An interview with Amanda Santalucia, RHN
Do you feel bloated, heavy or sluggish after eating? Do you have low energy, yet trouble sleeping? Having frequent cravings and trouble losing stubborn weight? I recently spoke with nutritionist Amanda Santalucia about how all these symptoms may be connected to the overall health of our gut.
Jason Sebeslav: Amanda, we hear more and more mention of “the gut” these days. Just to clarify, what are we referring to with this term?
Amanda Santalucia: The “gut” is really your entire digestive tract. It starts in the mouth, down to the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Each area secretes different enzymes that help break down different foods and extract nutrients from the foods we eat. The gut also contains billions of good and bad bacteria.
JS: Sometimes people are surprised to learn the amount of bacteria we carry around in our gut – and that it’s a good thing!
AS: Yes! Our guts contain good and bad bacteria and the ratio is important. If we have too much bad bacteria, it can cause digestive issues like bloating, constipation, discomfort after eating and cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Probiotics help with ensuring the good bacteria is in balance.
JS: So what is this we hear about the “gut-brain connection”?
AS: The gut is considered our “second brain” as it communicates with our brain and controls our nervous system – when to rest and when to digest. When we are stressed, our brain doesn’t receive messages properly and it throws off our resting and digesting abilities. A common example of this is when people become constipated or have loose bowels when stressed, or have issues sleeping at night.
JS: What are some of more common signs of an unhealthy gut?
AS: Some key signs include bloating, gas with or without food, stomach irritation, constipation, feeling “full” even after light meals – just to name a few.
JS: What about some of the less common symptoms?
AS: Many health issues may actually be linked to an unhealthy gut. Some less obvious symptoms include chronic fatigue, lack of energy, cravings, unhealthy nails and hair (due to lack of nutrient absorption), dark circles under the eyes and unexplained moodiness. In fact, 95% of serotonin, our “happy hormone,” is created not in the brain but in the gut! So when the gut is off, your mood can be negatively impacted.
JS: How do digestive health issues start? What are some of the main culprits?
AS: The main culprits are poor diet and stress. A poor diet results in a lack of nutrients required by the body. Chemicals and artificial ingredients are taxing on the system, as the body isn’t designed to break them down like natural foods. Stress hinders your body’s ability to create digestive enzymes designed to break down and extract nutrients from foods in the digestive tract. The less enzymes we produce, the less our body can digest food.
JS: So what are a couple simple, effective changes that can help improve gut health and digestion?
AS: Reducing processed foods and replacing them with natural whole foods the body recognizes is a great start. But often we need help through supplementation to speed up the healing process. Digestive enzymes with meals and a probiotic are very effective to heal the gut.
JS: You advocate a digestive enzyme supplement called Digest+. Why might we need to supplement with an enzyme?
AS: Digest+ is great because it helps your body break down food and absorb nutrients, and relieves stomach distress like bloating, gas and heartburn within 15 minutes. This is a great supplement for people with poor digestion, IBS, a parasite or those without a gallbladder.
JS: What makes Digest+ different from other digestive enzymes out there?
AS: Unlike other enzymes, Digest+ is designed to work with your body and stimulate it to start producing its own digestive enzymes again, so you don’t become dependent on it. It also contains a key ingredient, goldenseal, which helps kill off the bad bacteria that can cause negative digestive symptoms. It’s also versatile as far as when you can take it – before or after a meal, or even on an empty stomach.
JS: How do you recommend taking Digest+ and for how long?
AS: For chronic digestive issues, take 2 tablets of Digest+ with heavy meals for 6-12 weeks.
For acute or occasional digestive issues, take 1 tablet before heavy meals for 4-6 weeks, or as digestive symptoms occur. If you are travelling, this is also a great product to prevent parasites or bad bacteria you may be exposed to. Digest+ will relieve digestive discomfort and stimulate your natural digestive process.
Amanda Santalucia is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who has delivered over 1,500 nutritional consultations to people with chronic conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol and more. She is a strong advocate of natural health and healing.