What causes it and why it is so hard to treat”   ‘SIBO has been shown to negatively affect both the structure and function of the small bowel. It may significantly interfere with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, primarily by damaging the cells lining the small bowel (the mucosa). Additionally, this damage to the small bowel mucosa can lead to leaky gut (when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, allowing large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream), which is known to have a number of potential complications including immune reactions that cause food allergies or sensitivities, generalized inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. These pathogenic bacteria, …, can lead to nutritional deficiencies on top of those due to poor digestion or absorption. In particular, the bacteria will take up certain B vitamins, such as vitamin B 12, before our own cells have a chance to absorb these important nutrients. They may also consume some of the amino acids, or protein, that we’ve ingested, which can lead to both mild protein deficiency and an increase in ammonia production by certain bacteria. (We normally produce some ammonia daily from normal metabolism, but ammonia requires detoxification, so this may add to an already burdened detoxification system.) The bacteria may also decrease fat absorption through their effect on bile acids, leading to deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins like A and D.’ (3)

Among the causes of SIBO, she mentions: Low stomach acid, celiac disease (long-standing),  prior bowel surgery, diabetes mellitus (type I and type II), multiple courses of antibiotics, organ system dysfunction, such as liver cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, renal failure, excessive alcohol consumption and oral contraceptives.

Since SIBO can be hard to diagnose, how can we know if we have it? She mentions the symptoms that can give us a clue are: Abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating and abdominal distention, diarrhea, constipation, gas and belching. In more severe cases, there may be weight loss and symptoms related to vitamin deficiencies. Antibiotics are normally the prescription used to treat SIBO but ironically they make things worse by killing the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

According to Benjamin Fuchs R Ph, there are other possible triggers for SIBO: Fructose mal absorption, diverticulitis, scleroderma (an immune condition that affects the intestinal muscles), intestinal scarring, adhesions, etc. But according to him, there is no trigger that is more important than pancreatic insufficiency. He quotes a text titled ‘Clinical nutrition in gastro-intestinal disease’ where it is stated that pancreatic insufficiency and SIBO are the two most important common categories of mal digestion. This means that if we are dealing with any kind of digestive problem the chances are very high it has something to do with the pancreas and SIBO. If you have any of the symptoms of SIBO like chronic heartburn, diarrhea, gas, burping, IBS, bloating 1-3 hours after eating, many other side effects are possible because these bacteria produce toxic gases that can affect the brain. The methane breath test can measure the presence of these bacteria where hydrogen and methane are found present at high levels. Memory issues, dementias,  learning disabilities, brain fog, inflammation, aggressive behavior, etc are all possible with SIBO according to the research of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride in her book “Gut and psychology syndrome”. Her deep research in the importance of beneficial bacteria shows that low stomach acid can create changes in the intestinal environment too, in the large and small intestine. Usually the bacteria in the intestine are held in check by stomach acid, but under conditions of low stomach acid this bacteria can grow out of control. They will create problems with sugar metabolism, because these bacteria ‘love’ sugar, they will create sugar cravings in the sufferer, which will ‘feed’ the problem even more. If your diet is high on refined carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, and high in meat and animal products, which require heavy duty pancreatic processing, these two factors are going to compound, creating  more growth medium for bacteria, lots of putrefying food sitting in the intestine and this is big trouble.

One of the most problematic issues related to SIBO is fructose, also called ‘fructose mal absorption syndrome’, which means that fructose is not being absorbed properly, so it is sitting around in the intestine along with protein and other sugars we are eating causing excessive bacterial proliferation. The signs of fructose mal absorption syndrome are exactly the same as for SIBO: gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, etc. Fructose mal absorption issues affect 30% of Americans. One of the worst effects of fructose mal absorption is deficiencies in the super amino acid tryptophan. Fructose keeps this important aminoacid from reaching the brain. Because tryptophan is the building block of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the brain’s most important anti-anxiety nutrient, the result is going to be depression, anxiety, problems sleeping, etc. Fructose mal absorption is also associated with zinc deficiency, and because there are so many  enzymes that depend on zinc, all this is going to compromise health even more.

One of the most common signs of SIBO is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), you can think of it as common heartburn. Anti acid drugs like PPI inhibitors will only exacerbate this bacterial issue, because these drugs reduce acid in the stomach, which is what caused the bacterial overgrowth in the first place. According to an article published in the ‘Journal of gastroenterology and Hepatology’, SIBO occurs more frequently among long term users of nexium and PPI users.

What can we do?

Millions of people have leaky gut without knowing it. The main reason for it being so hard to detect is that digestive symptoms will not show up until you have a full blown immune disease. By the time digestive problems show up as a skin condition, rheumatoid arthritis or hypothyroidism, most people do not see the connection to the gut. Therefore, the digestive condition never gets addressed, only the symptoms. This is why its best to assume we all have a leaky gut to some extent, which is what can be expected from living in the 20th century.

