Get a snapshot of the state of your entire gut with these simple DIY home tests

Much of our health and wellbeing relies on the ability of the gut to digest what we eat and absorb all its goodness.

Many people suffer with digestive issues such as bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerances or discomfort after eating. Your body needs a constant source of fuel in the form of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and understanding how the gut works, testing its efficiency and then righting any imbalances can often be the key to feeling well and energized.

Take these tests—most of which you can do at home—to get an instant snapshot of the state of your digestion and follow these practices to improve every aspect of your gut health.

Your stomach: the food processor

The stomach, which sits in the upper left area of your tummy, is your food processor. It can hold around 1.5 quarts of food and drink, and it takes about seven seconds for that food to get from your mouth to your stomach and about four hours for a moderate meal to be processed.

Your stomach does this by secreting hydrochloric acid (HCL) and peptic enzymes to digest proteins, break up fiber and soften any connective tissue in foods, killing off any bugs or parasites in the process, before delivering it to the small intestine.

Many stomach issues, such as heartburn and indigestion, arise from eating too quickly and can be resolved by simply slowing down at mealtimes and taking care to chew each morsel 20 times before swallowing, allowing your saliva to start breaking down the food long before it hits your stomach.

If, however, you’re still having the same issues after eating, then it might be time to test your HCL levels. Once you have the answer, then it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor for further advice and to rule out more serious issues.

Enzymes

We have around 3,000 different varieties of enzymes in our body, which are involved in vast numbers of metabolic processes and functions, including helping you to digest food, repair and renew, as well as keep your immune system strong. As we age, our levels of digestive enzymes decrease, so a 70-year-old has half the amount of a 20-year-old.

Enzymes are found naturally in raw or fermented foods, but they’re destroyed by cooking. Much of what we eat is cooked or processed, so most of our food nowadays is almost entirely lacking in enzymes.

Low enzyme levels make you age faster and put on weight, and they’re also linked to chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

Enzyme aids

Here are the enzyme aids that help digestion:

Natural enzymes. Found in raw organic foods, especially fruits and vegetables, but also unpasteurized milk, egg yolks, sauerkraut and kimchi. Natural enzymes are good for the immune system, joints and arteries.

Digestive enzymes. Found mainly in your gut, digestive enzymes help minimize indigestion, acid reflux, bloating and gas.There are three main classes of digestive enzymes in the body:

  • Amylases, which break down carbohydrates
  • Lipases,which break down fats
  • Proteases,which break down proteins.

All three types of digestive enzymes are produced in the pancreas and found naturally in raw fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, raw nuts, whole grains and legumes. Most supplements will contain these three plus a combination of additional supporting enzymes.

healthy-foods

Lemons

Home Test: The lemon juice test

Acid reflux and heartburn are more often a result of too little stomach acid (HCL) than too much.2

If this is something you suffer from, the next time you have stomach pain, try swallowing a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.

If the pain goes away, you may have too little stomach acid.

If the pain worsens, then you may have too much stomach acid and possibly an ulcer, so be sure to consult your doctor.

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