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Trust your gut instincts, listen to your body...
 Wilderness | Dr Jon's Blog : 

Dr Jon Morley

Dr Jon 
VITALI Health Centre

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Gut Feeling

We have all felt the effects of tension, worry and anxiety in the stomach. We have clichés relating to this feeling: “I’m ****ing myself”, bad news can be “gut wrenching”, being fired was a real “blow to the guts”, etc. We also have a cliché that hints at out sixth sense, or intuition: “I have a gut feeling”.

Every year millions and millions of dollars, yen, rand, euro and shekels are spent on relieving symptoms of the gut. Chemical medicines, herbal medicines, probiotics, diets, exclusion diets, and acupuncture. At the same time, large sums of money are also spent on medicines for other reasons: arthritis, heart problems, diabetes, depression and weight loss, probably top of the list. Sadly, many of these contribute to digestive disorders, not only by reducing good bacterial levels, reducing all important micronutrient levels, but also by reducing stomach and small intestine digestive acid levels.

The whole balance of digestion is like a well orchestrated symphony. From the thought of food, (yes, think about that lemon and feel the saliva release in your mouth), to the taste and a hormonal and chemical symphony has begun. Chewing, swallowing, stomach churning and releasing more acids, which in turn causes the release of enzymes from the gall bladder and pancreas and stimulates peristalsis to move food along the intestine. From here on, these enzymes and good bacteria continue the process of digestion and assimilation of nutrients into the intestine. These nutrients are then directed to the liver, where they are further processed for intelligent distribution to the body. As food passes over the intestinal wall, it stimulates the formation of certain immune active white blood cells in a positive or negative way. The natural forward motion or peristalsis of food, is made largely possible by the healthy activation of serotonin receptors. Yes, that’s the feel good hormone. In fact, most of our feel good hormone is produced in the gut, as well as most of our immune cells.

So there are many levels at which problems can arise, or where problems can be diminished.
I always advocate a close look at diet and other ingested things such as alcohol, medicines, nicotine etc. To this end, I recommend a practical ‘4R’ approach:
Remove unhealthy foods, toxic foods, overgrowth of pathological bacteria or yeast
Replace with better, functional or healthy foods that can only add vitality: wholefoods, seasonal, unprocessed and plenty raw.

Repair the damage done by bad diets, with judicious use of functional medicines or herbs, and
Reinoculate the bowel with beneficial microbes or bacteria.

While diet change and the use of certain digestive enzymes, stomach acid supplements, probiotics, amino acids like glutamine, essential fatty acids (particularly omega 3), and certain herbs like slippery elm, aloe and liquorice root can give fantastic relief of symptoms and even repair of damaged intestinal lining, these methods should not be relied on in isolation. Digestive distress is a multi-faceted and holistic picture. How many people do you know that get away with eating and drinking whatever they like? Next time you focus on them, have a good look at what their emotional state is, what their stress-coping mechanism is like, whether or not they follow their gut feeling, whether they are in ‘flow’ with life, and not resisting it. Maybe, in light of this, I should call it a ‘5R’ process, and include ‘Re-evaluate’, (emotional processing)?

Consider the global function of digestion, as we understand it: to process nutrients, or more broadly, to process information. For a moment, overlay that on how you process information from an emotional point of view.

Can you “stomach” what you hear/see?
Do you mull over information (ruminate) for a long time before letting it go?
Are you rigid or stuck in your ways?

Do you frequently get a knot in your stomach?
Is there a story you don’t feel comfortable releasing?
Is there a story of laziness or unwillingness?

We could play with words, but the message is the same: it may not be what you eat, but what’s eating you!

Dr Jon Morley
Holistic Medical Doctor

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