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Forrest Health Online offers at home and laboratory clinical testing, interpretation and natural vitamin, herbal and homeopathic therapies for intestinal and digestive health.
Good digestion and digestive health are of primary importance if you wish to be healthy. Digestion starts in the mouth where large good particles are broken down and mixed with saliva and salivary enzymes. The food then goes to the upper part of the stomach where digestive enzymes in food continue the process of digestion. After some time the food enters the lower stomach where enzymes and hydrochloric acid further the process and get the food ready to enter the intestines.
When the stomach has finished its work the the food (now called chyme) enters into the duodenum where it mixes with the digestive juices of the pancreas, liver and gall bladder. Digestion and absorption continue in the small intestines which then enters the large intestine before the waste is eliminated.
This is a simple explanation of the course of digestion but it points up many areas where problems can occur.
Stages of Digestion
Stage I Digestion: Upper Stomach
First we chew our food to make it more available for further digestion. The better the food is chewed the easier it is for digestive enzymes to do their work. The chewed food enters into the upper part of the stomach. Here the enzymes in uncooked food begin to do there work. If yo eat cooked food there may not be enzymes left to begin this digestive process. This is one of the reasons why a significant amount of raw food is often advocated as it still contains these natural enzymes.
If you eat cooked food or if you have eaten a lot of cooked food in your life it is probably a good idea to add these natural enzymes back into your food.
Signs and Symptoms: Indigestion, GERD, heartburn, gas.
Suggestion Supplements: Total-Gest Digestive Enzymes
Stage II Digestion: Lower Stomach
In the stomach the food mixes with Pepsin and Hydrochloric acid. This furthers the break down of the food, especially protein. Proteins are broken down to there constituent amino acids so that they can be absorbed and processed by the body.
What kind of problems can arise here? Most common is lack of HCL. This is a common finding as people age and may have numerous causes. This is often misdiagnosed as too much acid and so many use antacids to stop the heartburn and indigestion. This is a terrible solution as the antacid stops what little digestion can still occur when there is a HCL deficiency.
The indigestion could well be caused by a lack of HCL as well as be an indicator of a more significant problem with the liver and gallbladder. Taking the antacid is a temporary relief of symptoms but does nothing to address the underlying problems. You may wish to see a properly trained physician to determine the true nature of the problem. If they suggest antacids you may wish to get a second opinion by somebody trained in natural medicine
Stage III Digestion: Small Intestines and Colon
Once the food is broken down to chyme in the stomach it passes into the duodenum and small intestines to mix with pancreatic and liver/gall bladder enzymes. Here is where the final digestion and breakdown occur. Fat is emulsified by the bile and pancreatic enzymes continue to digest the rest of the food.
Signs and Symptoms: Indigestion, GERD, heartburn, gas, bloating in the intestines, undigested food in the stool. Stool that floats rather than sink. Stool that is light or green in color.
The best overall test of digestion and the digestive system is the GI Effects test. It is the state-of-the-art in gut testing and includes complete testing for digestion, parasites, H. Pylori, dysbiosis and gluten sensitivity. It is highly recommended.
Testing at MetaMetrix as well as other labs indicate that many of us have intestinal parasites. These can vary from microscopic, so that we cannot see them, to large worms. In addition is the intestinal dysbiosis caused by use of antibiotics, poor diets and exposure. This may be a far more common problem that was suspected. If you suspect parasites we recommend the GI Effects Parasitology Test from MetaMetrix as one of the foremost testing labs. It includes testing for H. Pylori.
Suggested Testing: GI Effects Parasitology Test