Dietary Counseling and Consultations

Digestive Health

What You Should Know about Your GI System- part two

Published September 22nd, 2014 in Digestive Health

By Tammera J. Karr, PhD

Growing up as a kid on a ranch, we had fresh milk from the cow most mornings. Milk was my preferred drink for most of my young life, but as I grew older and had a family milk lost it’s appeal. Partly due to my husband’s extreme milk and dairy allergy – which he was in denial about over cheese for many, many years. For me somehow store bought milk just didn’t, set well any more, and then the constant sinus congestion and phlegm created growing health challenges.

The ability to digest the milk sugar lactose first evolved in dairy farming communities in central Europe, not in more northern groups as was previously thought, reported a study led by UCL (University College London) scientists published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology. The genetic change that enabled early Europeans to drink milk without getting sick has been mapped to dairying farmers who lived around 7,500 years ago in a region between the central Balkans and central Europe.

The Romans used goat and sheep milk to produce cheese, and cattle as a draft animal. However, Germanic and Celtic people practiced cattle dairying and drank fresh milk in significant amounts. The current distribution of lactase persistence would seem to suggest an origin in Northwest Europe – especially Ireland and Scandinavia – since it is found at its highest frequency there today. However, the latest study suggests otherwise.

Professor Mark Thomas, UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment, says: “Most adults worldwide do not produce the enzyme lactase and so are unable to digest the milk sugar lactose. Most Europeans continue to produce lactase throughout their life, a characteristic known as lactase persistence. In Europe, a single genetic change is strongly associated with lactase persistence and appears to have given people with it a big survival advantage. (Read more at:

Now let’s take a step back for a moment and consider the differences in the milk utilized in European countries, used by my ranching and farming family and here in the USA as a rule. Do to modern farming requirements dairy foods in the us are a far cry from what was in that gallon jar in our family fridge. It isn’t an easy job producing milk for hundreds or even thousands of human calves, that is stable and safe.

Lactose intolerance: Between 30 million and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack an enzyme needed to digest the main sugar in milk, and African-Americans, Asians, and American Indians are most likely to have the condition. Ranging in severity from person to person, symptoms include cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea. These usually occur 30 minutes to two hours after one drinks or eats a dairy product.

There’s effective, do-it-yourself approach to diagnosis, lactose intolerance, buy a container of milk, and drink it, if you experience bloating, abdominal pain, or diarrhea, you’re probably lactose intolerant.

Up Next Diverticulitis

By one estimate, 3 in 5 Americans older than 70 have the abnormal bulges called diverticula somewhere in the wall of their intestinal tract. Yet only 20 percent will ever experience a complication like diverticulitis (inflammation of a pouch), a tear, or an abscess.

Doctors have long advised people with diverticula to avoid nuts, corn, and popcorn for fear those foods would get lodged in a pouch during digestion and wreak havoc. But in 2008, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that regular consumption of these foods did not boost the risk of diverticular complications. In fact, eating plenty of nuts and popcorn seemed to lower risk. When diverticulitis does arise, it’s very likely to make its presence known through abdominal pain—typically in the lower left quadrant in westerners, but often on the right side in Asians—and possibly fever; antibiotics can treat the condition. In extreme cases, a tear can lead to an abscess, which can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and intense abdominal tenderness that requires a surgical fix. Some experts believe a diet too low in fiber may trigger the condition, which grows increasingly common with age and is most prevalent in western societies.

Makes since to eat more roughage rich foods to do housekeeping of the gut to me, especially in light of how many clients I see with constipation issues. I have my clients do a “transit time test”, eat a food like white corn for a meal and time how long it takes to travel through your GI system and show back up. It should be between 12 and 15 hours, if faster you are not getting good nutrition from your food and need more fiber rich foods to slow things down. If your time is longer, you are increasing your risks for acid reflux, nausea, colon cancer, weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
So Eat your Local Veggies and Fruits!

To Your Healthy GI System and Good Health.