Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Diabetes Affects the Digestive System

Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, occurs in a body that does not produce sufficient insulin or, in some cases, the body does produce it, but the cells do not respond for various reasons. The result is elevated blood sugar which affects the body in a myriad of ways.

One important bodily function that is affected by diabetes is digestion. The digestive process is basic to existence because it is the means by which the body receives nutrition from food and drink and thus creates energy to move and repair cells. Disruption of this process can cause many issues, some of them serious or life-threatening in nature.

The Normal Digestive Process
The process of digestion begins far north of the gastrointestinal tract with which we associate it. With the help of enzymes found in saliva, the mouth begins to break down food as soon as a bite of food enters the lips. At this point, the main ingredient of digestion is to break down the food into smaller pieces that can be swallowed. These smaller pieces are swept to the back of the mouth and enter a thin tube called the esophagus. The person enjoying his dinner need not think about his digestion at all since tiny contractions automatically move his food through the digestive process.

The food next enters the part of the body most people think of when considering digestion, the stomach. Acids within the stomach go to work on the food, breaking it down further. Whereas the mouth broke down the carbohydrates in the food particles, the stomach starts breaking down the proteins of the food. When the food leaves the stomach, it is a fairly liquid substance called chyme. This occurs about four hours after the food enters the stomach. The next destination for the digesting food is the intestines.

The small intestine begins sorting the components of food. Bile from the liver dissolves fat and juices in the intestinal lining continuing the breaking down of the food into macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These and micronutrients of the food, vitamins and minerals, absorb into the blood stream from the small intestine. What is left moves through the remainder of the intestines and exits the body within approximately 24 hours.

Digestion Compromised By Diabetes
The beauty of the digestive system is its automatic quality. Since no one has to perform voluntary action to digest food, digestion is controlled by the nervous system. Unfortunately, the nerves of a diabetic person are damaged by continual elevation of the blood sugar. This causes digestion to be impaired by such problems as heartburn, diarrhea and constipation. When digestion is not working properly, the nutrients in food are not absorbed as they should be. Ironically, many diabetic people are overweight from excess blood sugar while the cells in their body are literally starving and emaciated. Diabetics also tend to have poor circulation as well. This causes the immune system to slow its response, making diabetes sufferers more susceptible to infection and disease. Energy levels are often at an all-time low as well, which in turn leads to being over weight.

Probiotics May Help Diabetic Digestion
If the body is not breaking down and absorbing nutrients properly, it needs help. While not a solution to diabetes in itself, many diabetics have found success with probiotic bacteria supplementation. These digestive enzymes can aid the digestion process, allowing the body to more effectively break down nutrients, and provide their starving cells with sustenance. Some studies have even tied some forms of obesity to a poor microfloral gut environment, suggesting that supplementation may even help to reduce weight - a major contributor to type 2 diabetes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The (Not So) Hidden Dangers of Homogenized Milk

Milk is nature’s way of providing substance from a mother to her young. It is a perfect delivery mechanism to supply an infant with lactoferrins, immunoglobulins and protein - necessary nutrition for development. Homogenization takes that perfect process and transforms it into something else. The goal of treating milk is to add consistency to the liquid. Without it, the cream would separate. While the end goal is practical, the means add hidden dangers to what is a naturally healthy drink.

What Homogenization Does to Milk
Milk contains butterfat globules, or lumps, that rise to the top of the liquid. Homogenization is a blending that breaks down the lumpy areas, so it has a more consistent texture - an appealing trait particularly for commercial distribution. Without this mechanical process, you would feel and taste the butterfat...or scrape the cream off the top!

The Danger of Homogenization
Homogenization is an effective way to create a more appealing texture for milk, but it also changes the base structure of the proteins. Raw milk is easier to digest than homogenized products. Once altered through homogenization, milk becomes harder for the body to process.

Each system in the body has a function. Part of the job of the digestive tract is to filter foods. Like most filters, smaller substances can slip through the grid. Through the process of homogenization, the long chains of proteins are broken down into tiny units that do not digest properly. These smaller chains slip through the filter to enter the bloodstream.

The immune system's job is to protect the body from foreign invaders. When it detects a foreign body, the system takes action to contain and destroy it. This is the very same process that occurs when you get an infection. When undigested protein enters the bloodstream, it has the potential to trigger an immune response which can lead to inflammation and a myriad of unpleasant symptoms.

The same mechanism that breaks the protein chains will also reduce the size of the fat globules in the milk. The butterfat does not disappear. The lumps just gets so small you don’t know they are there. This makes them tiny enough to evade the filter in the digestive tract. Once in the blood, that fat can increase the risk of heart disease.

Do Hormones Trigger Cancer?
A secondary problem to homogenization is the introduction of hormones into the body. Digestion removes most potentially harmful elements in cow’s milk, but homogenization allows certain substances to bypass that protection filter. This includes:

  • Fat
  • Proteins
  • Hormones
  • Steroids
Some of the components are natural elements in milk while others are fed to the animal to increase production. When it comes to hormones and steroids, the human body doesn’t know the difference between what is natural and what is man-made. When humans ingest a growth hormone given to the cow, it may trigger the proliferation of cancer cells.

Altering the Process
When homogenization changes the structure of the milk, it alters the natural process. This can put people at risk for serious illnesses. Homogenization can increase the chances of developing:

  • Digestive issues
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
A study by Connecticut cardiologists Oster and Ross showed that Bovine Xanthene Oxidase (BXO) was able to survive digestion. The doctors’ paper, published in the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (vol. 163:1981), states that milk antibodies were elevated in male patients diagnosed with heart disease.

In addition, there was evidence that the fat globules changed shape during homogenization to become irritants on the walls of arteries. This irritation causes the body to create cholesterol to protect the walls like insulation. This may be one reason for the increase in heart disease among young people.

In an attempt to make milk better, the dairy industry has gone against nature. Raw milk is a natural substance. Homogenized milk is not. Common sense tells you that going against a natural process is going to be a problem. Medical science is burying its head to the fact that there are hidden dangers in the homogenization of cow's milk that can lead to chronic illness and even the possibility of terminal disease.