Welcome to September '07 issue of the Preventive Health E-zine.

Welcome! This is the gut edition, where I'll tell you all about how you can improve your health and help prevent chronic degenerative disease, by looking after your belly.

Wishing you the best of health.

Oliver Freer

www.Preventive-Health-Guide.com

At a glance - What's in this issue?

- Are you sure you have got the guts?

- What's going on in there?

- Why is your gut so important?

- Why is having good nutrition critical?

- What sort of gut problems are there?

- Which chronic degenerative diseases can poor gut function cause?

- The "Good Gut" Diet!

- Probiotics

Have you got the guts?

Did you realise that if you laid your intestines out end to end, they’d actually stretch nearly ten metres, or around 30 feet, in length? (You’d also be pretty uncomfortable, but that’s another story).

Yes, your gut makes up a sizeable part of your whole body, and it plays a vital role in your health and happiness. But because it’s hidden away, we don’t often stop to consider its function, until something goes wrong.

When problems start to occur in the intestines, they can have serious repercussions for the rest of the body, as we’ll find out later.

So, as always, prevention is better than cure – and knowing a bit about your gut could help you achieve this.

What's going on in there?

The gut is segment of alimentary canal that runs from the mouth to the anus. It’s responsible for starting the digestive process that begins when you eat something, and ends when you go to the toilet.

In other words, your gut is the part of your body that deals with breaking down food into its nutritional components, and sending them off to the parts of the body where they’ll be most useful.

Why is it so important?

Without your gut, you’d have no energy, no biological processes, and ultimately, no life!

On a daily basis, your gut is responsible for dividing material in your food into useful and non-useful components.

The material that isn’t any use to the body gets sent out as waste matter. The useful bits i.e. the nutrients, are absorbed through the lining of the gut, and sent into the blood stream, where they travel to the organs.

That means that if your gut is healthy, it’s more likely to efficiently divide the food and send the nutrients where your body wants them. If it’s not healthy, you may not digest your food properly, and you won’t be getting the quantity of nutrients you need.

Some surgeons and other health care professionals treating people with poor digestion, report finding undigested food that is years old in the guts of their patients!

Why is having good nutrition an absolute must?

If your body isn’t receiving the quantity or quality of nutrients it needs, it simply can’t function properly.

You might not notice this initially, but over the years, it’ll place a massive strain on your organs. Eventually, this could turn into chronic degenerative diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, arthritis - or even certain types of cancer.

Even if the lack of nutrients doesn’t directly cause a serious condition, you’ll be at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping yourself fit and healthy, or fighting against any disease you may happen to develop.

In addition, without your proper quota of nutrients, you’ll age more quickly , and you’ll feel less happy.

Believe me, when someone has a gut problem, or even just chronically poor digestion, it eventually shows on their face – via poor skin condition, with wrinkles, spots, and waxy or oily surface, puffy eyes and possibly a bloated jawline. Not surprisingly, they often look a bit fed up, too!

One of the main reasons a lack of nutrients causes chronic degenerative diseases, premature aging and a lack of energy and enthusiasm, is what’s known as oxidative stress. You see, when cells process oxygen, they produce a by-product which is toxic. This is a normal part of metabolism. However, a person’s inability to effectively neutralise this toxic by-product leads to oxidative stress, a kind of damage, to the cells and therefore the organs.

Another reason it’s important to have good nutrition lies in your gut’s role as a key part of your immune system. Helpful bacteria in the gut fight off pathogens (germs) that enter your digestive system through food, drink, or air.

Additionally, the nutrients your gut sends around your system keep your organs healthy, so they can fight disease on every front.

What sort of gut problems are we talking about here?

It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario: poor digestion causes gut problems, and gut problems cause poor digestion. Some of the more common gut conditions you might experience as a result, are gastroentiritis, diverticular disease (diverticulitis), irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhoea, constipation, colitis, coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis (ulcers).

So which chronic degenerative diseases can poor gut function cause?

If you have a gut problem, you may have maladjusted blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia), because the gut’s responsible for sending sugar molecules to the blood stream. If that carries on over the long-term, one consequence could be diabetes.

That’s the least of your worries, however, as eventually, oxidative stress from poor nutrition can lead to cardiovascular disease (strokes and heart attacks), atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and others.

Industrialised countries see a lot of these kinds of problems because our diet is relatively unhealthy. We eat the wrong kinds of foods, containing a lot of sugar, salt and fat, with little fibre and poor levels of omega oils, vitamins and minerals.

It’s actually pretty difficult to even get the correct amount of quality nutrients in industrialised countries these days. The global nature of the food supply, poor soil quality, long storage periods, and food processing practices all degrade the food and diminish its nutrient content. meaning that vitamins and minerals are difficult to obtain.

How can I avoid these problems?

Ah, now that’s where we can help! Below you’ll find some good ways to keep clear of these gut nasties, and their associated chronic degenerative diseases.

Even small changes you make in this direction will produce life-changing results over a period of time. Quite often, you’ll feel better, with more energy, after just a couple of weeks.

