The digestive system explained
It is helpful to first understand the inner workings of our digestive system, and how this affects the rest of our bodies! The digestive system begins at our mouth and extends through to the anus. It is anywhere up to 9 meters in length and houses an extensive intestinal lining, which forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. The digestive tract can be divided into eight parts: the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine and the large intestine (15). The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are accessory organs of the digestive tract that play a role in producing and excreting digestive acids, enzymes and bile to break down food and absorb its essential nutrients (17). Digestion begins in the mouth; chewing begins the process by mechanically breaking down food. Chewing also stimulates the release of saliva, which not only helps digest food in the mouth, but also stimulates the release of digestive acids in the stomach (18). This flow on effect continues throughout the entire digestive tract, until our nutrients have been absorbed and waste has been processed into faeces which are ready to be excreted from the rectum and anus.
Smooth functioning digestion allows for optimal waste excretion (via faeces) and nutrient absorption. These nutrients are then available to be transported to muscles and organs around the body via the blood to be used for energy production, cell turnover and maintenance, neurotransmitter and hormone production, growth and repair, immune processes, and so much more (17)!
What happens when digestion is not working optimally?
When digestion is compromised, waste excretion is limited and nutrient absorption also suffers. This in turn may lead to an inflammatory or toxin build up, and also means that less nutrients are available to do all of the essential jobs listed previously (such as produce energy and maintain healthy cells), which may result in a large array of symptoms including fatigue, skin challenges, low moods, poor concentration, pain, slow wound healing, immune challenges, digestive symptoms, menstrual irregularities, and much more! (17)
Why might digestion become suboptimal?
There are a number of different factors that may disrupt our digestion and gut lining. Food is one of the largest influences, along with stress, medications, and environmental factors (19). Foods that are highly inflammatory, processed, fried and sugary tend to disrupt our gut lining. These foods may negatively impact digestion in a number of ways, often by disrupting bacterial balance (killing ‘healthy’ bacteria and feeding the proliferation of ‘less healthy’ bacteria), promoting inflammatory responses, stimulating excessive mucus production (which silutes digestion and therefore hinders absorption), and compromising the integrity of the gut lining. This is often known as ‘leaky gut’, which involves the separation of gastrointestinal lining cells comparable to cracks or holes. Some compare damage in the gut to a rash on the skin- cracked, red, inflamed and broken. This allows compounds, inflammatory byproducts, partly digested foods and bacteria to “leak” through the intestinal wall, which may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora (normal bacteria) that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond. (11)
What are the benefits of a Gut Cleanse?
A Gut cleanse (aka Colon cleanse) is an effective way of removing toxins from the digestive tract and increasing food digestion and nutrient absorption for optimal health. A cleanse often involves some sort of process that works to reduce load on the digestive tract, promote healing, and facilitate toxin removal in order to restore a damaged (or suboptimal) gut to its ideal state. This in turn helps promote enhanced toxin removal and nutrient absorption, which flows on to more energy, weight loss, glowing skin, eased digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, pian, stool irregularities, etc), happier moods, enhanced immune health, sharper cognition, increased memory, less pain; the list goes on! (20)
Before You Start a Stomach Cleanse
Before beginning a cleanse, it is extremely helpful to identify your goals and motivations behind this decision. This will help you remain focused along the way, and to feel even more success at the end of your program when you can see all of the goals you’ve ticked off! Write a list of what you hope to achieve; be sure to include goals that are not only physical (i.e. weight loss), but also mental/emotional, lifestyle-based, and maybe even relationship! Some examples include:
- Weight loss
- To have more energy
- Feel more confident
- Improve your physical fitness or strength
- Work to ease pain or symptoms (such as headaches, gas, bloating, joint pain etc)
- Achieve glowing skin
- Improve your relationship with food
- Improve concentration and memory
- Feel happier
- Strengthen relationships with loved ones
- … The list goes on!
If you have an existing medical condition or are taking pharmaceutical medications, you are not alone! We have had countless clients with health challenges experience amazing results on our programs! Although we don’t anticipate any challenges from using our patches, products or programs while taking pharmaceutical medications, we recommend consulting your GP as everybody is different and medical histories vary.
How Often Should You Cleanse Your Gut?
