Improve Dietary Habits
Increase your intake of water. One of the most important and yet often overlooked strategies to improve bowel function for all people is to drink more pure WATER. I cannot tell you how many people I have seen over the years with bowel problems who are chronically dehydrated. This causes the bowel contents to harden and stagnate, which can lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria and also increase inflammation of the bowel lining. I recommend at least two litres of suitable liquid daily (pure water, tea, and vegetable juices).
Increase your intake of fibre. Many people lack fibre because they eat refined sugars and carbohydrates, and too much processed food. Without fibre, the contents of the bowel will stagnate, which can lead to inflammation from excessive toxin formation. Lack of fibre will also force the bowel muscles to contract too strongly in an effort to move the faeces along to the rectum to stimulate a bowel movement. These excessive contractions will increase the pressure inside the bowel, which leads to spastic colon and the formation of pockets in the bowel wall (diverticula).
Increase your intake of raw food. Forty percent of the diet should consist of RAW vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. In severe cases of candida it may be necessary to greatly reduce the amount of fruits and increase the intake of vegetables.
Improve Your Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients from Food
Ensure Adequate Stomach Acid
Deficiency of stomach hydrochloric acid is common in those over 60 years of age, and can lead to weakened digestion and multiple nutritional deficiencies, especially a deficiency of vitamin B12. In such cases it is desirable to increase stomach acidity during meals, and this can be done with tablets of Betaine Hydrochloride. The usual dose is between 200 to 500 mg of Betaine Hydrochloride taken in the middle of a meal.
Another useful technique to increase stomach acidity during a meal is to sip a glass of water containing 2 to 3 tablespoons of good quality organic apple cider vinegar with the juice of half a lemon or lime added. Some people find that this practice really improves their digestion and reduces flatulence and abdominal bloating.
Ensure Adequate Digestive Enzymes
If you find that you feel uncomfortable after eating a meal it is most worthwhile to try a supplement containing digestive enzymes. Lack of digestive enzymes will result in poor breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, leaving only partially digested food to pass through the bowel. This reduces absorption of nutrients and malnutrition of some degree will result.
The most efficient way to take the full complement of digestive enzymes is in the form of some type of whole pancreas preparation, which comes from animal sources. Such a suitable preparation is called Pancreatin and the dosage is 2 to 4 grams with each meal. If you do not like the thought of taking animal pancreas or you are a vegan, you may want to try a digestive preparation, which contains enzymes from plants or the fungus aspergillus niger. For maximum effectiveness the enzyme supplement you choose should contain all of the major enzyme groups, namely amylase, lipase and protease.
Maintain a Healthy Population of Micro-organisms in your Bowel
Your bowels may be harbouring excessive populations of unfriendly microorganisms such as fungi (most commonly yeasts such as candida albicans), bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Natural anti-parasitic remedies include Wormwood, Black Walnut, Cloves, Garlic, Butternut root bark, Buckthorn bark, Pau D'Arco, Phellodendron, Oregano, Thyme and Clove essential oils.
Anti-parasitic remedies are often more effective if they are followed by a purge, during which many dead parasites will be expelled in the faeces. To achieve the required laxative effect you can take 2 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salts with four glasses of water or fruit juice, two hours after finishing the anti-parasitic medication.
Natural antibiotic foods, herbs and condiments include cabbage juice, raw or fermented garlic, onions, leeks, radishes, fenugreek, ginger, chilli, lemon juice, organic apple cider vinegar, turmeric, mustard and rosemary.
The term is used to describe living micro organisms in the intestines that have positive health effects on an individual. The most well known probiotics are acidophilus and bifidus, but there are many others. An adult has approximately three kilograms of bacteria inside their intestines. There are around 500 different species of bacteria in the intestines and the types of bacteria in your intestines have a profound effect on your health.
A good probiotic supplement will help to correct the imbalance of bacteria in your intestines and will do wonders to reduce inflammation and help your immune system. It will also help to heal a leaky gut (excessively permeable intestinal lining). Eating yoghurt is helpful but it must be unflavoured and sugar free and still is not the most effective way to take a probiotic. In order to get the right quantity and the right strains of bacteria, you will need to take a probiotic supplement in capsule or powder form.
Another excellent way to increase the healthy bacteria in your intestines is to regularly consume fermented foods, such as saurkraut, miso, kombucha tea, organic apple cider vinegar etc, which you can make at home or purchase from health food stores.
It has recently been discovered that having high levels of good bacteria in your intestines makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off, whereas bad gut bacteria increases your risk of Syndrome X and Type 2 diabetes.
Use Natural Remedies to Help the Bowels
Aloe Vera juice can soothe the lining of the stomach and intestines and is useful for those with acid reflux, and stomach and duodenal ulcers.
A fibre powder called "FibreTone" is most helpful if you suffer with constipation. It is especially useful if your constipation is associated with irritable bowel syndrome, gluten intolerance, bowel pockets, colonic spasm or loss of the gallbladder. FibreTone contains psyllium husk, the amino acids Taurine and Glycine to promote healthy bile production and the excellent liver herbs St Mary's Thistle and Dandelion Root.
The herbs golden seal, marshmallow, meadowsweet, liquorice, chamomile, peppermint, fennel and arrowroot can reduce intestinal colic and mild bowel inflammations. Digestive herbs such as dandelion, fennel, dill, aniseed, parsley, ginger and catnip can reduce burping and flatulence. Slippery elm powder can reduce acidity and reflux and soothes an irritable bowel. Slippery elm can be taken as a powder, capsules or tablets.
Condiments that reduce flatulence include caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger and turmeric.
The amino acid glutamine helps to protect and maintain the lining of the gastrointestinal tract (known as the mucosa). Normal metabolic and immune function of the intestines is dependent upon adequate amounts of glutamine. Glutamine powder can be helpful for Leaky gut, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, gastritis and peptic ulcers.
Dr Sandra Cabot is the author of the new book Healthy Bowel Healthy Body, and is known as "The Liver Doctor" due to her successful research and work treating liver diseases using holistic medicine. Sandra is Chief Executive of the Women's Health Advisory Service which provides free health advice in Australia and the United States. For more information visit www.cabothealth.com.au