After spending five days in the hospital with a perforated ulcer that I didn’t even know I had, decided I needed more information about how to help the ulcer finish healing and not return. I found this book: “Healthy Digestion the Natural Way: Preventing and Healing Heartburn, Constipation, Gas, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel and Gallbladder Diseases, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Food Allergies, and More,” by D. Lindsey Berkson (2000, John Wiley & Sons). Don’t let the subtitle put you off (my first thought was, “Eeewwww!”). I thought I understood how digestion worked and that I ate a healthy diet. But the first four chapters of this book gave a wonderful description of how digestion works, and the essential role it plays in the functioning of every part of our bodies. This is not just a book about healing digestive problems, but about the critical role digestion plays in such things as arthritis, backaches, skin conditions, sleep problems, and even mental health. I also learned that although I was eating healthy, there was no guarantee my body was absorbing all those nutrients. A German doctor once told a friend of mine that Americans have the richest urine in the world. We take vitamins and herbs, but the food we eat renders our digestive systems unable to assimilate all that nutrition, so our bodies break down.
Dr. Berkson has been a chiropractor and has a master’s degree in nutrition. She founded a clinic in California where she treated referrals from other doctors who suspected their client’s problems had a nutritional basis. She has a very readable writing style, and has included an extensive index, references section, and list of resources. Berkson is also very aware of the mind-body connection in healing, and includes exercises, meditations, and reflexology points to be used in the healing process.
After the initial, general chapters about what optimal nutrition is, Berkson has a specific chapter for 13 diagnoses related to digestion. There is a third section of three chapters titled “How To Find Out What’s Wrong and Fix It.” Most of the book assumes you are under the care of a doctor for your condition, but much of it can be done without a visit to your doctor. She is very good about saying when it is time to see a physician. Today I took the book along with me to the follow-up visit with my MD, and he was glad to have me reading it and following its advice. Most doctors today, even the really good ones, do not have the time to go into detailed advice about nutrition (unless they are a nutritionist), so they welcome a good, basic text that gets the information across.
The bad news is that a diet of fast food, donuts, and soda pop is probably going to lead to digestive (and other) health problems. The good news is that you may be able to continue some of those foods some of the time (even chocolate), as long as you eat more whole foods, vegetables, and fruits most of the time. Yes, she writes about yogurt, but you can take capsules that provide the same friendly bacteria. Thing of it is, once you realize how important good nutrition is to the healthy functioning of your body, those donuts will be easier to resist.