Digestive Strength By Eric Hulse
A stable foundation for strength involves more then just a steady improvement
in physical strength and muscular development.
It involves a balancing of all body systems and understanding how they work
together in order to increase over all strength, energy, and health.
Of these systems, the health of the digestive system is crucial to establishing
a foundation of strength that is vital and strong.
The digestive system is responsible for the majority of your immune
function and the proper absorption of nutrients needed to develop
and rebuild muscles, cells and organs.
When the digestive system is compromised, the rest of the body
systems suffer due to their inability to receive proper fuel and
Those with poor functioning digestive systems will experience:
- Poor recovery time and muscle growth
- Chronic illnesses
- Irritable bowel
- Decreased sex drive and function
- Skin irritations (acne, rashes, fungus, dandruff)
- Poor sleeping patterns
A damaged digestive system is typically a result of stress and the stress caused
by poor nutrition habits.
Healing the digestive system involves learning how to handle stress
appropriately and understanding which foods play a role in damaging the
Through my own personal experience and through my experiences working
with clients, I have found that removing irritating foods, particularly gluten,
has a positive impact on the health and repair of the digestive system.
What is gluten and how does it affect the body?
Gluten is a protein found in several grains including barley, rye,
oats, wheat, kamut, teff, couscous and spelt.
Some people (mostly those from English, Irish, Scandinavian, and Eastern
European decent), have a gene that causes them to have an intolerance to
gluten and can cause severe health concerns.
In these cases, gluten (more speciﬁcally gliadin, the amino acid found in
the gluten protein portion or certain grains) directly impacts the gut lining
of the small intestine by damaging the gut ﬂora and creating small
separations throughout the lining.
This is called leaky gut syndrome. When this happens, small undigested
food partials “leak” through into the blood stream causing a verity of
The body sees these food particle as a toxic invader which sends the
immune system on high alert and directly into attack mode.
In addition to the stress placed on the immune system, gluten causes
the microvilli in the small intestines to ﬂatten out and weakens
its function of absorbing nutrients into the body.
Picture a large city ﬁlled with skyscrapers (the villi) and along comes a
deadly bomb (gluten) which completely blows up and demolishes the
buildings. Youʼre now left with nothing but rubble and no fully standing
Figure 3. This graph shows the progression of healthy villi to
When the villi are destroyed, important nutrients are unable to enter
the body which would normally keep us healthy and strong. Essentially,
our immune system becomes severally compromised!
Itʼs no wonder that the majority of Americans are walking
around over weight, sick, and under nourished.
They are eating plenty of food and plenty of calories but
unable to fully absorb the nutrients!
I hope itʼs becoming clear to you why food is the ﬁrst place to
look when wanting to increase your vitality and life force.
It has a direct impact on our over all energy and well being.
Not only do we become the food we eat, it can completely destroy
Parasites, Fungus, and Inﬂammation
As the microvilli begin to ﬂatten out, small craters (similar to pot holes)
begin to develop called crypts.
These small divots in the gut lining end up making a nice home for any
parasites (and their eggs) that may have found their way into the small
These small parasites (bugs) use your body as a host draining you of
energy, causing disease, and increasing your cravings for
sugar and reﬁned carbs (which is what they thrive on).
Now I donʼt know about you, but I certainly donʼt want bugs hiding
anywhere in my body, stealing my energy, robbing me of my strength
and making me ill!
Due to the structural damage gluten causes to the small intestine, the
body responds by inﬂaming the harmed areas.
Inﬂammation is the bodies way of reacting to injury.
As the gut continues to inﬂame, the protective layer of mucus which
normally acts like an army of soldiers ﬁghting off bacteria, pathogens,
and fungus, is weakened and looses itʼs function to keep you healthy
This is the reason why itʼs so easy for parasites to enter the gut and
reside for an extended period of time. There is no barrier of
protection to keep them away leaving your body extremely
The overgrowth of fungus in the body is also a potential problem
when the gut lining has been damaged.
Due to a compromised immune system, the fungus is now left free
to grow throughout the body causing infections.
Because parasites and fungus are living organisms, they will
eventually die off.
