By Richard Labaki
In terms of exploring cuisines, I have so far covered a fair range – from French, Spanish, and Italian to Thai, Indian and Japanese. Still, others remain to be experienced. And as far as food categories go, my diet excludes almost nothing. Funny how as a teenager my digestive system was so sensitive I could barely digest anything. We all love food and we all look forward to our next meal. Some are seduced by delicacies that are salty while others gravitate towards spicy foods. Our palate may differ, but one thing is for certain: food is a daily pleasure! And sure enough, digestive discomfort is a nuisance we all suffer from time to time due to various factors: improperly prepared meals, heavy dishes, erratic mixing of food groups, seasonal shifts, stress levels and others. Yet for some unfortunate souls, digestive discomfort is an issue they endure constantly irrespective of what they eat, how they eat it and the food portions that they consume. To them, the simple act of ingesting food is an ongoing punishment that tortures them with symptoms ranging from intestinal spasms and bloating to heartburn and chronic constipation. When any of these symptoms persists then this simply means one thing: the digestive system has broken down. And as most holistic therapists agree, almost ninety percent of modern day diseases originate in a sickly gut!
Meds and elimination aren’t the solution
The first thought that crosses the mind of someone suffering from digestive issues is to seek out a quick fix. “Just give me a pill that would solve my problem and alleviate my agony,” he or she often tells the doctor. And so, they are normally prescribed a laxative (if they suffer constipation), an antidepressant like the drug Deanxit (if they suffer intestinal pain/spasms), or a proton pump inhibiter like the drug Nexium (if they suffer GERD or heartburn.) This may help in reducing the symptoms at first; nevertheless, the effect is short-lived – not to mention the fact that such approaches open up the floodgates to several problems. If you don’t believe me just read the side effects mentioned on the pamphlet of each drug. Most importantly, such drugs do nothing to address the root causes that are behind the symptoms. Orthodox medicine is all about masking the symptoms and not tackling the root causes, unfortunately.
The second thought that crosses the mind of someone suffering from digestive issues is to pursue a more “natural” route. They might decide to cut out gluten-containing foods, dairy products, legumes and others from their diet. Some do so after undergoing a food allergy test to uncover the presumed culprits, while others just decide to follow a certain diet they read about online. Oftentimes, this does help (depending on the case and the adopted diet) but again the improvement is short-lived. Avoiding foods you are allergic or intolerant to and others that are generally tough to digest might give your digestive system a break, but it does not rebuild it if it has broken down. And this is a fact overlooked by many health experts. I have seen firsthand numerous people eliminate one food group after the next only to have their symptoms return after a brief period of recuperation (plus their range of food allergies continued to worsen!)
Fixing a broken gut
If pharmaceutical drugs and only avoiding certain foods are not the solution then what should you do? The answer is not so straightforward due to the fact that the digestive system is a complex entity comprising various organs – each complex in its own right. A balance needs to exist between the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and large intestine in order for your digestion to run smoothly and effectively. Any imbalance along this chain will cause a ripple effect leading to a wide array of symptoms and diseases such as food allergies, poor bowel movement, lymphatic congestion and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety/depression, mental fogginess, chronic fatigue, skin conditions like psoriasis and other health concerns.
Therefore, the first step is to determine where along this chain the breakdown has occurred and why. The next step is to work on empowering the specific organ through a customized dietary and supplement plan. If, for example, the liver is congested due to high toxicity then it needs to be flushed and decongested. If the pancreas is not producing enough digestive enzymes then specific natural formulas need to be administered to fill the void while also empowering the pancreas to resume its proper production of enzymes. In other words, the approach needs to be customized according to each individual case. And this is why one-size-fits-all programs do not work for most people and could potentially cause more harm than good.
In the past few years, I have been heavily involved with people suffering from digestive problems. And the spectrum of cases has included inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gas and bloating, chronic constipation and GERD/heartburn. Both research and experience have enabled me to develop a program titled “R3-Digestion”; a holistic approach for repairing, restoring and rebooting the gut. This program, which could be customized based on each case, is designed to re-balance the digestive system in its entirety – stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder and pancreas – by presenting solutions in terms of healing foods, eating rituals, nutritional supplements, lifestyle habits, physical exercises and others.
Improved digestion means…
Being able to enjoy all kinds of foods and cuisines is a blessing I never take for granted, for I know many aren’t so lucky. And this is why I am constantly caring for my digestive system by ingesting the right supplements and adopting the proper dietary and lifestyle habits. Healing a broken gut is very doable, but only if the person is willing to stay the course. And the more powerful your digestive system becomes the more able you are to digest "tough" foods and compounds like gluten, dairy products and others. The simple truth is this: food (except for the junk, the processed and the genetically modified) is not the problem but a weak digestion is. Fix your gut and you will be able to enjoy foods you never knew you could.
If you found this article interesting, please "share" and "like". And feel free to leave your comments/questions below - I would love to hear your opinion and answer your questions.