Digestion 101

Is your child experiencing any of the following symptoms of poor digestion:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Pale, foul smelling or fatty stool
  • Irritability

All of these symptoms tell us that the digestion process of the gastrointestinal system is unhealthy.

In addition, food, minerals and nutrients are not being absorbed effectively in order to heal the brain and power up that immune system.

Digestion 101 Breakdown: Without digestion nothing works!

  • Digestion takes place in the gastrointestinal tract which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines and the rectum (anus).
  • The liver, gallbladder and pancreas are the other assisting organs that make up the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Bacteria and microbes in the gastrointestinal tract called the microbiome or gut flora help with digestion.
  • Hormones release digestive juices that stimulate and regulate appetite.
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic nerves help control action of the muscle to digest food.
  • Digestive juices found in each organ are key because they break food down into nutrients.
  • Saliva contains enzymes that break down starches in the mouth.
  • Glands in the stomach lining produce stomach acid and an enzyme that digests protein.
  • The pancreas produces enzymes that break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins in food.
  • The liver produces a digestive juice called bile that dissolves fat so the intestinal pancreatic enzymes can digest fat molecules.
  • Good bacteria in the small intestine produce enzymes needed to digest carbohydrates.

All these processes need to work together in order to avoid digestive symptoms; when left untreated these symptoms may develop into digestive disorders and/or conditions such as, to name a few:

  • Leaky gut syndrome (LGS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Enterocolitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Celiac disease
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Motility disorders

What Impacts Digestion?

Microbes: What a Difference a Microbe Makes…

Why are microbes a huge culprit?

When abnormal microbial imbalances create a higher level of bad bacteria to a lower level of good healthy microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, then conditions such as gut dysbiosis and SIBO may develop.

Many children with autism spectrum disorders have been found to have an overgrowth of bad microorganisms in the gut which alter the child’s resistance to infection and general immune response.

In some cases microbes such as Clostridia difficile found in many ASD children can cause diarrhea and colitis.

These microbes have neurotoxic effects on the brain causing many negative behaviors such as:

  • High anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-stimulatory behaviors
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Self-mutilation

Gut microbes and bad bacteria affect the microbiome-gut-brain-axis by altering neurotransmitter functioning.

These microbes are very powerful and negatively affect digestion, brain functioning and the immune system.

Enzymes: The Life Force in Our Basic Biochemical and Metabolic Processes

Environmental toxins, heavy metals, chemicals in our foods, air and water all have the potential of damaging enzymes in our children’s bodies that are necessary to break down the food they eat.

Digestive juices, saliva, glands, pancreas, liver and good bacteria all produce enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract to assist with digestion, absorption of nutrients and elimination of wastes.

Therefore, enzymes are extremely vital to the entire digestive process and in particular the enzymes needed to breakdown gluten and casein, which are main staple foods in today’s western diet.

These enzymes are often the first enzymes to lose their capacity to function.

There are many varieties of enzymes for different food digestion problems depending on the child’s digestive issues:

  • Phenols
  • Pancreatic (protein)
  • DPP-IV(gluten and casein)
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Bicarbonate (acid reflux)

Enzymes have had a huge impact in aiding the digestion process of children with autism, which has shown improvement in many areas:

  • Eye contact
  • Language
  • Humor
  • Food and sensitivity tolerance
  • Digestive symptoms
  • Stools/bowels
  • Behaviors

Many parents have reported improvement in their child’s behavior such as reduced:

  • Aggression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Pain
  • Self-stimulatory behaviors
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety

Alkalinity/Acidity: Why Is pH Important? 

When the body’s pHs are not in balance, then the overall function of the body’s ability to absorb, assimilate, maintain minerals and create enzymes is compromised.

The saliva pH should ideally be between 6.8 to 7.2 and the urine pH should ideally be between 5.8 and 6.2.

These numbers may fluctuate throughout the day but should not be too much out of range in order to maintain healthy organisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

Saliva pH corresponds to the utilization of metabolic and digestive enzymes.

Urinary pH corresponds to the assimilation of buffering minerals which are the body’s electrolytes: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

If your child’s saliva pH is too low, then this creates:

  • An acidic environment
  • A lack of metabolic enzymes, which are the important enzymes to help create energy in the body and assist with oxygen absorption
  • Insufficient digestive enzymes, which may lead to an overgrowth of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract

If your child’s urine pH is too low then this creates:

  • An acidic environment, adding more pathogens to the gastrointestinal tract
  • An inability to assimilate minerals, which can create bone and muscle loss and affect the cells, organs, and tissues of the body

Too high urine pH and too high saliva pH creates a too alkaline environment, which causes poor absorption and poor assimilation ability which causes similar problems as low pHs.

Double pHs (high urine and saliva which is double alkalinity and/or low urine and low saliva which is double acidity) intensify the poor assimilation and poor absorption issues, which affect the child’s digestion and state of the gastrointestinal tract.

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