Participants: Agatha Thrash (Host), Rhonda Clark
Series Code: HYTH
Program Code: HYTH000218
00:01 As common as eating is very few people understand all about,
00:06 digestion, and there are some parts that we know a lot about
00:11 but the common person knows nothing about.
00:15 So we would like to talk with you some today
00:16 about this process of digestion, what eating does in the process
00:22 of digestion, what your program can do in this
00:25 process of digestion, I think you will enjoy the program.
00:49 Welcome to Help Yourself to Health
00:52 with Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute,
00:55 and now here is your host Dr. Thrash.
00:59 Now you may think that because eating and digestion
01:07 are so common, after all you have done it thousands of times,
01:11 that there isn't anything really very complex about this process,
01:15 but actually there is.
01:17 Now I would like you to come with me and try to understand
01:21 this whole subject of digestion and the selection of foods
01:27 and just what we can do to make it so that indeed
01:32 this complex process runs as smoothly as we can make it
01:38 and leaves us as healthy as possible,
01:41 so I've asked Rhonda Clark to come and help me with this
01:45 thing of explaining this matter of the complexity of digestion
01:50 and Rhonda is one of my colleagues at Uchee Pines,
01:54 and Rhonda what do you do at Uchee Pines mainly?
01:58 - I work currently in the Lifestyle Center,
02:00 where I do telephone counseling with individuals who call
02:03 with health questions, I also am one of the instructors
02:06 in the Lifestyle Education course.
02:09 - Now Rhonda, I suspect that you have to do counseling
02:14 with people on this very complicated subject of digestion
02:18 because digestive complaints are so common.
02:20 - Indeed they are, we frequently discuss these issues with people
02:24 over the phone.
02:25 Not only for those who suffer from the complaints,
02:27 but for those who want to prevent them.
02:29 - And is G.E.R.D. ever one of those things?
02:33 - G.E.R.D. indeed is, G.E.R.D. is the four initials G.E.R.D.
02:40 it stands for gastro esophageal reflux disease.
02:44 It's quite common, about 20% of Americans suffer
02:48 from G.E.R.D., and while some people may take it lightly
02:52 it can lead to more serious conditions: a narrowing of the
02:57 esophagus, which makes it difficult to swallow,
02:59 or ultimately esophageal cancer.
03:02 One of the important structures in the anatomy of the
03:06 digestion system plays a critical role in G.E.R.D.
03:09 The esophagus is the tube that brings the food
03:13 from our mouth to our stomach, and as the esophagus
03:16 joins with the stomach, right there is a small ring
03:20 of muscular tissue known as the cardiac sphincter.
03:24 The cardiac sphincter plays a crucial role,
03:27 in the sense that it separates the stomach contents from
03:31 the esophagus.
03:33 When the cardiac sphincter is relaxed, it's open and food
03:38 and beverages can pass freely into the stomach,
03:41 when it contracts, it closes and protects the esophagus
03:45 from the acid contents of the stomach.
03:47 What happens in G.E.R.D., is that the cardiac sphincter
03:52 is not functioning properly and stomach contents
03:55 splash up on to the esophagus causing pain and spasm.
03:59 One of the main causes of G.E.R.D. is back pressure
04:07 on the cardiac sphincter, some of the things that cause that
04:11 and things that should strictly be avoided if you suffer
04:15 from G.E.R.D. are things such as tight belts,
04:19 or bands around the abdomen, which put pressure upward
04:23 against that delicate sphincter.
04:25 Even wearing tight clothing on the lower half of the body
04:29 can cause that back pressure, overeating, a very common cause,
04:35 where the little sphincter constantly has that pressure
04:38 against it.
04:40 Taking liquids in large amounts with meals,
04:43 even taking in large amounts of gas producing beverages
04:47 like soda pop, or gas producing vegetables
04:51 and other foods help put that pressure there.
04:55 Constipation, pregnancy, these are conditions which put
05:02 back pressure against and can contribute to G.E.R.D.
05:05 and there are some drugs that play a role by relaxing
05:10 the cardiac sphincter, caffeine being one of the most common
05:14 but some of the common over the counter pain relievers
05:18 like Tylenol, aspirin, they play a role, anti-depressant
05:22 medications also do that, and tranquilizers,
05:25 some of the sleeping medications.
