Last week I had the good fortune of interviewing Dr. Liz Lipski, author of Digestive Wellness, Digestive Wellness for Children, and Leaky Gut Syndrome. Among other things, she explained why so many of us are having problems with leaky gut and digestion.
Not surprising, the second issue is that we're now producing a lot of genetically engineered food, which is a rather complex subject. There's still a lot we don't know about foods that have been genetically modified, but this issue is slowly moving to the forefront of public consciousness.
The third issue is that the digestive system runs much better when we’re relaxed. That's why, when we sit down to a meal, we often say grace. It gives us a chance to stop from the busyness of our day, to give thanks, and to just relax. That’s what the digestive system really needs in order to work right. Unfortunately, many of us eat while on the run—at our desks, in our cars, or standing up in the kitchen—and that contributes to digestive issues.
Also, many of us are eating foods that aren’t the right foods for us. Does this sound like you? We're eating huge amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Those types of foods tend to promote the growth of bugs, bacteria, and yeast in our gut, which makes us feel unwell.
Also, most of us don’t eat enough fiber, so that also slows down the whole digestive process and makes us feel sluggish.
As you know, many of us turn to food when we're under stress, and stress contributes to heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. I think much of this really boils down to living in a crazed 21st century! But, it’s also about the quality of the foods we’re eating. In large part, we’re eating over-processed, nutrient-lacking foods that aren’t good for our bodies.
But, it wasn’t always that way.
Here's how Dr. Lipski explained the evolution of our food supply and how our bodies are now reacting to genetically modified foods:
In the 1970s, we also started the green revolution. Dr. Borlaug, “father of the green revolution,” is attributed with saving over a billion people’s lives by preventing starvation by growing so much more wheat on the same amount of land. However, the quality of that wheat has really changed. Even though you can grow more of it, nobody ever asked how that affects our health.
Thus, in the ‘70s we started eating a quality of wheat that is actually not great for us. Early in the 1990s, we then started getting all the genetically engineered foods: corn, canola, and soy. Now, so much of our food is genetically modified.
Again, it seemed like it was growing really well, but nobody ever asked the question, “Is it good for us?” Now we’re eating a lot of new-to-nature foods as the bulk of our diet, and nobody really knows what these foods do.
We’re starting to see that they increase inflammation and often will activate the immune system. One of the cool things about the digestive system that I love so much is that two-thirds to 75 percent of the immune system is located in the digestive system. The reason it’s there is because we’re taking in pounds of food every day that are, in effect, saying, “I want to be just like you.”
When we eat food that’s new-to-nature, our immune system shrugs its shoulders and says, “I don’t know. What is this? What’s sodium benzoate? I don’t know what that is. What is artificial dye? I don’t know what that is.” Thus, the immune system starts reacting to some of the foods we’re eating. I think that’s the main reason why we’re having so many problems.
This field is an emerging field called nutritional genomics. It’s all about how our food relates to our immune and nervous systems, and what that food tells us. For so long we’ve looked at food like it’s simply protein, fats, and carbohydrates. We put it in food categories: “This is a protein,” “This is a fat,” and “This is a carbohydrate.”
Now I look at food and think, “Food is information. What information am I giving to my genes and cells? What is that information going to do for how well I feel?” It’s a completely different way of looking at food.
Isn't that a fascinating way to look at the foods you're eating—as information for your genes and cells to absorb? If you enjoyed Dr. Lipski's views on this subject, be sure to listen to our entire discussion on digestion, leaky gut syndrome, and autism. You'll be amazed at what you discover about your own digestive system and the foods you eat!
Here are some of the areas we cover in the interview:
• What exactly is leaky gut?
• Why is it important to know about it? How can I tell if I have it?
• If I have it, what can I do about it?
• Why are we seeing such a rise in autism, ADD/ADHD, and childhood illnesses?
• What role does diet play in autism?
• What role do specialized diets play in all of this? How can I determine which diet would work best for me or my family?
• How long must I stay on a specialized diet for it to be effective?
• How do I know if I'm gluten intolerant or have celiac disease?