When this occurs, they release myotoxins which overwhelm the
detoxification pathways of the body leading to a wide variety of
Symptom of a parasite or fungal infection include:
- Degenerative changes in the skin
- Loose, foul smelling stools
- Jock itch
- Athlete’s Food
- Anal itching
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Immune stress
- Gruanulomas (tumor like parasite encasements)
- Decreased sex drive and sexual performance
Stress, Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue
Due to the overwhelming demand placed on the immune system,
as well as an increase in chronic, systemic inflammation, the body
undergoes a lot of stress.
As stress increases, the hormone cortisol is released.
This hormone which was meant to keep the body alert and focused in the
face of danger, was meant to be released in small, sporadic dosages.
However, when we experience a prolonged period of stress from a hectic
lifestyle and poor eating habits, cortisol is constantly being released into
This over abundance of cortisol in the body further causes immune
suppression as well as a catabolic/breakdown state to exist in the body
exhausting the adrenals leading to fatigue, depression, loss of
libido, allergies, frequent illness, etc.
“Doctors pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases which
they know less, into human beings of whom they know nothing.” – Voltaire
One of the tricky things about the domino effect of illnesses caused
by a gluten intolerance/sensitivity is that they often go undiagnosed or
Conventional medical wisdom would often rather treat symptoms
instead of root causes when addressing issues with gluten.
These illnesses are usually masked with heavy doses of antibiotics used to
suppress their reoccurring symptoms. This worsens the situation by killing
off many of the beneficial bacteria which can promote health and healing.
This is not an attack on the medical profession but rather a need to look deeper
into healing the body as well as a call for us to develop a more intimate
relationship with our bodies.
It’s time we fall back on our intuition and connection with the healing that
nature and a less stressful lifestyle can offer us.
Given half a change the body will heal itself. However it needs our love,
commitment and patience in order to do so.
Healing the Gut
“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately,
cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” ~William Londen
1. Eliminate all gluten from your diet.
2. Eliminate all processed foods and sugar from your diet.
Rule of thumb: If it’s in a box, bag, package, or heavily marketed, it’s most
likely bad for you.
3. Increase your intake of probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut
These foods will add beneficial, healthy bacteria back into your gut promoting
a faster recovery.
4. Find ways to decrease the amount of stress in your life.
Stress of any kind will hamper the immune system preventing your body to
fully respond to any illnesses caused to fungus, pathogens, and gluten allergies.
Mindful walks in nature
Developing meaning relationships with family and friends
Finding a career that brings you joy
Explore your creative energy by finding an artistic hobby
5. Spend more time “working in” (calming exercises) rather than
Balancing the energies of the body with exercises such as yoga and tai chi will
aid in bringing more focus and attention to the needs of the body. It also causes
less stress on the body then intense workout sessions.
6. Develop better sleeping habits.
Sleeping 7 – 8 hours per night and getting to sleep by 10:30 pm will help the body
realign its natural circadian rhythm helping to balance out the stress and healing
hormonal out put in the body.
7. Experiment with anti-fungals.
Anti-fungals such as oregano oil help to decrease inflammation, improve immune
function, and treat bacterial infections.
The importance of living is such a way to promote optimal strength can not be
This is apparent by simply walking down the street and observing the unhealthy
state most people are in today. You will notice overweight, tired people who lack
vitality, excitement and clarity.
By focusing on your own energies and putting loving thought into
increasing your strength by nourishing your body with healing foods
and nourishing your mind and emotions through making the proper
adjustments to your lifestyle, is the only way to recover.
“It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick
to start from scratch once again, to be born once again.” – Bikram Choudhury
Part two of this series will focus on balancing out the energies of the
body by eating for healthy blood sugar regulation.
Who is Eric Hulse?
Eric graduated from both the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the CHEK
Institute. He specializes in stress management, nutrition and functional medicine.
His Health Coaching practice is highly client centered and takes in the needs of
the WHOLE individual to help heal their mind, body, and soul.
Eric is also an elementary school music teacher who has been known to
spontaneously bust out in the moonwalk with his students and unapologetically
owns every Christina Aguilera album!
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Figures 1 and 2: Practical Paleo, Diane Sanfilippo
Figure 3: Dan Kalish
Figure: 4 and 5: Do you have a fungal or parasite infection?, Paul Chek