Healer's Clinic Dubai

Take care of your gut – it won’t give up on you

Aug 15 2021

“A universe and an ecosystem within us”- this is what our gastrointestinal tract is! With an entrance named ‘mouth’ and an exit named ‘anus’, the digestive system is a contained world of complex chemistry and microbes controlled by undefinable energy of intricate movements and messenger systems.

The digestive membrane, or the structure which make the walls of this passage and storage space, with little ‘processing’ factories of its own, determines the nature of chemical relations with the outside world of tissues and cells.

In Ayurveda or traditional medicine, the digestive tract is the seat of Agni, the biological fire, which is responsible for transformation. In other words, the digestive system decides just how much of the outside world becomes a part of our energy and tissues! How the elements or building blocks of Nature become a part of a living organism, is the most wonderful part of our being.

The digestive surface is extraordinarily vast and with its tissues wide open, is comparable to a tennis court. The mucosa secretes and absorbs large quantities of fluids, thecells allow food, when digested, to enter the body and particles which are otherwise toxic, become a part of our living being, through finer processing. Amazing, isn’t it?

Bacteria is integral to gut health and to our overall wellbeing. Bacterial population should be adequate and symbiotic in nature. Millions of them tirelessly work on what is otherwise difficult to digest for a human body and feed us with essential nutrients.

The body’s gastrointestinal tract and its functions is the cornerstone of our well-being. Studies have shown the connect between our gut health and our immune system, mental health, skin health, endocrine and cancerous diseases.

As modern research states “Gut microbiota are integral to host digestion and nutrition, and they can generate nutrients from substrates that are otherwise indigestible by the host.”  Apart from the nutritional aspect, they train and coordinate with our immune system to make a human cope with natural challenges that are a part of his existence. In other words, without gut microbes, health of an individual will fade in no time. Emerging studies also show how important the microbiota is to cardiovascular health. Microbiom is stable over time, however, the extremes of diet, age and environmental factors affects its composition.

Ayurveda has a deep-rooted perspective on disease that originates from the gut. It is linked to the concept of Agni, the internal biological fire. Agni is influenced by factors such as diet, activity and seasons that give rise to internal imbalances starting with micro level digestive changes.  Taking care of Agni is the key concept of gut health as explained by Ayurveda. Eating in moderation and in accordance to digestive power, seasons, constitution and familiarity is the key to protect your gut health.

Processed food that is easily available is difficult to breakdownand isn’t easily digestible compared to whole foods. The high reliance on artificial additives, further degrades the GI tract and weakens gut health. Artificial sweeteners are amongst those additives that are highly consumed. This affects a number of microbiomes in a negative way, which in turn leads to inconsistent and oscillating blood sugar levels.

This problem can be solved by eating a range of diverse foods, that can give rise to new types of bacteria, which can be beneficial to the GI health.

Including whole fruits and vegetables that are fibrous, are easily digestible by the microbiomes in the tract, further stimulates their growth.

Fermented food is often altered by microbes present within. The fermenting bacteria convert the sugars present to organic acids and alcohol. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are examples of food which contain bacteria called lactobacilli. Consuming fermented food has also shown to reduce the presence of Enterobacteriaceae, a microbiome usually associated with inflammation and a few chronic diseases.

Lifestyle habits often tend to affect the health of the GI tract. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can damage the liver but can also have an equally adverse effect on the GI tract. A major problem frequently observed in alcoholics is dysbiosis. Smoking cigarettes is often an activity that people partake in, while drinking. Smokers are more prone to inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease. It kills many beneficial bacteria which increase the risk of cancer.

To sum it up, the health of the gut is determined by a combination of what we place in our body andhow we treat our body. Consuming the right kind of food and engaging in physical exercise will benefit the growth of important and good bacteria.

Authors: Dr Hafeel Ambalath, CEO and Dr Saya Pareeth, Medical Director

                 The Healers’ Clinic, Dubai

(Dr Hafeel and Dr Sayahave two decades of clinical practice backing them and have been engaged in research and advocacy of Integrative and Traditional Medicine)

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Take care of your gut – it won’t give up on you