Diet

This is by far the most important factor. To keep your gut healthy, you should aim to consume a proportion of vegetables that’s around 50 – 80% of your meal, with each and every meal.

Most people don’t want vegetables for breakfast, so go for a range of fibrous cereals or fruit, instead.

You should try and eat at least 5 sizeable portions of different fruits and vegetables each day.

If you’re not too fond of vegetables or fruit, see if you can get some of your quota by making a juice or smoothie containing two or three portions.

There are some excellent juice and smoothie menu books available, and downloadable from the internet.

Do eat some whole, though, as a lot of the fibre and nutrients are found in the peel. If you can, eat some raw, too – because cooking destroys some of the vitamins.

Before you eat them, please take care to soak your fruit and vegetables in vinegar water (rinsing thoroughly in fresh water afterwards) to remove as much pesticide residue as possible.

Probiotics

When we’re born, we have no bacteria at all in our guts. As soon as we begin drinking our mother’s milk, she passes a huge range of very helpful digestive bacteria to us.

Babies not fed on breast milk miss out on this important boost to developing good gut colonisation.

These digestive bacteria are vital to our survival – they help us break down enzymes in the food, and they help fight off disease, so we can’t function without them.

Unfortunately, as we get older and our diets become less healthy (especially in the West), the quantity of bacteria diminishes, or the quantity of ‘good’ bacteria becomes unbalanced against a quantity of ‘bad’ bacteria.

A common example of a ‘bad’ bacteria is candida albicans (commonly known as thrush) which can colonise the gut and wreak havoc with our digestion – making us tired and lethargic, lowering our immune defences, and preventing us absorbing the correct amount of nutrients from our food.

Make sure you maintain your levels of helpful ‘good’ bacteria, by taking a live probiotic supplement. Good examples are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, and ideally, these are found in capsule form, in the fridge of your health food store (the non-refrigerated versions are usually useless).

Alternatively, you can make your own probiotic yoghurt, called ‘kefir’, which is widely drunk around the world, for the purpose of maintaining a healthy digestion.

You can buy the kefir culture (usually in powder form) over the internet, and add your own store-bought cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or soy milk.

It’s very easy and much cheaper than buying a capsule supplement, or buying ready-made probiotic yoghurt (plus the store-bought version of probiotic yoghurt often contains sugar, or preservatives).

To help your gut, try to avoid eating sugar, drinking much alcohol, or smoking. If you suspect you have a bacterial imbalance, also cut out fruit until it’s resolved (fruit contains a type of sugar). Don’t forget to replace the fruit with extra vegetables though!

Other Supplements

Because it’s so hard to get a really high quality nutritional balance and quantity in Western diets these days, you should supplement your food with the highest quality vitamin and mineral supplement. Hopefully, if you’re following the advice above, your gut should digest them properly and you’ll receive a health-giving nutrient boost on a daily basis.

Don’t expect your doctor to necessarily advise probiotics and other supplements. Most doctors only receive about 3 weeks of nutrition training at medical college, and they often don’t really understand quite how important nutrition is, when it comes to chronic degenerative disease and health. (Bear in mind, some doctors still smoke!)

If possible, see a qualified nutritionist, who can help you construct a nutritional plan that’s tailor-made for you.

They can make sure you’re taking the right supplements, because after all, everyone’s different – with varied eating habits, bodily reactions, and medical history. Your doctor simply won’t have the time, training, or inclination, to talk to you for at least half an hour on a regular basis about how your nutrition is affecting your health.

Exercise

It’s important for your gut, as well as your general health, that you get regular exercise – preferably outside in the fresh air, where there’s plenty of oxygen.

Your gut is very long, and contains a good number of bulges and pockets, where food can easily get stuck.

Doing exercise helps shake the waste matter through, and strengthens the muscles responsible for making the gut work.

Some kinds of exercise are particularly helpful to the gut. Take yoga, for example, which has a range of stretching and strengthening postures specifically designed to exercise the gut and relieve any tensions it may be holding.

Did you realise your gut is actually one of the largest centres of emotion in your body? That’s where the expressions “gut reaction” and “gut feeling” and “it took a lot of guts” come from.

A great deal of the body’s stress is felt by the intestines, which can literally bunch up as a result of chronic stress, fatigue, fear, and other kinds of negative emotions.

Yoga can really help your digestion by removing and relieving the effects of these.

That’s all for this month!.....

.. I hope you found the gut edition helpful, and do drop me a line with any thoughts, questions or comments you may have about this newsletter, or the site in general. See you next time!




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*What's the real meaning of P.S.?

A few of my readers have asked why I called the E-zine for preventive-health-guide P.S.

The obvious answer is that it stands for Post Script; that little notation you put at the end of a letter when you've left something out.

The real P.S. stands for Paradigm Shift.

That is what this whole website and news letter is about - turning the current health system upside down and inside out - focussing on prevention rather than cure.

For more information go to the health paradigm shift.