Food intolerances such as gluten, dairy, wheat and yeast have been given a lot of media time recently, especially surrounding the digestion issues they cause. People often assume that their poor digestion must be caused by a food intolerance. However, as a clinical nutritionist that specialises in gut dysfunction, I believe that this is often missing the big picture and it is not the foods themselves that have become more intolerable, but our digestive systems are out of balance, not working like they should do. This can result in our bodies finding more and more foods difficult to digest, causing symptoms that may seem like that of a food intolerance. It therefore stands to reason that, in order to heal the problem, it is not the foods themselves that need to be taken out of the diet long term, but the gut that needs to be nurtured back so that is can digest and tolerate these foods.
In terms of functional imbalances, there are two common areas that cause digestive tract to perform under-par. Firstly your gut flora is key. This complex community of microorganisms, that lives mainly in our large intestine, not only helps us digest and absorb our food, but also has an effect on our immune system, mental health, detoxification and hormonal balance. In fact, they can affect pretty much anything in the body, positively if we have the right balance of beneficial flora but also negatively if it becomes overrun with non-beneficial flora. This is called dysbiosis. Our modern diets and lifestyles have been shown to have a negative effect on our flora, everything from anti-biotics, pain killers, to sugar and alcohol as well as stress or illness can knock it out of whack.
Secondly is low grade inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. It is often related to dysbiosis and goes hand in hand. It maybe that foods no longer tolerated by the gut cause it to become inflamed or there is immune over-response. Equally stress or environmental factors may lead to this inflammation. This inflammation can lead to discomfort, changes in motility and ‘leaky gut’ which means that it could translate into body wide intolerance symptoms such as skin inflammation, allergy type symptoms or brain fog and migraines.
So what can we learn from this? Well, to recover from digestion issues or even just to prevent them developing in the first place it is important to do two things. Firstly, look after your precious flora and secondly dampen any inflammatory fires. This is where adding organic Aloe Vera leaf inner gel to your everyday diet can be a huge game changer. We all know Aloe Vera has a soothing effect on our skin. The same is true for the gut lining as it soothes and down-regulates immune response inflammation where it is not needed. Reduced chronic inflammation can not only help your digestive function today but will also help your long term health and wellbeing reducing the risk of developing disease. Aloe Vera also contains fibres that feed our beneficial gut flora, allowing them to populate and thrive, working against any dysbiosis that may be occurring. Taking Aloe Vera orally as a gel every day, can be a vital nutritional support and defence for your digestion, rebalancing it to healthy state where food intolerances and digestion symptoms become a thing of the past.
Libby is a London based, degree qualified Nutritional Therapist