05:27 Another common cause is laying down or reclining
05:31 after a meal, or exerting oneself strenuously after eating
05:36 a meal, so you begin to see how G.E.R.D. is treated then
05:40 in avoiding those activities, or those drugs,
05:45 that put back pressure on this delicate sphincter.
05:49 Other things that we look at in the treatment of G.E.R.D.,
05:52 one very healthful treatment is going to a two meal
05:57 eating plan, this ensures by leaving off the third meal
06:01 of the day, that the stomach is completely empty
06:04 by the time one retires, so that as they lay down
06:08 to prepare for bed, there's nothing there to press against
06:11 the cardiac sphincter.
06:13 Another helpful treatment is to go for walks after meals
06:18 these are not to be strenuous or vigorous walks,
06:21 but nice brisk walks that are gentle exercise using the force
06:26 of gravity, the motion of the body to help keep the
06:29 stomach contents down in the stomach and protecting
06:33 the esophagus from any flowing upwards.
06:36 If the person has pain with G.E.R.D., one lovely treatment
06:41 is to take Aloe Vera juice, a couple ounces
06:45 when there is pain can help relieve the discomfort of
06:48 the esophagus, one interesting thing about G.E.R.D.
06:54 is that it can cause a very uncomfortable condition
06:58 known as cardio-spasm, and Dr. Thrash, I imagine
07:02 you have had some experience in treating patients
07:06 or counseling patients with cardio spasm.
07:08 - Oh yes, it is indeed quite common, in fact just last week
07:13 I had a patient, I had been counseling with her for a number
07:17 of years about various things, one is tight clothing,
07:20 tight bands around the waist and as she complained
07:23 about various intestinal problems, I pointed out that she
07:28 was indeed tight around the waste, and since she was
07:32 overweight, to have a tight band and to be overweight
07:35 that was going to cause a variety of intestinal problems.
07:40 Poor digestion, pain from intestinal gas, or bloating
07:46 and then of course the gastro esophageal reflux disorder.
07:50 So one night last week her husband called me and said
07:55 I'm having to take my wife down to the emergency room
08:00 and I don't know what else to do she is just in such pain.
08:04 So they did go to the emergency room and spent 14 hours there
08:09 from the time they got there until the treatment
08:13 and the testing had been accomplished.
08:15 It would have been very much better for her,
08:18 if years ago she had lost some weight, and she had
08:22 adjusted her clothing, by the way this is not the first time
08:27 that she had suffered an acute attack of G.E.R.D.
08:31 What other things can you tell us about this very complex
08:36 problem of digestion?
08:37 - One common call that we receive at the Lifestyle Center
08:42 is about the bacterial infection Helicobacter pylori.
08:47 This bacteria is a leading cause of ulcers,
08:50 both in the stomach and in the duodenum
08:52 the beginning part of the small bowel.
08:55 Helicobacter pylori is spread through food sources
08:59 and water sources, and the Center For Disease Control
09:02 estimates that two thirds of the worlds population
09:05 is infected by it.
09:06 Some people however have these manifestations of ulcers
09:10 when Helicobacter pylori occurring in the stomach,
09:14 and it's a bacteria, that very unusually thrives in that
09:18 acid environment.
09:19 There are tests now to determine if a person has this,
09:23 if you begin showing signs of an ulcer, such as a gnawing
09:27 burning pain over the stomach, or above the stomach,
09:30 especially when your stomach is empty or between meals
09:35 then you may want to have some testing, some further workup
09:38 to see if indeed you may have an ulcer.
09:41 Helicobacter pylori used to be only diagnosed by the patient
09:47 swallowing a tube, passing a tube down into the stomach
09:51 where specimens can be taken and grown in the laboratory,
09:55 that was how it was diagnosed.
09:56 But today there are blood tests, tests of stool specimens
10:01 and more interestingly, a breath test that can diagnose
10:05 H- pylori.
10:06 With the breath test, the patient fasts overnight
10:10 and in the morning takes either a capsule, or a small beverage
10:14 of a drink that contains urea.
10:17 In the presence of urea, Helicobacter pylori emits
10:23 ammonia, after the person has taken the beverage and waits
10:27 a period of time they will blow into a little balloon,
10:30 the balloon is sent to the lab, where they will test
10:33 for the presence of ammonia, and if ammonia is present,
10:37 the test is positive or H-pylori.
10:40 How do we get rid of it?