How frequently someone participates in a Gut Cleanse is highly variable and personal! In general, the need to participate in a gut cleanse will vary depending on diet, medications, stress level, body composition, lifestyle factors and environmental exposure (i.e. someone working in a job where they are surrounded by more pollutants may need to cleanse their systems more frequently).
In general, it is good practice to complete a gut cleanse 1-2 times per year. Be sure to prioritise a cleanse after antibiotic treatments, times of excess food or alcohol intake (such as holiday periods), periods of high stress or exhaustion, and after recovery from an injury or illness (GP supervision). (19)
What does a Gut Cleanse involve?
A Gut cleanse usually involves diet changes, supplements, or other factors that are designed to do the following:
- Reduce load on the digestive tract: by reducing food volume while simultaneously increasing its quality and digestibility.
- Promote healing of the gut lining: often via supplements of dietary changes, which can promote healthy bacterial growth and cell repair
- Enhanced elimination: dietary modifications such as increased fibre intake can help to bind and eliminate a greater number of toxins. Exercise and certain supplements may also support this action.
How to use Slim By Nature products for a Gut Cleanse:
Looking for a natural, truly holistic way to cleanse your gut?? We’ve got you covered! Here at Slim by nature, we have three key products that can help support cleansing of the gut. They may be used separately or all together for enhanced results!
Each of our perfectly crafted teas have been specially created to manifest health in your life. Our all-natural, organic, herbal blends are tailored to target three key areas of your body; your liver, your adipose tissue, and your colon. Many of the medicinal herbal ingredients used in our teas are able to promote cleansing of the gut:
- LIVER DETOX Tea 1 contains natural herbal remedies that work to stimulate digestive secretions, ease digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, discomfort, constipation and diarrhoea, promote the elimination of toxins from the body (via liver, skin, lymph and blood detoxification), and purify the blood and skin (1)(2)!
- FAT BURNING Tea 2 contains a targeted combination of organically sourced herbal ingredients that are designed to predominantly reduce cravings (by balancing blood sugar and hunger hormones), increase fat burning, and enhance weight loss. However, the warming and healing herbal ingredients contained in this blend also support digestion by soothing the lining of the stomach, facilitating digestive secretions and reducing gas and bloating (3)(4)!
- COLON CLEANSE Tea 3 is the final blend of our 123 that works as a night-cap tea to further support digestion and elimination during your restful sleep! This tea contains carefully blended herbal ingredients that work to eliminate hazardous toxins and waste from the colon walls, clear inflammatory factors from the wall of the digestive tract, improve digestion, enhance circulation, and soothe the wall of your digestive tract, all while you sleep (5)(6)(7)!
- ANTI-INFLAMMATORY TEA is our newest addition to the SBN tea family! This formulation contains a specialised blend of herbal ingredients that work to prevent damage from inflammation and oxidative stress, stimulate digestion, ease stomach discomforts (such as nausea, boating, gas, indigestion, stomach aches/ discomfort, diarrhea, and colic), support detoxification channels, enhance toxin removal, stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid, purify the blood, and much more (8)(9)(10)!
This expertly created product has been primarily designed to increase detox and weight loss results while promoting a restful sleep. However, as an added bonus, this formula also contains ingredients that have been shown to protect and heal the gut. Such ingredients include L-Glutamine. As discussed earlier, cell wall linings of the gut act as a barrier to prevent the absorption of unwanted toxins, allergens and pathogens. When these barriers are damaged, unwanted substances diffuse into the bloodstream and are known to mucosal inflammation and tissue injury, which in turn plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of numerous gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease and infectious enterocolitis (11). Glutamine works to maintain the integrity/health of the guts epithelial cell lining by healing cells and strengthening the tight junctions that connect them (11).
Our SBN detoxes are designed to not only promote rapid and lasting weight loss, but to support a truly holistic detoxification process- this involves enhancing the health and healing of the digestive system! Every Slim By Nature program involves an easy to follow wholesome food plan, the use of detox drops or patches (to stimulate burning, regulate cravings, remove waste, and support detoxification of the liver), and access to our supportive Facebook community and our team of nutritionists.
