Under normal conditions, digestion is an efficient process that transforms food into energy, nutrients and waste products, all of which are sent to appropriate parts of the body for dispersal and disposal. The food is acted upon by chemicals, such as the stomach's hydrochloric acid (HCL), and enzymes. If you have been taking antacids on a regular basis, you may not have the proper amount of HCL needed for proper digestion and absorption of things such as Calcium.

Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, which, under optimum conditions, is well blended with food during chewing. Enzymes combine with moisture to transform carbohydrates into maltose, an energy–producing sugar. Well chewed and with its carbohydrates predigested, the food travels down the esophagus to the stomach, where it encounters among other things, the enzymes rennin, pepsin, and lipase, which digest milk, protein and fats.

Hydrochloric acid breaks down proteins and the fiber of vegetables, releasing nutrients, destroying bacteria and regulating the body's acid–alkaline balance. Food then travels to the small intestine, where it encounters bile, pancreatic lipase, tripsin, lactase, amylopsin and other enzymes. Altogether, the body uses over 600 enzymes, each of which performs a separate function in the body. Without them, we cannot convert food into energy or extract its nutrients; in fact, without them none of our bodies' processes would function properly.

As a woman it is very important to have an intact healthy gut. I always say that the root to health is having proper digestion and absorption. The known estrogenic isoflavones from the diet like soy, legumes, lentils, etc. are extremely important to proper hormonal health. A good amount of probiotic bacteria, or healthy bacteria is necessary to convert the isoflavones from the diet to its active available form. Having a weak estrogen occupy the estrogen receptor site, reduces the estrogenic response.

Recent nutrition research has demonstrated that a healthy bacterial population balance can be achieved by manipulation of the diet without drugs. What is required is a specialized food that will nourish friendly bacteria exclusively. When this is present, the symbiotic bacteria thrive at the expense of a parasitic bacteria. These natural products that support the growth of favorable probiotic bacteria, are termed prebiotics. I have outlined the following points that summarize the role of probiotic bacteria.

  1. They enhance and allow digestion of lactose by providing the enzyme lactose and in general aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients
  2. Destroy hostile invading bacteria by producing natural antibiotic substances
  3. They have a direct anti tumor effect
  4. They help prevent cancer by destroying or preventing the formation of chemicals which are carcinogenic
  5. They reduce the level of cholesterol
  6. They help to produce B Vitamins
  7. They are able to control proliferation of Candida albicans
  8. Through their production of lactic acid they preserve and enhance the digestibility of foods which are fermented with them, such as tofu, miso, pickles etc.

There are certain products that I use in clinical practice, other than the prebiotics and probiotics, when dealing with digestive complaints. LGlutamine, the amino acid , is an important part of any regiment when trying to heal tissue of any kind. It is first of all the primary nutrient of the G.I. tract, and is very important for metabolism and immunity. It neutralizes toxins in the body and is essential for metabolism and immunity. Absorb by Institute of Rehabilitative Nutrition is a combination of ingredients such as LGlutamine, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Gamma Oryzanol, N–Acetyl Glucosmaine.

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