10:43 That's one of the difficult questions, and to understand
10:46 the three main aspects of treating an ulcer
10:50 caused by H-pylori, it's helpful to look again
10:53 at the anatomy, a close up view now of the wall
10:56 of the stomach.
10:58 When we look at the wall of the stomach
11:00 represented by this little line here, you will notice
11:04 that our stomach is normally covered by a mucous lining
11:08 it's protective.
11:10 Inside the stomach, we have hydrochloric acid,
11:14 and other digestive juices which are very strong
11:17 behind this mucous lining the wall of the stomach is
11:21 One enzyme of particular note is pepsinogen,
11:26 this is the enzyme that breaks down proteins
11:29 when it is secreted from the cells from the gastric wall
11:33 it is perfectly safe to this muscular structure,
11:37 it does nothing to damage it,
11:39 as it passes beyond this mucous barrier, and comes in contact
11:45 with hydrochloric acid, it's converted into pepsin,
11:48 the enzyme that breaks down protein.
11:51 Our stomach wall is made of protein, the action of H pylori
11:58 is to destroy this mucous barrier, to prevent the stomach
12:02 from having that, so pepsin works directly on the stomach
12:08 to begin digesting it, causing erosion, pain, and
12:13 a great discomfort for the person who has
12:16 suffered with an ulcer.
12:17 Treatment involves three things: eliminating the H pylori
12:22 helping to heal the ulcer that has developed,
12:25 and replacing, providing a alternative mucous barrier
12:29 to protect that area as it heals.
12:31 The New England Journal of Medicine published
12:34 an interesting report about an herb, it's actually a resin
12:38 from a Mediterranean tree, particularly grown in Greece
12:42 called "mastic gum," they gave patients with
12:47 Helicobacter pylori infections a gram of mastic gum
12:51 every day for two weeks, 80% of the patients reported
12:56 improvement in their symptoms and by taking a look
13:00 through a camera, at their stomachs, 70% showed improvement
13:05 in the size and depth of their ulcers.
13:08 It was recommended by the researchers of this group
13:12 and others, if you have a H pylori infection
13:16 take one gram of mastic gum every day for four weeks
13:21 and then you can use a maintenance dose of 500 mg
13:25 a day to eradicate the H pylori bacteria itself.
13:30 Another herb that has shown promise, in eliminating H pylori
13:34 is red Ginseng, and the two very common antibiotic herbs
13:41 Echinacea and Golden Seal in combination,
13:44 they also prove beneficial in eliminating H pylori bacteria.
13:48 To replace the mucous lining that protects the ulcer
13:54 as it's healing and as the H pylori is being killed.
13:58 Aloe Vera juice which we mentioned for G.E.R.D.
14:01 taking two ounces of Aloe Vera juice before each meal,
14:05 at bedtime, and really any time there is discomfort,
14:09 can help put a coating over the stomach wall
14:12 to bring relief.
14:13 Slippery Elm is another herb that has a mucilage property
14:18 that can help protect that area, and to heal the ulcer
14:22 itself interestingly cabbage juice is incredibly beneficial,
14:28 eating raw cabbage or taking cabbage juice was shown to
14:32 help bring healing.
14:34 Sixty two patients were given a liter of cabbage juice a day
14:38 divided in doses over the course of the day
14:40 and showed healing in a little over seven days.
14:44 When compared with patients on conventional
14:48 ulcer medications, healing didn't occur until
14:50 after forty days, so cabbage juice is a wonderful
14:53 healing agent for ulcers.
14:56 Some other things to consider would be to avoid any foods
15:00 that will irritate the area, such as high fat foods,
15:04 spicy and irritating foods, even sugar can contribute
15:09 to the ongoing erosion and pain of the ulcer.
15:13 Taking a two meal plan will show less pepsin
15:18 in the stomach, less pepsin will mean there is less
15:21 opportunity for that ulcer area to have further damage
15:25 so eating in frequently, eating simple meals
15:28 these are things that can benefit, make sure that you
15:31 drink plenty of water, and avoid snacking at all costs.
15:37 Even a small snack between meals will bring pepsin
15:41 to the stomach, and the opportunity to further damage
15:44 that area.
15:45 Dr. Thrash, I'm sure you have worked with patients
15:49 with all types of abdominal disorders.
15:51 - Yes I have, and let's just review those things
15:54 that can be used to heal a peptic ulcer, because
15:58 most of the time we think we must have an antibiotic
16:02 but there are some anti-microbial herbs that can
16:06 can help: mastic gum is extremely good, and let's name
16:11 the others, Red Ginseng also very beneficial, Echinacea,
16:16 and Golden Seal.
