We’ve all been there: We have a glorious gastronomic feast on our plates—that represents a huge indulgence—and we devour it. Even when our stomach is full, we continue to eat. After all, it’s just so delicious! But there’s a reason your stomach is grumbly afterward; it has to do with your gut issues and the signals you should be heeding.
New Research on Gut Issues
When it comes to the gut, there are all kinds of challenges you could be facing. Most seem to get lumped together into irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. According to new research out of Australia, IBS is the correct term to encompass a number of gut-related issues, including people who are genetically predisposed to gut issues, patients who develop conditions after a gut infection, and people who have a chronic gut infection that causes the symptoms.
In the same research study, a particular gene was identified with IBS, making some people more predisposed to it than others. They also found a potential link between IBS and mental illnesses due to the inflammation that starts in the gut and can also occur in the brain.
How to Know You Have Issues
While every person reacts to gut issues differently, there are a few telltale signs that you might have a problem.
- Abdominal pain that is recurring or happens after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day.
- Feeling bloated or gassy after eating or other activities.
- Diarrhea and/or constipation, often occurring shortly after eating trigger foods.
Of course, all of the above symptoms could just be something in passing, but it’s when you have challenges over a period of time that you should be paying attention. For most people living with gut issues and IBS, the condition is chronic.
Treatment Options for IBS and Gut Issues
Since the causes of IBS and many gut issues are unclear, most physicians focus on treating and alleviating the symptoms first. And that could lead those who are suffering through months—or even years—of trying different drugs to find relief.
Alternatively, you could look at the source of your gut issues.
In the field of functional medicine, we shift from disease focused to patient focused. Each person is different; therefore, each approach is different. With functional medicine, we’ll look at all components of lifestyle, in addition to symptoms.
Since diet is often at the core of any kinds of gut issues, functional medicine often starts there. What really differentiates this way of thinking from the traditional allopathic mindset is in getting to the core of the matter rather than putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms.
Are You Suffering with Gut Issues?
If you have chronic gut issues and IBS, there’s no reason to suffer any longer. Your gut really is trying to tell you something; you just have to take a moment and listen.
You can find relief—and preferably without having to take a number of pills every day. Contact us at My Health Detective. We’ll work with you to determine what the true cause of your gut issues is and how we can turn them around. You don’t need to suffer any longer.
Having a healthy gut is a mainstream phenomenon. We hear the term “gut health” thrown around on social media, on cable TV, and of course from functional medicine practitioners. It has been linked to everything from weight loss to cancer prevention. But do you really know the true benefits of gut health? Before I delve into everything that can go wrong with the gut and how to heal your gut, I would first like to highlight its function in our bodies, and how it affects every aspect of our health.
Our Second Brain
The gut is often referred to as the second brain. This collection of our digestive organs is responsible for the breakdown and metabolism of everything we consume. When it functions properly, we absorb all of the nutrients we need and eliminate everything we don’t. Contained within the gut is an entire microbiome of 10-100 trillion beneficial bacteria. Our bodies actually contain more bacteria than anything else! This is why functional medicine practitioners like myself discourage the use of antibiotics, which kill off all bacteria indiscriminately. Gut health is one of the first things we target in functional medicine because when the gut is imbalanced, everything else in the body will follow suit.
The term “gut feeling” refers to an instinctive, split-second judgment call. The gut is closely tied to our mental health. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of ease and happiness, is dependent on a healthy microbiome for production. Even conventional medicine is beginning to recognize the connection between gut issues and mental health concerns like anxiety and depression.
One of the best and easiest ways to support a healthy gut is to consume probiotics regularly. These are available in food and supplement forms. These beneficial bacteria replenish strains that may have been wiped out by conventional medication, illness, or living a toxic lifestyle. The following are a few of my favorite sources of these beneficial bacteria:
Fermented foods are not only packed with beneficial bacteria but are easy to make and delicious! Kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are a few of the most popular. These foods encourage the growth of probiotics.
It can be difficult to choose the best probiotic supplement. Many companies have jumped on the bandwagon. You can even find a sugar-laden, gummy version available in most stores! For the most effective probiotic, choose a supplement with multiple strains. It should be stabilized to survive the stomach’s hydrochloric acid. Refrigerated, carefully shipped brands are often high-quality. Remember, these are live bacteria, and we want them to survive the process! Once in the small intestine, the colony will start to multiply and thrive.
Diets That Support Gut Health
A healthy gut requires more than a high-quality supplement, however. A low-stress lifestyle with plenty of rest, stress-relieving techniques to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and a healthy diet are all necessary pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, many of us are led to believe that we have achieved our best health if we master even one of these. If you have a thriving yoga practice but indulge in a donut after class, you’re setting your system up for failure.
Grain-free, whole food diets are one of the best options for ensuring gut health. Not only do most of these diets encourage stepping away from processed, sugar-laden foods (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30), but they eliminate common allergens as well.
If you suffer from a sensitivity to scented perfumes, you likely avoid the department store perfume counter. However, many of us have underlying sensitivities to common foods like gluten and dairy but still consume them on a daily basis! By eliminating these foods from the diet, we give our bodies the chance to shift out of attack mode (which is what is truly happening during an allergic response) and instead allow our bodies to digest completely.
