A Natural Remedy To Protect Gut Health

By: Qingyao Shi, Lic. Acu.

Being aware of and maintaining gut health can change your life: it's a solution to weight, poor digestion, achiness, clear thinking, beautiful skin, blood vessel health, and so much more. A healthy gut holds one of the keys to a long life. In fact, in Chinese medicine, there are two major energy centers in our bodies: kidneys are the innate energy center while the digestive system is the acquired one.

The intestine is directly related to our health. 99% of nutrients require intestinal absorption while 80% of the body’s toxins are excreted by the intestine; furthermore, 70% of the body’s immunity is derived from the gut. This is all due to the presence of tens of thousands of gut flora, or microorganisms, in the intestine. Intestinal bacteria can be divided into beneficial bacteria, harmful bacteria, and neutral bacteria. Normally, these three types of bacteria maintain a dynamic and balanced relationship. Beneficial bacteria are the dominant bacteria, but harmful bacteria also can play a role in ensuring that the environment is in a good stable state. If the gut is in this normal balance, your stool should be golden yellow, banana-shaped, medium-thick, and non-sticky. However, if there are spherical or granular stools, the result of dry stools, or watery and soft stools, it can be an indication of an imbalance in the intestinal microbiome.

Why is gut health important?

Everyone’s microbiome is unique, but there are a few generalities concerning what’s healthy and what’s not. “In healthy people, there is a diverse array of organisms,” says Dr. Gail Hecht, chair of the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research & Education. (Most of those organisms are bacteria, but there are viruses, fungi, and other microbes as well.) “In an unhealthy individual, there’s much less diversity, and there seems to be an increase of bacteria we associate with disease.”

Some bacteria fight inflammation while others promote it. When the gut works as it should, these two types keep each other in check. But when that delicate balance gets skewed, inflammatory bacteria can take over. These bacteria produce metabolites that pass through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, spreading the inflammation to other parts of the body.

Specific types of bacteria in the gut can also lead to other conditions as well. Studies in both animals and humans have linked some bacteria to lower immune function while others are associated with a greater risk of asthma and allergies. Still others have connections to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases.

What affects gut health?

The food you eat plays a role in the bacterial makeup of your gut, but so do a lot of other factors, including the nature of your birth. Research shows that breastfeeding may also foster beneficial gut bacteria.

The environment you grow up in matters too. More exposure to germs and bacteria, within reason, can strengthen our microbiomes.

Emotional stress also has influence. Scientists refer to the “gut-brain axis,” a pathway through which signals from the gut can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, and vice versa. Research is still in early stages, but a person’s microbiome and mental state thus far appear to be able to influence each other to some extent.

There is also the effects of medications to take into account, including over-the-counter painkillers and drugs used to treat acid reflux, diabetes, and psychiatric conditions. All have been linked to microbiome changes, but the best-known gut-altering drugs are antibiotics: although they’re prescribed to kill harmful bacteria, they can also wipe out other beneficial bacteria.

“I’ve seen patients on antibiotics develop allergies, or become more susceptible to infection, or have motility issues, all because their microbiota composition suddenly changes,” says Dr. Robert Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Antibiotics should be prescribed when they’re needed to fight bacterial infections, but doctors and patients should be careful about overuse.

Can you tell if you’re having problems in your gut?

When the microbiome is thrown out of balance for any reason, it’s often easy to tell. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea are all pretty direct signs that something in the gut isn’t working as it should. These imbalances often fix themselves after a short time, but if they become chronic, they may require a medical diagnosis and treatment. (Gastroenterologists can test for specific conditions associated with the microbiome.) In recent years, though, there has been an overgrowth of commercial testing kits that will analyze a stool sample and provide information about the strains of bacteria detected. However, if you’re looking for advice about your health, doctors say the kits are not worth the money. “We don’t know enough to make those readouts meaningful yet,” says Dr. Robert Hirten, “We know in general what looks like inflammatory and noninflammatory bacteria, but in a practical sense we can’t measure it or match specific bacteria to specific diseases.”

How can I maintain my gut health?

You don’t have to know exactly what’s going on in your gut at all times, but as long as you’re following doctor’s orders for overall health, your microbiome is likely benefiting. Following a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s sleep will help you to stay healthy overall and maintain a healthy gut. Similarly, the same habits that are bad for your heart, lungs, and brain—including cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake—can also hurt the microbiome. Avoid taking unnecessary medications, and talk to your doctor about how your current drug regimen might affect your gut health. Your gut bacteria live off whatever is leftover in your colon after your cells have digested all of the nutrients and amino acids. Thus, eating a wide variety of foods, including plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is the best way to encourage a diverse and healthy microbiome.

Should I take probiotics?

Many commercial dietary supplements claim to boost gut health and introduce good bacteria, but the science is still out on the real-life benefits of probiotic pills and capsules. One potential problem is that even though probiotics should contain live bacterial cultures, the supplement industry isn’t well regulated, and there’s no guarantee that what’s in the bottle matches what’s on the label. What’s more, studies have been inconclusive about whether probiotic supplements improve gut health for everyone. The evidence is much stronger for people with specific health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, than those without. “A lot of probiotic strains are not what you would naturally find in large quantities in the human intestine,” says Hecht. “So you can eat them or drink them, but they won’t necessarily stay and colonize, and they won’t necessarily do you any good.”

Acupuncture and NAET Are the Ideal Solution For Gut Heath

The general concept of acupuncture is that it removes the blockage from the energy meridians to make the body function better. There are 12 basic meridians of the body, all named for the organs, such as the heart meridian, lung meridian, stomach meridian, etc. They are the pathways of body energy, and this free flow of energy ensures health. Otherwise, the body is in a state of discomfort or illness. Acupuncture works directly on large intestine or small intestine meridians to clear the blockage. Especially when combined with NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques), acupunture can often reverse food or environment allergies efficiently.

Apple Water: The Most Effective Gut Saver

Probiotics and all the beneficial bacterias need a good environment to grow so that they can then aid your health. However, some intestines are too poor to colonize. For thousand years, Chinese medicine has used apple water as a remedy for creating a better intestinal environment and helping the beneficial bacterias grow. Patients that I have recommended apple water to as a self-treatment have reported that it stopped their long term diarrhea and even some constipation. To make this apple water, do as follows:

  1. Two big apples (or three small ones): Wash carefully, keep the skin and seeds, and chop into small pieces.
  2. Put into a pressure cooker, and add 24 ounces of cold water. Cook for 10 minutes. After it has cooled down, use a strainer to filter the water out. Throw the leftover chunks away, and use the filtered apple water as a daily treatment. If you don't have a pressure cooker, use a normal cooking pot; then, boil and simmer for 40 minutes, repeating the same filtering process.
  3. Keep the apple water in the refrigerator, and drink a fifth of it once daily in the morning as it’s better on an empty stomach. The amount made should be enough for 5 days worth of doses.

If you are suffering from diarrhea, constipation, gassy, or other GI problems, it may take anywhere from several weeks to a month to feel any difference. However, once the difference is felt, you will feel immensely better.