As a child, you may have remember playing "Connect the Dots", where you drew a line from one numbered to to the next to see what picture emerged.

It was fun trying to guess what picture would appear, but we learned quickly that the key was to connect the dots in the right order, anything else created a jumbled mess of lines.

Thinking in terms of creating optimal personal health, it's reassuring to know that in an age of ever-increasing medical costs, physician shortages, and an endless array of new and terrible health challenges, there's a process of connecting the dots to achieve optimal personal health - which can big dividends if one proceeds in the right order.  Most dots represent what may seem like common sense, but many of us fail to tend to one or more of them.


Ayurveda, the “science of life” medicinal discipline from ancient India, has enjoyed increased recognition of its healing wisdom thanks, in part, to the popularity of yoga—one of ayurveda’s many facets. The primary starting point in ayurveda is digestive/eliminative health: “Health begins and ends in the digestive tract.” Quite literally, people who can’t properly digest their food, assimilate the nutrients in that food, and eliminate the body’s waste products will throw their entire wellness off kilter. This is dot No. 1 in our “connect the dots” picture of health.

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The immune system is vitally linked to the health of intestinal flora, a fact increasingly demonstrated by ongoing scientific studies. More than 70 percent of the immune system resides in our gut—this fact is starting to become public knowledge. Not so commonly known is the degree to which the foods we eat and the digestive process affect gut health. What started with simple yogurt commercials touting the benefits of “friendly flora” and their benefits for a “happy belly” has now captured the attention of the public at large. No yogurt worth its milk will neglect to talk about the beneficial bacteria it contains and how it soothes digestion.

Remember the classic children’s story of Heidi—a little Swiss girl whose illness would not leave her until she went to live with her uncle in the Alps. A simple sheep herder fed Heidi goat’s milk yogurt, which gradually restored her health. This story is now repeated in different forms in yogurt commercials and in scientific studies every day, with many manufacturers scrambling to patent their own “special strains” of probiotics. Whether we take probiotics in pill form or in active cultured form—aka synbiotics, in forms such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, or kimchee—we support digestive health and overall immunity.

The probiotic represents part of the first dot, but the rest of that dot is the environment into which the probiotic goes. It is much the same as planting a garden: Good preparation and maintenance of the planting bed greatly enhance the chance of a bountiful harvest. The digestive tract is no different.

One of the best ways to ensure optimum intestinal function is another ayurvedic gift to the West: triphala. Triphala is a simple yet profound combination of three sour, bitter, and astringent fruits; with more than 4,000 years of use, triphala can optimize the health of the digestive tract. Additionally, the emerging scientific research on the retinoic acid form of vitamin A, and its crucial role in intestinal health and mucosal membrane support, is a key contributor to optimal health. This form of vitamin A supports healthy mucosal membranes and, in turn, healthy probiotic populations in the gut.


Once the intestines are working and supported properly, it’s time to look at the liver. Why?  Everything people digest and assimilate through their intestinal walls travels through the portal vein, which runs along those walls and back to the liver. These digested nutrients are further broken down into usable compounds by the liver and put back into the blood to be carried throughout the body.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver was called “the General” because it had so much influence on maintenance of the body. The liver breaks down nutrients into usable compounds. It also regulates glucose levels and stores glucose in its own cells (in the form of glycogen) for later use. The liver filters toxins out of the blood and shunts them to the gall bladder via bile to be excreted through the intestines. These and other activities require great amounts of energy and specific antioxidants to protect the liver while it’s dealing with so many 


For centuries, herbal traditions from around the world have used plants such as turmeric, milk thistle seed extract (Silymarin), dandelion root, and schisandra to support and protect liver health and to balance liver enzymes. Nutritional supplements such as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, and selenium have also been used with great success by holistic practitioners and MDs to enhance liver function. These compounds have many scientific studies supporting their use.


This dot is as much a choice of lifestyle as it is a specific organ support. Everything that enters the intestinal tract does so through the stomach, which acts as the digestive engine. It stands to reason, then, that supporting the stomach’s ability to digest the food people eat is a crucial part of this picture of health.

“You are what you eat,” said famous British playwright George Bernard Shaw. Or, to borrow a phrase from the computer industry, “Garbage in, garbage out!” The standard American diet (SAD) is laden with excess sugars, artificial chemical flavorings and colors, preservatives, empty (meaning nutrient-deficient) carbohydrates, and oxidized fats. Is it any wonder America is a nation that struggles with its mid-section? Many of us eat on the run, wash down meals with sugary sodas or alcoholic beverages, and often overeat—all of which makes it extremely hard for the stomach to function and digest optimally.

To improve digestion, it is helpful to replace refined grains with whole grains and add plenty of raw or prepared-fresh foods into our diet. At the same time, we should avoid foods and beverages with high sugar content, eat at a slower pace, and chew food more thoroughly. High quality fiber is also a positive addition to our nutritional scorecard. Bile acids—which are released by the liver and dispersed by the gall bladder into the small intestines—bind to fiber in the intestines and the toxic wastes in those bile acids are thus carried out of the body.

Additionally, both TCM and ayurveda view digestion as a hot and somewhat dry process, often referred to as the “fire of digestion.” So, downing those super-sized iced drinks with your meal does nothing to help with effective digestion.

What may help is to take a high quality, broad spectrum digestive enzyme along with meals. All of the herbal traditions in the world have recognized the importance of herbal bitters, and have suggested their use. The bitter flavor enhances digestion, and there are many such herbal bitters available in the marketplace. Other herbs that may support healthy digestion are small amounts of ginger, black pepper, marshmallow root, and mint.


The final dot in this particular picture of good health is movement—we must take all of those wonderful nutrients the body is now getting and put them to work! Regular exercise does not have to be strenuous or difficult. One of the best forms of exercise is simply walking. Workouts not only enhance circulation, but they also exercise those abdominal muscles, promoting healthier peristalsis—the movement of digesting food through the intestinal tract.


Oftentimes, pictures can evoke many different thoughts in our minds. Although this connect-the-dots “picture” that represents the beginning of optimal health may seem simple, its effects can be profound. It is important, of course, to discuss personal health situations with qualified practitioners, but it’s amazing that in a world of increasing complexity, there are still simple, easily applicable methods available to help re-establish fitness, well-being, and vigor. See what a difference connecting your own dots can make. 

To your health!

Allimax® Nutraceuticals U.S.
Chicago, IL 60607
312-421-6132 Office

Source: Alternative Medicine Oct. 2014 by Nancy Angelini & Thomas Dadant

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