16:18 Those are very helpful, and then the Aloe Vera to soothe
16:24 and coat the lining of the stomach, so that it can
16:28 heal better, sounds great.
16:31 I enjoy treating peptic ulcer now.
16:34 I remember when I was in medical school,
16:37 we knew that the treatment that the treatment that we had
16:40 for peptic ulcer was not good, but we didn't know what to do
16:43 because our understanding of it's cause was all together
16:48 wrong, but we have advanced very far in our understanding
16:53 just by getting the Helicobacter pylori identified and
16:59 to understand that it causes a large percentage
17:02 of peptic ulcers.
17:04 Now I would like to talk with you some about
17:07 this matter of digestion and it's anatomy.
17:11 Of course as an anatomist I am most thankful
17:16 that we have such wonderful charts that can help us to know
17:20 just how to understand this process of digestion
17:25 and you might think that digestion begins down here
17:29 in the abdomen some where, but not so.
17:31 It begins with the chewing process, and notice this
17:34 wonderful structure called the tooth, it has a little bit
17:38 of bone here to support it and probably if you and I
17:41 had made the teeth, we would probably have just made
17:44 one straight line of tooth right here and just had
17:47 one tooth, but out wonderful divine designer
17:51 who knows all about physiology and physics, gave us individual
17:55 teeth, each supported by a little bit of bone,
17:58 and put in a socket like this.
18:01 Notice the various parts, the beautiful enamel,
18:04 the gum which we can see, the dentin, the pulp,
18:09 and of course this portion right here, being the part
18:14 that comes in contact with the little bone the cementum
18:18 here and the gum here.
18:20 Now that's the tooth, why do we need such an elaborate
18:26 tooth to keep our understanding of this matter of the first part
18:33 of digestion, indeed it is chewing.
18:36 We need to chew so that we can break the food particles
18:40 into smaller pieces, so that digestion can be complete.
18:45 Is there some reason why digestion needs to be complete?
18:49 Or could we tolerate just a little bit of incomplete
18:54 digestion, we're beginning to think that probably
18:58 no that we should not tolerate poor digestion
19:01 if we can avoid it, because there are certain chemicals
19:06 that are produced, possibly because of poor digestion
19:09 that can cause us to have serious Neurologic and muscular
19:14 and bone problems.
19:17 Such things as Alzheimer's, a little substance called Amyloid
19:22 is deposited in the Neurologic tissue of the brain,
19:27 where does it come from, possibly from poor digestion.
19:32 Now I would like to show you a very nice chart,
19:36 which I think will make it much clearer
19:39 what I'm going to be talking to you about.
19:41 Here is the esophagus, a lot of things can happen
19:45 to the esophagus from the Barrettes esophagus,
19:48 which is a dilation and inflammation, even an
19:52 adenocarcinoma of the esophagus although adenomas of the...
19:56 adenocarcinomas of the esophagus are very rare
20:00 among us who do not use heavy spices,
20:04 but those who use a lot of very hot spices,
20:07 they tend to get more cancer of the esophagus
20:10 than others.
20:12 What kind of hot spices, well such things as:
20:15 cayenne pepper, black pepper, other very hot spices
20:19 that are common in some cultures, and it's interesting
20:22 that in those cultures where spices are the most frequently
20:26 used and the greatest use of them, then carcinoma
20:30 of the esophagus is indeed more common than other places
20:34 in the world.
20:35 For people who drink alcohol and get cirrhosis of the liver
20:39 they may get Varicose veins of the lower end of the esophagus
20:44 and here you can see them dilated.
20:46 Because of the constant flow of food into the stomach
20:51 as food goes past the esophagus if there are varices
20:57 here, then they can ulcerate and a major hemorrhage
21:02 can occur, and this is one of the common causes
21:05 of death in people who have severe cirrhosis.
21:08 Here is the stomach from an adenocarcinoma to an ulcer
21:14 to gastritis, and a variety of other afflictions of the stomach
21:20 many of them caused by our poor lifestyle.
21:24 Here is the duodenum and there is an ulcer, now
21:29 from what we have just learned from Rhonda
21:31 we will remember that H- pylori which is a bacteria
21:35 this germ can cause an ulceration either in the
21:40 stomach such as here, or here or in the duodenum.