To take the load off of the pancreas, baking soda can be dissolved in water 2 hours after eating.  Dr. Sircus recommends to “Dissolve a level teaspoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda in a tumbler of cool water and take one to two hours after meals. For a tonic form, about one-quarter teaspoonful before meals.” (4) Also, avoiding mixing starches and meats together. The garlic in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ will help you with SIBO because of its antibacterial properties.

Benjamin Fuchs R Ph recommends to eliminate problematic foods, using foods that soothe the digestive system like bone soup, aloe vera, zinc picolinate for healing (50 mgs/day) glutamine powder, enzyme rich foods like raw vegetable juices and sprouts, probiotics and digestive enzymes.

The hard working pancreas

The pancreas is a key organ in the digestive system. The fact that pancreatic  cancer is one of the most aggressive types of cancers there are, with the lowest percentage of survival rate, attests to this fact. What makes the pancreas so critical is the important roles this organ has in digestion and overall health:

  • First of all, the pancreas is an enzyme factory. It specializes in enzymes that break up protein, fats and sugars. Defective secretion of digestive enzymes can lead to mal absorption of nutrients.
  • Secondly, the pancreas is a source of digestive peptides, which are messenger molecules that have the important job of communicating to the pancreas the arrival of food in the intestine. When this message is sent, the pancreas then is stimulated to secrete its digestive juices and enzymes into the intestine to help continue the work of digesting the food that left the stomach.
  • Thirdly, the pancreas has the crucial job of making insulin. Up to 30% of diabetics are found to be dealing with pancreatic insufficiencies due to the fact that their pancreas is working overtime to make insulin. This can overload this organ in such a way that it cannot make enough enzymes to break down food, compromising the whole digestive system. For this reason, many healthcare professionals recommend supplementing with pancreatic enzymes when this is the case. Diabetics, or people suffering from pancreatitis, pancreatic insufficiency, or just pancreatic fatigue would benefit greatly from this. Pancreatic insufficiency is generally hard to diagnose because there are no signs until the condition is serious enough to cause disease.
  • Fourthly, the pancreas has the very important job of making sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Without it, digestion and absorption of nutrients will be greatly affected.

Protein digesting enzymes

Our pancreas makes several very important enzymes. The enzymes that digest protein are  known as ‘tripsin’ and ‘chemotrypsin’. ‘Lipase’ breaks fats and ‘sucrase’ breaks down sugars. People with pancreatic insufficiency will not be making enough of the protein digesting enzymes, therefore they run the risk of being deficient in protein. Without protein their diet cannot access amino acids and other essential nutrients for the heart. This can lead to mal nutrition, which can lead to fatigue, which can put a load on the heart.

What is more, undigested protein will cause an immune reaction in the body, starting the  inflammatory process that can go on undetected for years until a full blown immune condition shows up. This immune condition can show up anywhere in the body: joints, skin, glands, etc. By the time it shows up somewhere else, these conditions seem to be unrelated to the root cause: a broken digestive system. This is the reason why many times it is hard to make the connection between something like psoriasis for example and digestive disorders.

Auto-immune diseases like those affecting the thyroid can result and because the thyroid regulates everything else in the body, every disease is possible, including cancer and heart disease. According to the classical medical book on thyroid disease “Werner and Ingbar’s The Thyroid: A Fundamental and Clinical Text”, one third of patients with thyroid immune disease have problems with deficiencies in stomach acid.

Mal absorption of vitamin B 12 can be another cause of pancreatic insufficiency. Taking into account that low levels of B 12 is a contributing factor for the accumulation of the heart toxin homocysteine, this makes digestive problems a direct contributor to heart disease. Pancreatic insufficiency will not only lead to mal absorption of key nutrients like B 12, but B 12 deficiency can be a direct cause of pancreatic insufficiency. In the book “Could It be B 12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses” the author Sally M. Pacholok discusses how B 12 deficiency is a hidden epidemic.

Cystic fibrosis

Pancreatic enzymes are an FDA approved prescription drug for cystic fibrosis, a generic congenital disease that affects the pancreas. In their article  ‘Enzyme Replacement Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis’ (5), Web Md explains how this is used. And in their article “How Cystic Fibrosis Affects Digestion and the Pancreas’ it is stated that ‘In cystic fibrosis, mucus clogs the pancreas, and digestive enzymes are not able to get to the intestine. So food is not properly digested, particularly fats and proteins. A related symptom is large, greasy, smelly stools.” (6)

Since pancreatic insufficiency is hard to diagnose and can have fatal consequences, we would all be wise to start helping our pancreas on a daily basis. We do not have to wait to have any pancreatic disease like cystic fibrosis, or even mild pancreatic fatigue. Enzymes can be obtained at any health food store and taken with every meal.  Pancreatic insufficiency can cause a type of diabetes that doctors call type 3 diabetes, consequently, this would be specially important for diabetics. But even candida,  skin diseases like psoriasis, rosacea, ezcema, and any auto-immune disease can be reversed by taking care of the digestive system.

