We eat food and it is broken down in our stomachs. It passes into our small intestines where the majority of the nutrition is absorbed into the body. The rest is passed into the large intestine. The large intestine extracts the final few pieces of nutrition and some water, before defecating the waste.
We want our stomach to be able to break down the food into digestible pieces. We want our small intestine to be able to absorb the nutrition effectively and pass the rest onto the large intestine. We want the large intestine to extract whatever nutrition is left and then get rid of all the nasties.
If everything works well, we get all of the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. If something goes wrong, then the consequences range from mild discomfort to major diseases (diabetes, IBD, obesity, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, depression etc).
Our intestines are responsible for determining how successful we are at keeping the good stuff and getting rid of the bad stuff. Intestinal health is of paramount importance. Alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDs, processed foods, and in particular gluten, can all damage the gut and make it “leaky”.
Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are good for your gut, while probiotics, glutamine, zinc and omega-3 supplementation can help.
Having poor intestinal health isn’t always obvious. The symptoms may be mild, or may be confused for other diseases. The best approach is to remove all potential irritants (grains, alcohol, antibiotics etc) for a month. Note how you look, feel and perform. At the end of the month reintroduce these substances and again note how you look, feel and perform.
When I removed grains from my diet I noticed I farted less. When I reintroduced them I started farting again. Excessive flatulence isn’t a major disease, but it did suggest that grains were causing problems in my gut. While the symptoms may be small now, they could become more serious over time. Apart from the occasional binge, I have all but removed grains from my diet.
Finally, if you’re serious about intestinal health you could also get tested by UBiome, as described in the previous post.