Provider’s Corner – A Message from Dr. Schrenker:

According to Wikipedia: Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism uses food to support its life.

Nutrients are the building blocks of that food.  Food is a substance consumed that brings nutrients into your body.  Your body is designed to process food into energy and waste by-products.  Let’s follow some food thru your body.

First, you have chosen to eat real food, let’s say a carrot.  You will chew the carrot into a pulp, adding saliva which contains digestive enzymes and fluids.  It then travels down the esophagus thru a sphincter muscle that opens and allows it to pass into the stomach. To some degree, it is further macerated into a slurry.  From there, the pulp is bathed in acid and more digestive enzymes.  These enzymes and acids break down the cell walls of the food releasing the nutrients held inside.  To this point, you have not absorbed many, if any nutrients.  Without this acid, you cannot release the nutrients in the carrot, which is why we try to decrease or eliminate all acid reducing medications and will usually discuss adding digestive enzymes or apple cider vinegar.  Also, vitally important is adding water to further thin this slurry.

From here, after adequate time, the carrot is dumped from the stomach into the duodenum.  The gallbladder then contracts and bathes the slurry with bile which breaks down the fats, releasing the energy within.  The pancreas also contracts, expressing a ton of different digestive enzymes.  From here, digestion is limited and absorption of all the released nutrients happens.  The carrot has been digested.

The flora, the microbiome, gut bugs are terms used to describe over 5,000 different bacteria, yeast and organisms that live in a healthy gut.  Without them, any illness is possible, and all illnesses are more severe.  They are of vital importance for our health.  We cannot absorb nutrients without a healthy flora.  It is this flora that packages most of our nutrients for proper absorption. Some of the flora actually create molecules essential to life, that cannot be eaten or supplemented. They must be made by your body.  Again, this is why we try not to use antibiotics or yeast medications too frequently as these kill off a lot of the flora, creating an unbalanced gut.  And, on the flipside, why we recommend digestive enzymes and probiotics so much.

A quick aside on probiotics and digestive enzymes:  A healthy individual eating a whole food diet usually will not require either digestive enzymes or probiotics.  We do recommend changing your source of probiotics frequently to vary the kind of cultures you ingest.  As always, eating a diet rich in fermented foods is the best source.  The bacteria and yeast used to break down dairy to yogurt, cabbage to Kraut, pickles, certain cheeses are all natural and many will continue to grow in your gut.  But like you, they need to be fed…food; not food-like substances.  They will literally starve to death on a processed diet.  Then you become mal-nourished. From there, your body will crave food (you will be hungry all the time) and as you eat more fake food, full of calories, you make fat while you are starving to death.  The cycle continues until you die prematurely.  As for digestive enzymes, as we get older, we make less.  That’s why Mom and Dad can’t eat certain foods anymore, but the kids can.  As we make less acid, we digest food less and have more “indigestion” (feel full prematurely, bloat, heartburn, etc.)  Less acid in the stomach means the muscle on top of the stomach relaxes, allowing the acid in the stomach to go into the esophagus.  Nicotine also relaxes this muscle, which is why all tobacco users have heartburn and increased risk for esophageal cancer.  So that’s why when the GI doc prescribes Omeprazole or other acid blockers, we try to change it to digestive enzymes when we can.

Back to absorption.  As the food moves thru to jejunum and ileum, we absorb most of the nutrients from the food.  This slurry gets dumped in the cecum, a pouch at the beginning of the colon.  Now this slurry is passed thru the colon, absorbing the last bits of fat and nutrients out of the food until it becomes waste.  As it passes thru the colon, the water is absorbed out of it as well.  Imagine a 5 foot long stocking.  Fill that stocking up with a very liquid slurry and start squeezing it thru to the other end.  As it progresses, it get more firm, and on the other end, it is solid.  Now start with peanut butter.  How hard is it to squeeze that thru? Nearly impossible.  That’s what happens when you are not drinking enough water.  You can’t absorb all the nutrients to begin with, then it takes 48-72 hours for food to pass thru, so at some point it begins to rot, releasing toxic by-products.  Normal transit times are 12-24 hours. To see what your transit time is, eat a bunch of corn (unless you are allergic) and see when it starts to show up in your stool.

So, the takeaways from this are: Eat real, whole food as much as possible.  That is food that does not have an ingredients label.  Not only does this contain nutrition, it feeds the vast colonies of bugs living in your gut.  If you get indigestion, consider adding more acid and digestive enzymes to your gut rather than knocking them out with acid-blockers.  Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily.  For example, a 100lb person drinks 50 ounces of water and so on.

Simply taking care of your gut and nutrition can reverse, not just manage diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, anxiety…nearly all acquired diseases.  That’s free! No extra cost to you.  It does not require a prescription, prior approval or procedure.

As always, remember to be mindful.

With Love and Peace,
Dr. Schrenker

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