Raw food

Edward Howell in his book “Enzyme nutrition” defines enzymes (also called ‘catalysts’) as ‘proteins that improve and speed up chemical reactions without being affected themselves’. He explains that in the body nothing happens without the work of enzymes: nerves cannot fire, muscles cannot contract, etc. This makes enzymes a very important part of our health. He stressed the fact that diets low in raw foods can actually put a load on our pancreas, forcing this organ to use up precious enzymes it needs to repair the body to digest food instead. He observed that animals living in the wild do not have the degenerative diseases humans have because their diet is mainly based on raw foods. By incorporating some raw food in our diet we can have access to the live enzymes in those foods and thus we can help our pancreas conserve its enzymes.

Enzyme inhibiting compounds

Foods like seeds, grains and beans have ‘enzyme inhibiting compounds’ that can inhibit the activity of tripsin and chemotrypsin. These compounds have the purpose of keeping the seeds asleep until they sprout. Tofu, soy beans and all its derivatives (soy milk, soy protein powder, etc.) can therefore be problematic if you have enzyme deficiency. Sprouting seeds, on the other hand, turns off these enzymes inhibitors and turns on the enzymes. This makes sprouts a very important food for people with pancreatic insufficiencies and digestive problems in general.

Enzymes and inflammation

Something important about these protein digesting enzymes is their anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation involves the formation of protein complexes, protein dissolving enzymes like tripsin and chemotripsin become a very important anti-inflammatory strategy without the side effects that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can have (NSAID). By adding these pancreatic enzymes to our diet, specially on an empty stomach, they can ‘eat up’ the protein covering these inflammatory complexes circulating in our blood have.  This can be very important in the case of extreme inflammation, like surgery. In a study published in the ‘Journal  of Medicine’ in 1967, chemotrypsin was given to patients undergoing invasive surgery four times a day. The results were impressive, the swelling was a third of the inflammation normally expected and the speed of recovery was dramatically faster after the surgery. Diabetics, people with pancreatic insufficiency, leaky gut and/or inflammation can benefit from supplementing with enzymes and eating raw foods.

Inflammation and cell death

Most of our immune system is located in the digestive system, this means that our digestive system is capable of starting an immune reaction by itself. Undigested food, from low stomach acid or pancreatic insufficiency will ultimately lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut is the jumping point between the digestive system and the general circulation. It will cause this undigested food to end up in the blood where another immune response will be initiated. Since these particles of undigested food do not belong in the blood, the immune system will send its ‘scouts’ to try to destroy these foreign invaders. It does that by surrounding these particles with immune complexes called ‘circulating immune complexes’ (CIC’s) . These CIC’s are like time bombs because at any moment they can explode, releasing their own toxins into the blood. This again, will initiate an immune response, becoming the chronic influx of toxins, immunity and inflammation we know of as ‘micro-inflammation‘. All these toxins and immune complexes will end up thickening the blood, making it sludgy and prone to clot, affecting our heart directly because now it has to pump harder. The liver and kidneys can get clogged if too much of this inflammation is going on, which will ultimately put another burden on the heart. Impaired circulation will also keep the cells in our body from receiving the nutrition and oxygen they need and keep them from detoxifying themselves. Whether it is a heart cell, a muscle cell, a brain cell, a liver cell, a kidney cell, etc, a sick, starved, suffocated cell that is swimming in its own waste will not be able to do its job. This will cause these cells to die, which will cause more immunity, more inflammation and more circulatory problems. The problem with all this chronic micro-inflammation is that it might go on for years or decades undetected, until it shows up as something very serious. Taking into account leaky gut is so hard to diagnose, everybody should assume they have a leaky gut, just from living in the 20th century, where taking care of our body properly is not always possible. Why wait for something to happen? We can start taking care of our digestive system and circulation now.  Correcting any digestive issues and taking care of our circulation with the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and ‘Kidney/Bladder Extract’ can make all the difference when it comes to our health.