Our Slim By Nature Detox programs work to enhance digestion and cleanse the gut via two major factors:
- Drops and/or transdermal patches: Our targeted, natural drops and/or transdermal patches contain herbal and homeopathic ingredients that down regulate gut inflammatory responses (12), balance healthy bacteria and promote healing of the digestive tract (13).
- Food: The ‘Approved Foods List’ on our SBN detoxes has been designed to reduce the load on our digestive systems. By consuming a diet high in fibre and simple whole foods, our digestive processes can occur much easier. This allows the body to feed beneficial gut bacteria, reduce fermentation and save energy on acid and enzyme production (14). This energy can then be used to cleanse the gut, repair the integrity of the gut lining, reduce inflammation, detoxify the liver and enhance other healing processes.
Wondering which of Slim By Nature Detox programs to choose? Take our Quiz to discover which program is best for you!
8 Gut Loving Tips:
Below we have included our top 8 tips to help enhance digestion, optimise nutrient absorption, and promote healing of the digestive tract!
- Eat real food: Unprocessed wholefoods (such as fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds, unprocessed animal products etc) are more nutrient dense and easier to digest than highly processed foods! Plus, these types of wholefoods contain beneficial nutrients, fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants and more, which all play a role in keeping our digestive tracts fresh and healthy! It is also worth noting that gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye and barley) have all been shown to cause some level of leaky gut, even in those who are not coeliac or gluten intolerant! (21)
- Salivate: Saliva is produced in the mouth when we chew, when we’re excited for food (think about all the times you felt yourself salivating from the look, smell or thought of food), and when we are calm (many people drool in their sleep). Saliva contains digestive components that work to break down food in the mouth, and then stimulate stomach acid secretions. Aim to chew your food until it is basically a liquid before swallowing. (18)
- Reduce stress: The digestive system functions optimally when the body is Parasympathetic dominant, also known as ‘rest and digest’. When this occurs, blood and resources are sent to our digestive system, allowing for enhanced secretions and functioning. If we eat while stressed, or in ‘fight or flight’ mode, blood is sent away from the gut and digestion is compromised. Avoid eating too quickly, in the car/on the run, and while working. Instead, take a few deep breaths before eating and sit in a calm, quiet place free from distractions. (19)
- Avoid harmful substances: Reduce/avoid exposure to smoking, alcohol, antibiotics, other avoidable drugs/medications (i.,e. recreational drugs, panadol), and environmental toxins such as harmful cleaning products, pollution, and chemical skin care.
- Grow healthy bacteria:
- Probiotic foods (fermented foods): Consume a source of fermented foods as often as possible- aim for at least several times a week. This includes sauerkraut/kimchi, coconut yoghurt, miso, tempeh, kombucha, sourdough bread, kefir, and certain dairy products. (22)
- Prebiotic foods (fibre): Ensure your diet includes fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains (such as quinoa and brown rice),nuts and seeds, as these prebiotic foods work to feed the healthy probiotic bacteria. (23)
- Rainbow plant foods: Research shows that the largest factor influencing the health of our gut bacteria is the food we eat- the larger variety of plant foods we eat, the stronger our bacterial quality and quantity (16).
- Stimulate digestive secretions: 20 minutes before a meal, drink either lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or our SBN teas to help promote digestive acids, enzymes and bile, and therefore enhance food breakdown and nutrient absorption for a healthier gut and body. (24)
- Avoid diluting your stomach acids. During a meal, aim to drink no more than 1 glass of water as too much can dilute your digestive secretions and reduce their effectiveness. It is incredibly important to keep hydrated throughout the day, so we recommend drinking the majority of your water at least 30 minutes either side of your main meals.
- Movement: Gentle exercise (after meals or throughout the day) can help to support a healthy gut in a number of ways. Impact exercise helps to stimulate peristalsis (the contractions of muscles in the intestines that create wave-like movements essential for pushing contents of the canal forward) (25). Research also shows that exercise helps cultivate healthy gut bacteria, support healthy hormones (essential for mood and digestive functions), and stimulate detoxification and elimination via a number of different channels (26).
Completing a natural gut cleanse can be an effective way to heal a damaged digestive tract, ease digestive symptoms and enhance toxin removal and elimination. This in turn can increase our ability to absorb beneficial nutrients, providing us with more energy, less pain, enhanced moods, and so much more!