A Focus on Digestive
by Dr. Michael Kane
While not everyone might
agree with the statement ” Good health starts with a healthy gut”
many more might after reading the health conditions that have a gut centered
There are many roles for
the gastrointestinal tract.
Digestion and Absorption
One of the primary roles
of the digestive tract is the digestion and absorption of food. The properly
function of this process involves multiple parts and players, but suffice it to
say that the breaking down of food and absorption of nutrients is one of the
most important roles of our gastrointestinal system. Chronic issues with this
process can have significant effects on a multitude of systems in our body.
Many organs and processes in the body rely on this supply chain.
Immune Barrier and
Like our skin, the
gastrointestinal tract provides a barrier of protection. It also houses
one of the biggest components of our immune system, the GALT- Gut Associated
Lymph Tissue. The Galt system keeps a close eye for infectious agents and can
ramp up an army of soldiers to go to battle if an invasion does happen.
A compromised barrier or
GAlt system can cause dis-regulation in our bodies and is thought to be a major
factor in many auto-immune conditions.
We might not think that
hormone production takes place in our digestive tract. But many compounds
that have influence in other parts of our body come from the intestines.
Melatonin and serotonin, are two neurotransmitter that are produced in
the gut. Often called “The Second Brain” for this reason, we
often look to the gut for issues related to mood and behavior. A popular
book, “The GAPS Diet”,
focuses on the brain and gut connection.
Much of the bodies waste
elimination relies on an efficient digestive tract. Waste removal relies
on a healthy liver and kidneys and a digestive function that assist to bind and
evacuate toxins. A sluggish system in those who have constipation or a
long transit time ( the time it takes for a substance to move through your
body) often will reabsorb toxins or compounds meant for elimination putting
extra burden on the body. Some of these toxins can have an impact on our health
by increasing risk of cancers or causing damage to organs.
A Team Effort
There are many
components involved in the proper functioning of our gastrointestinal system.
The liver, the gallbladder, the pancreas and all the glands and enzymes
involved, have their specific role in making everything work.
One of the components of
our digestive tract deserves specific mention. Information about its importance
and role in our health is ever evolving. That is our Microbiota.
The Microbiota is the collection of bacteria that lives in our digestive
system. The bacteria residing here can number in the tens of trillions,
ten times more cells than in the rest of our body. There are more than 3
millions microbial genes in our gut Microbiota, 150 times more genes than in
the human genome.
The research about the microbiota
continues to reveal just how important this part of our digestive tract is. How
we can keep a healthy population will be discussed in an article below. Supporting Your Gut Flora.
If you question if your
digestive system is functioning properly, ask your doctor what tests can be
done to help us optimize the health of this important system.
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