The nervous system and digestion

The nervous system can be divided into:

  • Involuntary nervous system, also called ‘autonomic’, ‘automatic’ or ‘parasympathetic’. This is where things like breathing, heart beat, digestion, etc belong. It is also called ‘rest and digest nervous system’ for a reason. Like the name says, it allows your body to digest food and to rest and repair itself.
  • The voluntary nervous system. Also known as ‘fight or flight’ or ‘sympathetic nervous system’. Contrary to the ‘rest and digest nervous system’, the ‘fight or flight nervous system’ is activated when we are in a stressful situation. What is significant about this nervous system is that when it gets activated, it shuts down the ‘rest and digest nervous system’ and consequently digestion and stomach acid production. Due to our stressful lives, most of us are shutting down digestion, rest, and repair. The logic is that when our body perceives stress, it thinks life is at stake so it focuses on  ‘fight or flight’ and shuts down rest, digestion and repair. Stress can then be said to be a cause of heartburn and other digestive disorders. There are nervous systems receptors located in the nostrils, which is why many health professionals recommend to relax and breath deep before meals. Dr. Edward Group, in his article ‘Why do people gain weight?’ asserts: ‘Eating in a parasympathetic state is perhaps the best way to consume any type of food in order to promote proper digestion and weight loss.’ (7)

Heartburn and the importance of stomach acid

According to Web Md, “Heartburn or acid reflux symptoms include chronic cough and chest pain and burning.” (6). Heartburn  can become  a serious condition when not treated properly and can lead to more serious health problems like damaged esophagus and even esophageal cancer.

Dr. Jonathan V Wright in his book ‘Why stomach acid is good for you’ explains that in most cases we make too little stomach acid, especially as we age. He asserts that despite the importance of stomach acid, many people believe their problem is that they make too much stomach acid and this causes their acid reflux or heartburn. But his experience with many patients has shown him that in most cases it is low stomach acid, not too much stomach acid,  that causes all the digestive distress associated with heartburn to begin with. He has treated many patients and when he explains to them this fact, they ask ‘how can low stomach acid cause heartburn?’ You can listen to his explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1BqKy_U5S0. In this video and others, he explains that the valve that connects the esophagus with the stomach, called ‘lower esophageal sphincter’ (LES) is pH sensitive, it needs a low pH (acid) to close up and thus keep acid from splashing back up. If we do not make enough stomach acid, this muscle cannot close,  allowing acid to splash back upwards.

Similarly, according to Benjamin Fuchs R PH, acid reflux is not an acid issue but a muscle issue, caused by a weak sphincter that allows acid to go back up.  He asserts that probiotics can have a beneficial effect on GERD, mastic gum, DGL (licorice) and acidifying the stomach.

Heartburn is then a classic sign of low stomach acid, but also many other digestive discomforts. According to the ‘National Institute of Diabetes, Kidney and Digestive Diseases’, 60 million people experience heartburn once a month and 25 million treat this condition with anti-acid medications. This is alarming because as we have seen, stomach acid is essential for the absorption of nutrients. In an article published in Web Md titled “How Popular Heartburn Drug Might Harm Arteries”  heartburn has a possible link to damaged arteries. (8) According to this article:  “Studies have shown increased risk of heart disease in people who use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — the class of heartburn medication that includes Nexium, said study senior author Dr. John Cooke.”

What is more, according to an article published in ‘Journal of gastroenterology and Hepatology’, SIBO occurs more frequently among long term users of anti-acid drugs.

H. Pilori and stomach acid

Stomach acid is not only important for the digestive process, it also protects the body from microbes, bacteria, fungus and yeasts that can get into the body through food. If you are not making enough stomach acid, these organisms can get into the small intestine and from there to the blood, tissues and organs. This is the case of gastritis, an infection caused by a bacteria called H. Pilori. This bacteria once it is in the stomach attacks the cells that make stomach acid, the parietal cells. (9)

Dr. Jonathan Wright explains that gastritis will cause a decline in stomach acid production. This infection has become a common culprit in many digestive diseases these days, especially those that involve the upper part of the intestine and the stomach: ulcers, gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers and gastritis.

As in the case of SIBO, the garlic and cayenne in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ can keep any bacterial or virus under control.

To sum up, digestive disorders are becoming more and more prevalent these days. Whether it is a clear case of digestive disease like heartburn, pancreatitis, etc, or whether it is something under the radar, we can all benefit from improving our digestion. By doing so we will be helping our heart work more efficiently. All the products at ‘Healthy Hearts Club’ are created to not only assist digestion but the whole body function better.

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1)  http://www.newsmax.com/health/Headline/fatty-liver-disease-nonalcoholic-steatohepatitis-epidemic/2015/01/04/id/616329/

(2) http://www.webmd.com/ibs/digestive-diseases-irritable-bowel-syndrome

(3) http://chriskresser.com/sibo-what-causes-it-and-why-its-so-hard-to-treat/

(4) http://drsircus.com/medicine/sodium-bicarbonate-baking-soda/baking-soda-friend-need-arm-hammerand

(5)  http://www.webmd.com/children/enzyme-replacement-therapy-for-cystic-fibrosis

(6)  http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/how-cystic-fibrosis-affects-digestion-and-the-pancreas-topic-overview

(7) http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/why-do-people-gain-weight/

(8) http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/news/20160510/clues-to-how-popular-heartburn-drug-might-harm-arteries

(9) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parietal_cell