The gut is at the root of so many of our issues. Many of us are now suffering with digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, stomach aches, fatigue, food intolerances or mood issues. Poor gut health often has a role in conditions such as eczema, obesity, dyspraxia, behavioral problems, depression, ADHD, OCD and autism.
Some of the common factors that affect poor gut health include low stomach acid, bad bacteria, parasites and yeast.
What do we need for good gut health?
Gastric acid, gastric juice or stomach acid, is a digestive fluid formed in the stomach and is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCL) from potassium and sodium chloride (salt). This acid plays a key role in digestion of our food. The body therefore needs sufficient sodium and potassium.
HCL is a powerful antibacterial in the body. This HCL provides an acid environment which is important to have as it minimizes the overgrowth of bad bacteria, parasites and yeast which prefer a more alkaline environment.
Zinc deficiency alone is a big cause of many digestive problems. It’s needed for so many functions including activating stomach acid, enzyme production in the liver, pancreas and elsewhere. Rebuilding zinc can take time and has to be done carefully with other mineral imbalances taken into consideration.
Elevated toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminum, arsenic tend to impair digestion and elimination as well. They can block the spaces for minerals such as zinc, which then decrease HCL.
Copper is essential for controlling all types of fungi and some of the bad bacteria in the gut. Too much copper (also known as copper toxicity) can affect other minerals which then affect digestion. It can lower sodium and potassium by raising tissue calcium, slowing the oxidation rate, and decreasing the acidity in the stomach which helps bad bacteria and yeasts to grow.
A lack of iodine, vitamin B1 or B6 are also common culprits of inadequate HCL production. We then need HCL for the absorption of Vitamin B12! If B-12 levels get low, red blood cells get bigger and less efficient at carrying oxygen. This can cause low energy episodes.
Phosphorus is important for overall digestion, a low phosphorus can mean you’re unable to digest protein well, have low stomach acid or intestinal infections (e.g. candida).
A hair mineral test can tell you if you have any of these mineral imbalances. It also shows how you metabolise your food. Many people I see are ‘slow oxidisers’ which means their metabolism is sluggish- thyroid, adrenals, detox, and digestion are all on the slow side. Whereas those who are have fast metabolism tend to have more trouble with diarrhea (or frequent bowel movements), high levels of stomach acid, gastritis and ulcers.
As you can see there’s quite a few things we need for a healthy gut and digestion. I focus first on rebalancing minerals and other nutrients, ensuring we get a foundation for good health.