Inflammation is triggered by the immune system in an attempt to protect the body, remove harmful stimuli and begin the healing process. Initially, it’s actually a good thing. Our bodies are incredibly smart and powerful systems that work to send healing to the distressed area - without us even thinking about it! However, extended period of inflammation within the body can create some issues.
Inflammation can exist in various different places in the body. If we scrape a knee, inflammation occurs at the site, with the potential to grow if the injury isn’t properly taken care of. Unfortunately, we brush up against multiple inflammation-causing sources in our day-to-day lives, like processed foods, air pollution, overexertion, and stress. The digestive process is among the most energy-intensive in the human body. When the body is busy sending healing to a damaged area, the capacity to fully digest food decreases - it’s simply too overwhelmed. Take the nervous system for example, when we are in “fight-or-flight” mode, the digestive process slows, because the body goes to save energy to flee from danger.
IT'S ALL CONNECTED
Every system in the body is connected. The digestive system and the hormonal system don’t exist independently from one another, they affect one another. At the center of all health is a properly functioning digestive system and a healthy gut. Here lies the connection between inflammation and the digestive system.
Sixty to eighty percent of our immune system is located in our gut. When our gut is in a state of imbalance, the issue is much bigger than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and more. Some bad gut bacteria actually promote inflammation as a response to stress.
GUT HEALTH IS WHOLE BODY HEALTH
With its connection to the immune system, there is no surprise that our gut health is directly linked to our overall health - our ability to fight disease, inflammation and possible invaders. One of the most common gut imbalances people are suffering from today is leaky gut syndrome, also known as increased intestinal permeability.
The lining of our digestive tract is one single cell layer thick. These cells form a barrier between our bloodstream, immune system (which governs inflammation), and the outside world. In a healthy body, these cells are closely locked together forming “tight junctions”. These tight junctions form a protective barrier in the gut, making sure that everything we eat is properly processed and nutrients are well assimilated. When they break down, we develop what is called leaky gut syndrome. With space in between these tight junctions, bacteria and toxins, undigested proteins and fats, and waste leak out of the intestines into the bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation in the body.
As you can see, the connection between inflammation and digestion goes both ways. Poor digestion can cause inflammation, and inflammation can cause poor digestion.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
One of the best ways to immediately decrease inflammation and strengthen the digestive system is to ditch the most common food sensitivities. These are foods that spark inflammation in most people, leaving the digestive system damaged and overworked. Additionally, over time these foods can cause much larger issues like disease. These common trigger foods include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, corn, soy, nightshades, eggs, and peanuts. Removing the most common food triggers allows inflammation to die down and the digestive system to relax, rejuvenate and heal.
Supplementing your wellness plan with digestive enzymes is another good idea. They really ensure that food is properly digested and nutrients are properly assimilated. Overall this helps the digestive process and leads to less inflammation. Fortunately, the 21-Day Clean Program is founded on these two concepts, along with two pre-blended meals to further decrease inflammation and give the digestive system a much-needed break.
Written by Hannah Aylward
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like The Connection Between Probiotics and Weight Loss