21:45 If they ulcerate through then they can cause
21:49 a major hemorrhage, now notice that the pancreas
21:53 is just beneath the stomach, in this area.
21:56 If a peptic ulcer in the duodenum ulcerates
22:00 all the way through the duodenum, it can ulcerate
22:03 into the pancreas.
22:05 The pancreas has very heavy duty enzymes which assist us
22:06 with digestion, and these very heavy duty enzymes
22:14 then begin to soften and digest the pancreas itself
22:19 and we can get a really florid type of pancreatitis,
22:25 acute pancreatitis is a life threatening disease.
22:28 A ruptured peptic ulcer is also a life threatening disease
22:33 and that lifestyle is an important part of this
22:37 whole process of ruptured peptic ulcers,
22:43 or even the development of peptic ulcers,
22:45 all of this indeed is very much associated with our lifestyle.
22:51 Now back to the chart, the pancreas located here
22:56 can have acute pancreatitis or we can get adenocarcinoma,
23:02 of the pancreas.
23:04 This seems to be an hereditary type of cancer, much more common
23:10 in certain families, not to say that everybody who has a
23:15 carcinoma or a cancer of the pancreas will have relatives
23:20 that have that, but that certainly can be.
23:22 Now let's go to the colon, the colon is subject to
23:27 quite a lot of problems, here are polyps,
23:31 and if you notice carefully you can see that some of these
23:35 hang by a little pedicle, we can with a scope,
23:41 simply snare one of these polyps and remove them.
23:46 If they don't have a pedicle, then they are a little harder
23:48 to snare, but can still be snared and a polyp can often be
23:54 just removed through a scope.
23:56 If it progresses really far, then we may have a cancer
24:02 to occur in the colon, such as we have here,
24:07 so that the polyp goes from being a benign polyp,
24:11 to being a cancer, and here we have a cancer which we call
24:16 an annular cancer.
24:18 That means that this cancer has now become circular
24:23 so that it entirely encircles the colon and makes it so that
24:29 it cannot pass material through the colon.
24:33 Here we see diverticula of the colon,
24:38 and these diverticula are caused by the very same thing
24:42 that can cause the G.E.R.D., which we mentioned originally.
24:47 Increased intra-abdominal pressure which can come
24:51 from tight bands, from being overweight, from pregnancy
24:55 from overeating many times, that is on a habitual basis,
25:02 that overeating is your custom,
25:04 if so, that increases intra-abdominal pressure
25:07 and can cause the diverticula.
25:10 They can be most painful because as the material
25:15 gets into these little ballooned out areas, such as we see
25:20 right here, here is the interior of the colon,
25:24 and a little portion of it has opened up and ballooned out
25:28 so that there is this little diverticulum here,
25:32 and a cluster of diverticula quite common in this portion
25:38 the last part of the descending colon and the first part
25:43 of the sigmoid colon, this is a common area for diverticula
25:48 and the pain can be intense from these, so intense that
25:54 people that have these believe that for sure they have
25:58 some serious kind of digestive problem or perhaps
26:02 even a cancer of the colon, and because of the fact
26:06 that periodically they become irritated.
26:10 These individuals may feel that the serious problems
26:15 inside the abdomen will probably result in their death.
26:18 An interesting thing is that our use of a very simple diet
26:26 high in fiber, can go far toward eliminating the pain
26:31 that we have from these diverticula which are these
26:35 dilated portions in the wall of the colon.
26:39 Now as we find that these simple things such as a very
26:43 simple diet high in fiber, that this very simple
26:48 addition to your lifestyle that this can alleviate
26:53 a lot of the symptoms that occur in the stomach,
26:54 a lot of those that occur in the colon,
26:57 we can be thankful, thankful that our
26:59 Heavenly Father designed us, put us in a beautiful garden,
27:04 a garden that grew vegetables, and fruits, and nuts, and seeds,
27:10 and He prescribed this for man's maintenance,
27:16 his good health, and as we see that disease that has
27:20 already developed in this sinful world that we live in
27:24 even disease that has already developed, we can do a lot
27:29 to assuage this kind of disease as well.
27:32 So my encouragement to you is to learn the appropriate
27:37 lifestyle which includes eating, proper chewing,
27:42 proper selection of our food, and the proper understanding
27:46 of this whole process that we can do so much to take care of.
27:52 May the Lord Bless you and give you good digestion.