What are the symptoms of poor digestion?
Digestive problems can arise for any number of reasons: stress, diet (and dieting), medication and the way in which you eat your food (going too quickly, eating on the move, not chewing enough etc.) all have an impact. These may contribute to the likes of constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and heartburn.
If you do suffer from a digestive problem, be it a condition like leaky gut or food intolerance, or even if symptoms are related to an aspect of your lifestyle such as stress, this may contribute to the onset of allergy symptoms. 70% of our immune cells are found in the gut after all, and so it’s quite likely that if the health of the gut is compromised, the immune system will be too.
What is leaky gut?
Low stomach acid, an imbalance in gut bacteria, or both (the two often go hand in hand) are in many cases thought to give rise to leaky gut. Leaky gut affects the structure of the cells within the gut meaning they no longer stand tightly together.
As a result, larger food particles can pass through the gut wall and are then able to travel through our system only partially digested. This leads to problematic symptoms such as bloating, pain and discomfort. As well as this though, pathogens can also slip through the expanded gut wall thus contributing to inflammation.
Does leaky gut cause allergies?
In time leaky gut can overwhelm the immune system meaning it is less able to decide what is dangerous and what is not. Pathogens are deemed troublesome for example, because they include flu viruses and other disease-causing bacteria.
The likes of pollen and animal dander on the other hand, should be able to pass through without issue because they don’t pose any threat to the body. However, under the growing pressure caused by leaky gut the immune system may begin to identify harmless substances such as pollen particles as dangerous.
Can allergies cause digestive problems?
Research shows that inflammation, a common allergy symptom, can damage villi which are small structures in the gut wall that help to absorb digested food.1 This can contribute to the likes of diarrhoea, constipation and nausea.
That’s not all though; the same research also showed that inflammation impaired the effectiveness of the epithelial barrier which helps to protect the body from physical and chemical damage. So, from this we can see there is a close link between allergies and digestion – not only do digestive problems lead to allergies, they can also be caused by allergies too.
How do you fix digestive problems?
Our digestion expert Ali has written many blogs on how to deal with digestive upset and although she’ll admit there isn’t always a quick fix, below I have picked out a few of her top tips to help you deal with any issues as soon as possible.
- Sit down to eat (no rushing about!) and chew! This activates the digestive enzymes and sends messages down the system so that we are better able to digest food
- Sit up straight whilst eating to give your digestive system the space and time to work properly
- Don’t drink more than half a glass of anything within 20 minutes of a meal to avoid diluting digestive juices. Drinking with meals also encourages us to wash down food rather than chewing it properly
- Keep caffeine and refined sugar intake to a minimum
- Drink plenty of water before and after eating, though not during it
- Eat at set meal times as anticipating food allows our digestive system to prepare for its arrival by producing digestive enzymes
- Eat lightly when stressed
- Exercise can improve a sluggish bowel – walks, swims and cycles are ideal!
Natural remedies for digestive problems
Here at A.Vogel we have a whole range of herbal remedies that may help to ease digestive problems. With its mix of freshly harvested Artichoke, Dandelion, Peppermint and dried Boldo for example, Digestisan can bring relief from the likes of bloating, flatulence and indigestion.
Silicol gel contains an ingredient called silicic acid which has the ability to bind to a variety of harmful and toxic substances. This can, in turn, bring relief from heartburn and acid reflux, as well as diarrhoea and flatulence. Our digestion expert Ali often recommends this for people with IBS as it can have quite a soothing effect on the stomach.
The proliferation of unfriendly bacteria such as Candida in the gut can contribute to bloating, wind, food cravings and in this instance our Molkosan Original may be of benefit. This is rich in L+ lactic acid which supports good gut bacteria
Finally, Linoforce contains ingredients such as linseed, senna and frangula which have traditionally been used to ease constipation.
To sum up…
With an unhappy digestive system, you’re much more likely to drive sub-clinical inflammation which can, in turn, contribute to the development of leaky gut. Unnecessary ‘leakiness,’ can put the immune system on high alert so that it doesn’t work so effectively. This means excess histamine production is more likely to become problematic, and allergies are then much more likely to emerge.
Supporting each stage of your digestion by working through some of the tips above can be a useful first step in helping to keep the symptoms of allergies under control. As Hippocrates once stated: ‘all disease starts in the gut’; and this is thought to be relevant when it comes to allergic responses too!