By Katherine Atkinson, of Mind Body and Sole
For a number of reasons, the majority of people don’t seem to have very good intestinal health anymore.
Most of the food we eat is not only lacking in nutrients, it’s filled with additives, preservatives, and other chemicals.
From the air we breathe and the water we drink, to the thousands of chemicals we come into contact with each day – it all takes its toll on the colon and, ultimately, on our overall health.
The digestive process begins as soon as food enters the mouth. As we chew our food we increase the surface area of food particles making the food more susceptible to digestive enzymes. Smaller food particles also travel more easily (and quickly) throughout the small and large intestines. In the stomach, food is mixed with gastric juices containing digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. This mixture is known as chyme. From the stomach, the chyme moves into the small intestine. There, more enzymes and bile are mixed with the chyme, and the breakdown of dietary proteins, fats and carbs is complete. Some carbs are not digested by human enzymes and they pass undigested into the colon.
Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. However Vitamin K, niacin, and B vitamins are formed by beneficial bacteria in and absorbed by the colon. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and Niacin and the B vitamins affect energy levels, metabolism, feelings of fatigue and the function of nerves. Evidence suggests that serotonin is created in the colon as well.
The colon is also designed to eliminate toxins. When the colon is not working well, it begins to absorb toxins into the blood stream rather than expelling them.You can see why having a healthy colon is important.
So how do you know if you have an unhealthy colon? First of all, if you’ve ever taken antibiotics there’s a pretty good chance that you colon health isn’t optimal.
Why? Because one of the determining factors of colon health is the bacterial in your gut. Is it friendly or unfriendly. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, and they don’t care whether they’re friendly or unfriendly. Birth control pills, not enough dietary fiber, poor eating habits, alcoholic beverages, chlorine, sodium fluoride, and stress all contribute to intestinal flora imbalance too.
Our digestive system is home to more than 500 different bacterial species, and if 85% of the bacteria in our colon is friendly then the colon can handle the 15% of unfriendly bacteria. The problem is most of us have this reversed. The result?
Diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, bloating, allergies, eczema, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel, kidney stones, ear infections, strep throat, colds, vaginal yeast infections, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, thrush, athlete’s foot, cancer, and on and on.
How can this be? Well, friendly bacteria (called probiotics – there are 1000’s of strains) prevent the overgrowth of yeast and fungus. They compete with candida in the intestine, they suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, they produce substances that can lower cholesterol, they enhance the protective barrier of the digestive tract, they help produce vitamin K, they improve immune function, they lower blood cholesterol in some people, they lower blood pressure in some people, they aid in the digestion of lactose, they prevent cavities, they decrease the passage of bacteria or antigens from the intestines to the blood stream, they fight pre-carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds, they lower the pH of intestinal contents, they utilize oxalate (oxalate contributes to kidney stones), they detoxify ingested carcinogens, they produce compounds that inhibit the growth of tumor cells, and more!
So where do you get these probiotics?
Well, believe it or not, store bought yogurt probably isn’t your best source. Neither is the probiotic pill that you buy at the health food store. Why? Because the yogurt has been pasteurized which kills all the bacteria and then they add one or two strains of probiotics, but remember there are 1000’s of strains; and the same goes for the probiotic supplement. Plus the supplement is dried, so the probiotic strains need to hydrate before they can be effective.
So what’s a girl to do?
Well, probiotics can be found in homemade yogurt and kefir as well as naturally fermented sauerkraut and other naturally fermented foods. So when you ingest these foods, you’re actually putting friendly bacteria back in to your gut!
So what does this have to do with the “perfect trifecta for intestinal health”? Well probiotics is one part of it. Let me tell you what we do in our family.
First, every night before bed we take fresh garlic and chop it up fine – about a teaspoon full will do. Then we let it sit for 14 minutes and swallow it like a pill.
The garlic kills the unfriendly bacteria in my gut and feeds the friendly bacteria – it’s what’s known as a pre-biotic.
Amazingly, I don’t have garlic breath and I don’t smell like garlic when I sweat.
Second, every day we take a teaspoon of Redmond Clay and mix it in a cup of water, let it sit for a few minutes, stir it again, and drink it.
Among other things, the clay is primarily negatively charged, but unfriendly bacteria, toxins, parasites, heavy metals, and radiation, are all positively charged. So as the clay travels through the digestive system, the unfriendly bacteria (and other things) are attracted to the clay and eliminated.
Third, throughout the day we drink kefir. Kefir is a better choice than yogurt as yogurt only contains a few strains of beneficial bacteria whereas kefir has 20 or more and, unlike yogurt, some of these are aggressive strains that recolonize the gut.
So, we’ve got the garlic killing the unfriendly and feeding the friendly; the clay pulling the unfriendly out of the system; and the kefir putting friendly back into the system which the garlic then feeds.
See how that works?!
So, what have I noticed since I’ve been implementing the “perfect trifecta” for intestinal health in my life? Well, I’m more regular in my bowel movements (overshare, but it’s the truth).
Remember that your body is like a donut – round with a hole through the center. The top of the hole is your mouth and the bottom of the hole is your anus. Whenever the top hole opens it shouldn’t be too long before the bottom hole opens and if it isn’t, things need some improvement.
The other thing I noticed is that my sugar cravings stopped. I didn’t think too much of it until a friend of mine commented that she was having the same result! But it makes sense. What do the unfriendly bacteria feed off of? Refined sugar, refined flour… So, when I have more friendly bacteria than unfriendly bacteria, my body isn’t going to crave the things that feed the unfriendly bacteria!
Third, I have an overall feeling of health and well-being and no “brain fog”!
Not too shabby for a few “home remedies”, huh?!
So, have you had any experiences using the Perfect Trifecta of garlic, clay, and kefir to improve intestinal health? If so, I’d like to hear about your experiences.
In addition to being a foot zone therapist and the owner of Mind Body and Sole, Katherine Atkinson is a Foot Zone Instructor for We Do Feet and the Davis County Utah Chapter Leader for the Weston A Price Foundation.
When not zoning, teaching the foot zone technique, nutrition & cooking classes, or herbal classes, Kathy enjoys being outside in her garden and spending time with her husband, Troy, and two children, Courtney and Seth.