Learning about Health – Day 25

Countryside near the TVA site of the Douglas dam, Tenn. (LOC)
A Simpler Time.

If you are new to this site and wondering what this is about, I’ve given myself a 100-day health challenge. I’m using Dr. Junger’s book, Clean – Remove Restore Rejuvenate to guide me through his three-week detoxification program.

I write what I learn from each chapter as I go through Dr. Junger’s book. Hopefully, it will help me to stay committed to completing the detoxification plan. If this sounds like something that interests you, I highly recommend purchasing Dr. Junger’s book (just so you know, I don’t receive a commission should you decide to purchase).

The title for chapter six is, “The Common Root of Dysfunction: Digging for Answers.” Sounds like we’re getting somewhere.

“When the leaves of a plant start looking sick, wise gardeners will dig out the root to take a look.”

Dr. Junger writes that healthy leaves come from healthy nutrient rich soil. By studying other traditions of healing he learned the concept that health and disease start in the intestines.”

Dr. Junger compares the human gastrointestinal system to that of plant roots. The intestines absorb nutrients from our food that function as building blocks that make our bodies.  He states that every single organ or function in the body has a direct link to the intestines.”

Up to eighty percent of our immune system is found in the intestines.

In this chapter, Dr. Junger discusses the four major constituents of the gut system.

The first is the intestinal flora. A healthy intestine contains about two pounds of helpful bacteria.”

The system malfunctions  when nutrient depletion results from inadequate intestinal flora. The helpful bacteria protect us from infections and disease-causing bacteria. Beneficial flora, neutralizes toxins before they get into the bloodstream and keep the bowels regularly moving toxins out of the body.

Modern living creates an imbalance in the gut with things like toxic chemicals, medications, especially antibiotics, alcohol, caffeine and stress.

Yeast is one organism that over-grows when intestinal flora is out of balance. Yeast thrives on sweet foods and dairy products and makes us bloated and gassy by irritating the intestinal lining.

Restoring the intestinal flora is part of the Clean program.

The second major constituent is the intestinal wall. The intestinal lining acts as a barrier to unwanted substances from getting inside and to bacteria, toxins and undigested food from getting out into the bloodstream.

When the intestinal wall cells are smooth, this is known as a healthy intestine. Sometimes cracks occur due to lower healthy bacteria levels caused by inflammation, food sensitivity, excessive alcohol, coffee, preservatives, certain types of medications, and other irritants.

When cracks occur the intestines become permeable. This condition is called Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The third major constituent is the gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT). The GALT is the system that mounts the attack against toxic bacteria and chemicals in food and when undigested pieces cross the intestinal-wall barrier, the immune system goes full force.

Dr. Junger states, “Simply from exposure to the standard American diet, our GALT tends to live in a high state of alert, constantly initiating immune responses.”

“Healthy intestinal flora is key to healthy immunity, including ordinary defense against all kinds of colds and bugs.”

The fourth major constituent is nerve cells. Around the intestines and GALT are almost as many nerves cells as in the brain. You know those “gut instincts” you have. The ones that are usually right, but pushed aside when your brain knows better.

It’s because of these nerve cells that the intestines can control their own functions independent of the brain. Apparently, the intestinal nerve cells communicate just like brain neurons — with neurotransmitters.

In fact, Dr. Junger discovered that 80 to 90 percent of the bodies serotonin is made by the intestinal nerve cells. Serotonin is responsible for producing feelings of happiness and well-being.  Isn’t that really interesting?

An equally interesting topic discussed is on gene expression. Things that affect whether a gene is turned on or turned off are; food, emotions, thoughts, accumulated toxins and environmental influences such as heat, light, sound, radiation, etc.

The science of nutrigenomics studies how our food affects gene expression. Researchers at John Hopkins University discovered “sulforaphane” found in the seeds of broccoli, “toned down the expression of certain cancer genes.” Now we know, genes do not equal destiny.

On a personal note, it’s very clear to me where I need to focus my efforts in healing from RA; a healthy intestinal eco-system.

Next post will explore chapter seven, “The Clean Program“.

To read a summary of chapter five, click here.

A journey is always more fun with company and so I thank each and every one from the bottom of my heart for accompanying me on this learning about health experience.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

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