The Strain on Digestive Systems
Interview with Nena Dockery
Interviewed by Raena Morgan
Raena Morgan: Hi, I’m Raena Morgan with iHealthTube visiting Nena Dockery. She is an expert on digestion. Nena, I read an interesting statistic that was on the website of the NDDIC, which is the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House—real recent, and it says there are 141 digestive diseases identified by the NDDIC. Where is this coming from? You’re an expert in digestion. How is this? Is it because our diets have changed so much?
Nena Dockery: Partially, that is true. I mean, some of it naturally has to do with their identification processes. But at the same time—yes, our diets have changed and that has certainly impacted our ability to digest our food. And, it seems like our ability to adapt to our changing diet hasn’t really caught up; our diet has changed so quickly. I think if we think about it simply in this century alone…the last century…we have had the advent of TV dinners, fast food, processed—highly processed food, and just the availability of more food. As a result, we’ve had to adapt to those changing diets, and our habits have changed as well, as we have already discussed. All of that together has put a real strain on our digestive systems. We have not been able to adapt as fast as we have needed to in order to compensate for that, and that is partially the reason we are seeing so many different types of digestive diseases. Some of them are genetically linked. Some of them are from our habits. And, some of them are simply due to the damage that we have done to our digestive systems.
RM: So, 141 different digestive diseases or disorders. What would some of those be—like acid reflux?
ND: Acid reflux, Celiac disease, Chrons disease. You know, when I was a child I had never heard of Chrons disease.
RM: No, nor I.
ND: And yet, that has become almost a byword. Most everyone knows what Chrons disease is now because it has become so prevalent. Celiac disease any number of food allergies that have become so prevalent in our society—and those are increasing rapidly. At one point we maybe knew of some people who were lactose intolerant, but now we hear of so many people who are gluten intolerant. That was something that was almost unheard of even 30, 40, 50 years ago, and now it is very, very commonplace. Gluten intolerance...is really an intolerance not only to wheat but to other grain proteins. Gluten is actually a glycoprotein; it’s a protein itself. There are several different grains that produce a gluten-type protein, such as wheat, [which] is by far the most common and the one we most commonly associate with gluten intolerance, but also barley and rye are… very important in that respect. What happens in our system is [that] for most of us, we can break that down completely [with] our intestinal enzymes. But for some people there is a small peptide that remains unbroken, that we are not breaking down, and that elicits an immune response….but for some people it is not really an immune response but is a response to that peptide and that’s what causes the gluten intolerance.
RM: Oh, okay, well that’s very informative. Thank you very much Nena