Welcome to our exciting next blog on Chapter 2, When Digestion Goes Wrong !
Honestly, I have yet to come across someone who can say,“you know, my digestion has always been perfect!”
As I cruised through the pages, I wondered, how do I know what I’m eating is truly healthy? So, as we consume our routine foods including dairy, fruits and veggies, the fibers, proteins and carbohydrates are potentially sneaking behind our gut walls (leaky gut) and generating a factory of problems – food sensitivities, allergies, bloating, constipation, autoimmune conditions (e.g. celiac, thyroiditis), mood issues, headaches, joint pains, diabetes, obesity, fatigue…..you name it!
Good news: There are solutions to help us 🙂 …some are very simple, and are helping many of us who follow, and some are complex, but necessary for those of us who have such health issues.
So, before I reveal the answers, my one question that many of us often have:
Q. Why do we suffer from GI and other related health issues?
A. Often it is due to altered gut flora, also known as ‘gut dysbiosis’ which can result in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Other conditions include food intolerances, low stomach acid, inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, slow gastric emptying (gastroparesis), GERD or reflux disease, GI infections (bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeast), Celiac disease, Non-Celiac Gluten sensitivity, gallbladder diseases and gallstones, bowel obstructions, hiatal hernia (can also cause reflux symptoms), increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), candida (yeast) overgrowth (this is often underdiagnosed!), irritable bowel syndrome or IBS (diagnosis of exclusion!). Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section. We are not surprised if the information is overwhelming…but it’s the truth!
In the previous blog, we talked about low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) as a major contributor to our GI health issues, especially as we age. In fact, hypochlorhydria paves way for the bacteria to colonize our small intestines, the place where food nutrients get absorbed. This Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a total menace! Yes, if you have bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, food sensitivities, and other unpleasant symptoms, consider SIBO. SIBO is a chronic infection of the small intestines by bacteria that were meant to reside in our colon. These bacteria make use of their new real estate (small intestine) to brew their own fermented energy cocktail by using nutrients from the foods we eat, especially sugars and starches. The fermentation produces lots of gas, causing a cascade of GI symptoms! Moreover, SIBO can feast on food vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B-12 and iron, making us nutrient deficient. The best available method to diagnose SIBO is breath testing. Unfortunately, the test is expensive and fails to diagnose 40%-50% of SIBOs. This means it’s a good idea to treat SIBO solely based on high suspicion. The quickest way to treat is with antibiotics with a 70%-90% success rate. Please consult your physician for the antibiotic of choice. Researchers have found a combination of rifaximin and neomycin for 7 to 14 days to be most effective.
Often we use the words food sensitivity and allergy synonymously. There’s a big difference between the two. With sensitivity or intolerance, severity of symptoms depends on the amount consumed (dose response). However, with food allergies, even a tiny bit will trigger an allergic reaction which can be fatal. Other synonymous terms are Celiac disease and Gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is a form of severe gluten sensitivity in which the immune system attacks the gut lining with gluten exposure. And the intestines, like a worn out carpet, lose their ability to absorb nutrients and defend our body against harmful substances. A simple blood test can reveal whether we have the Celiac antibodies or not. If we don’t, then it’s a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. The ideal treatment, like for any sensitivity, is an elimination diet, and in this case, a gluten-free diet. So what the heck is gluten, anyway? Gluten is simply a type of protein found in grains, mainly wheat, barley, rye and oats (unless labelled gluten-free). Unfortunately, it’s hard to sustain a gluten-free diet, and there’s often some level of gluten contamination, or the artificial ingredients in gluten-free products can trigger digestive symptoms. Apart from gluten contamination, SIBOs and other food intolerances can also prevent a celiac gut from healing.
Now supposing, we don’t have or have treated a GI infection, a SIBO, hypochlorhydria, bowel inflammations, obstructions, cancer, and other known causes of our GI symptoms, then what’s our next step? Now, here’s where we have our answers!!!
The first step is to prevent further gut damage by eliminating different foods in a step-wise manner till we discover which food we are sensitive to and that we should avoid. Also, we should stay away from processed and cancerous foods as much as possible by eating clean. Clean food includes organic fruits and vegetables, clean proteins such as grass-fed beef, wild caught fish and free range chicken and eggs, non-GMO foods, healthy oils (e.g. coconut oils, peanut oil), and filtered water. Yes, this journey can take a few months or more….though better safe than sorry is a good rule to live by, especially when your health is at stake. We also highly recommend having a conversation with your physician for colorectal cancer screening. It is definitely worth it!!
While we follow an elimination diet, we also need to heal our damaged gut by taking the right probiotic 🙂. The probiotics over the counter which are not refrigerated are dead bacteria. Dead ones cannot colonize and help our gut health. The refrigerated probiotics have the live bacteria and only few brands have bacteria which are particularly friendly to the human gut!! Dr. Marlisa Hurt is an Anti-Aging Medicine Specialist with extensive knowledge on holistic medicine, nutrition and probiotics. Her probiotic recommendation from AnovaHealth.com has helped many people recover their GI health and heal from other disorders as well.
Before I close today’s session, just a few quick updates:
- Our next Be REAL club meeting will be held on March 18, 10:30 am and 6:30 pm (choose either one), at 9400 Creeks Crossing Blvd, Richmond, VA 23235.
- Feel free to dine and wine at Mosaic café on April 1st, and 15% of proceeds will be donated to HCB2. You may click on the below link to make reservations:
Thank you for reading this blog. We hope it was helpful. Please do not hesitate to ask or comment. Every question and comment is truly valuable. We are here to help. 🙂
Have a wonderful week!