Published On: Sun, Apr 27th, 2014

Your gut and your health

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 When I was young, my mother ensured that I cleared my stomach regularly with laxatives, which I later discovered to be Epsom salt, chemically known as magnesium sulphate. She strongly believed that the stomach accumulated unwanted and harmful matters, which should be eliminated.

Actually, that was a process of detoxification of my system. After each detoxification, she encouraged me to eat well. Since I had no problem at all with my health, her only concern was my stomach. From that time, I understood that, whether her prescription was right or wrong, the stomach was important to my overall health.

From time immemorial, the stomach has often been associated with the mind. A stomach that is loaded with wastes from undigested food is like the mind filled with evil thoughts. In Igbo language, we say that someone has ‘afo ojo’ (dirty stomach)if he is wicked or unmerciful. On the other hand, someone is said to have ‘afo oma’ (good stomach) if he is kind, generous and merciful. In my place, ‘Afoma’ is good  female name;in fact, one of our daughters has that name.

Essentially, if you take care of your gut, it will take care of you. But how much do you care for it? The food we eat sustains us and we must eat to live. But research has shown that the same food we eat may increase the risk of several leading causes of death, notably, diabetes, some forms of cancer, arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke. We live and die through what we eat. Ignorance is no excuse. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

We suffer from many diseases because we continually eat wrong foods that are often improperly digested. The by-products of incomplete digestion clog the gut with accumulated debris. This coating of the gut becomes a perfect breeding ground for dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms. These toxins escape from the bowel into the bloodstream and poison the body. This is self-poisoning or autointoxication. Of course, accumulation of these toxins is responsible for all manner of diseases.

It is believed that over 90 per cent of diseases are caused or complicated by toxins created in the intestinal tract by unhealthy foods that are not properly eliminated. Imagine a gutter that has been left uncleared and continues to accumulate all types of rubbish, which decompose and produce offensive odour. The debris provides a haven for harmful bacteria that cause diseases. People who cook and eat near such a place endanger their health. This is similar to what happens in the gut. It was for this reason that my mother regularly gave me Epsom salt to clear the decomposing debris in my gut.

The food we eat yields only a small proportion of substances our body uses. The rest is eliminated as wastes – digestive and metabolic. The digestive waste is composed of unabsorbed products of the digestion process. The metabolic waste is composed of cellular waste from broken down and discarded cells, eliminated mainly through the kidneys. If these waste products are not regularly eliminated, they poison the body and blood, leading to disease and even death.

A lot of people continue to eat large amounts of harmful foods and experience constipation – no  bowel movement for days – and  then take some laxatives to clear the bowel. This is a bad habit. Really, what the body needs are the micronutrients contained in the food. Sadly, after a heavy meal, most of it is excreted as wastes.

Heavy meals also keep the gut working continuously, which is unhealthy for the body. You need to lighten the workload  of your stomach by giving it an occasional holiday. This is why a form of fasting is good for your health.

Many years ago, I was a victim of constant constipation and resorted to my mother’s method of treatment. But when I knew better, I dropped that unwholesome way of managing constipation.

The food we eat needs some enzymes for digestion. Digestive enzymes break down proteins, fats, sugars, starches, and other carbohydrates. For example, proteolytic enzymes break down proteins, while cellulase enzymes break down the fibre contained in plant foods. These enzymes and the complex processes of the digestive tract are vitally related to our health. Without them, food will not be digested. Vitamins and minerals can only work in the presence of enzymes. Enzyme deficiency may also impair your immune function, resulting in illness.

The source of our enzymes is raw food. Cooking, canning and processing of foods destroy the enzymes they contain. Pasteurisation of milk also destroys the enzymes. You can increase your enzymes by adding more raw fruits and vegetables to your diet. Eat a lot of them.  Do not gulp your food. Eat slowly to have better digestion.

Raw fruits and vegetables prevent and cure diseases by virtue of their enzyme content and wide variety of nutrients. They are described as living foods because they still contain their active enzymes, which are crucial to proper digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food we eat.

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Your gut and your health