The Right Tests to Discover Your Underlying Health Concerns
Many of my patients have found immediate relief with making these small, yet significant changes. But for some, underlying conditions like small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can complicate the process. As a trained functional medicine practitioner, I will order the right tests to uncover the underlying conditions that are keeping you from optimal health. Together, we will address these issues and create a plan to help you achieve your health goals!
The Benefits to Heal Your Gut
By making small lifestyle shifts like incorporating probiotics and eliminating common allergens, we can start to support one of the most important systems in our bodies. When we digest our food properly, we feel nourished, hydrated, energized, and relaxed after a meal. Digestive complaints like irritable bowel syndrome disappear, as the connection between our brain and gut is functioning properly. Mental health thrives because the neurotransmitters responsible for positive responses are in balance. Hormones are produced in the right amounts at the right times because our bodies are no longer in fight-or-flight mode.
While our modern lifestyles may neglect gut health, this doesn’t have to be the case! I can help you uncover the root cause of your deepest health concerns, in order to achieve optimal health. If you’re ready to heal your gut and ditch your health problems for good, contact me today for a FREE consultation!
How is your digestion? I ask this simple question multiple times each day, sometimes pausing for several minutes to give my patient the time to formulate a response. In a country plagued with obesity, food allergies, emotional eating, and ads selling us the biggest, best new fast food followed by skinny underwear models, it’s no wonder we have a skewed relationship with nutrition and body image. Add in a few highly caffeinated energy drinks and handfuls of sugar with each meal, and healthy gut function goes out the window. Are you ready to revolutionize the way you feel in your skin? Follow these five steps to bid farewell to digestive distress forever!
1. Re-evaluate Your Relationship with Food
Do you eat for pleasure? Snack when you’re anxious? Binge when you’re stressed? For many of us, food has become a comfort in times of displeasure, or a reward for a job well done. As with any addiction, sugar and highly processed junk food causes a huge surge of dopamine, followed by a down-regulation. This means that we experience a temporary burst of pleasure the first time we eat a handful of candy, but consume much more to replicate the same release a second time. One of the best ways to break this addiction is to replace these indulgences with a healthier behavior.
Instead of running to your favorite coffee shop at the beginning of your day, fill up on protein-rich scrambled eggs with a handful of kale and spinach. Soothe your frayed nerves with a cup of chamomile tea instead of sinking into that pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer. Swap that salty snack for a stress-relieving sprint around the block. By addressing your emotional needs with action instead of food, you’re creating positive habits and also supporting the health of your gut.
2. Assess Your Allergies
People with hay fever rarely choose to bale hay for a living. However, I see many patients who suspect they have food allergies but continue to expose themselves to these problematic foods! The difficulty often lies in our perception of what’s normal. A mother with a gluten sensitivity may worry that her son is missing out if he doesn’t have a normal birthday cake. However, she is not only putting herself in danger by encountering a known problematic substance, but she is also perpetuating a cycle of dependence on these unhealthy foods.
The solution is to definitively test for these allergies, and to eliminate them from your life permanently. A functional medicine practitioner can help you choose which tests are right for you. With your practitioner’s support, you can make healthy choices the new normal in your household.
3. Make Mealtime Count
In many cultures, the family meal is sacred. Instead of gathering around the television and eating as quickly as possible, the meal becomes the focal point. This positive attitude towards eating helps prepare the body for digestion. Consuming a meal while stressed, hurried, or upset significantly affects digestion. Stress can affect your level of stomach acid, can trigger inflammation, and can lead to increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut.
4. Befriend Good Bacteria
Probiotics are a booming industry these days, and with good reason. Many people have an imbalance of microorganisms in their digestive tracts. Antibiotic usage in meats, dairy, and eggs, and an overly medicated society can wipe out the beneficial bacteria that makes healthy digestion possible.
One of the best ways to replace these bacteria is through the consumption of fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir. Probiotic supplements are also available. Be sure to choose one from a highly reputable source to ensure that the bacteria survive in transport to you.
5. Find Herbs that Help
Functional medicine seeks to uncover the cause of your digestive distress. Herbs can help you manage your discomfort in the process. Be sure to check with your practitioner to find the right herbal regimen for you. The following are a few of my favorites for soothing stomach ailments:
· Ginger: This tangy, bright-tasting herb helps with nausea and increases circulation to aid digestion.
· Peppermint: Peppermint tea can help ease indigestion and gas.
· Chamomile: This comforting herb helps with digestion and prevents constipation.
· Turmeric: A spicy herb celebrated for its many properties, turmeric can help prevent cancer, and eliminate h. pylori, a type of bacteria found in stomach ulcers.
· Fennel: This tasty herb can help relieve stomach cramps, gas, and heartburn.
If you’re ready to ditch your digestive distress for good, take advantage of my free consultation! Together, we’ll assess your overall health and begin to uncover the root cause of your chronic issues. Learn to love your body again. Support your entire system with beneficial food. Learn to identify which supplements are essential for you, and also build healthy habits for yourself and your family.