Digestive problems often arise as we age and in times of stress. For some it might be behavioral in nature like eating too often or too quickly and while stressed or on the run. We can also point to diet where many eat too many ultra processed foods with suspect ingredients, too much sugar, or just too much in general - even of a good thing. Some people have to watch how they combine foods and are concerned with their ability to digest fats, or breakdown proteins, or their carbohydrate tolerance. Like any plumbing system, the digestive tact can become eroded leading to increased intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). Age, like stress, does seem to alter the production and flow of digestive secretions leading to the weakening of the digestive capacity resulting malabsorption and therefore affecting all systems of the body. Digestion is the mother of your health.
We eat not just for energy but to also build our bodies. Do we ever stop to think about the food that is being digested and how it is becoming part of our body?
I encourage you to think about when your food actually becomes you. This process of consumption, digestion, absorption, and elimination is at the core of our health. Every single cell in the body is dependent on what goes into your mouth - the nervous tissue, your muscle, your hair, your, fat, your mucous secretions, your bones, your blood, your immune cells - everything! It is no stretch at all to say that food effects every hormone, every neurotransmitter, your energy, your sleep, your mind, your libido, your reproduction, and ultimately your offspring too.
Maybe you are aware of this all and you eat a nutritious diet yet still suffer digestive distress. You need help!
I am here to help you if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or conditions:
Constipation - Difficulty emptying your bowels, usually associated with hard stool and a high level of effort, constraint or restriction. This can lead to stagnation and recirculation of waste facilitating a toxic internal environment. Also see SIBO, IBS, Hypochlorhydria, Infection
Diarrhea - three or more loose and watery stools per day. Often with a sense of urgency or lack of control. Of little concern if only lasting a day or so, but when diarrhea lasts more than a week it points to underlying problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, or something more serious such as infection or inflammatory bowel disease.
Leaky Gut / Increased Intestinal Permeability. The result of improper function of the tight junctions of the intestinal wall lining. Damage from numerous additives, medications, bacterial metabolites, fungal overgrowth, and even some naturally occurring plant chemicals or proteins, can cause substances (that should not end up in our blood stream) to set off a variety of immune reactions and activate the inflammatory cascade that can create a wide variety of symptoms from constipation and diarrhea, to skin reactions and food sensitivities.
SIBO - Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth. The recent understanding surrounding the involvement of the bacteria in the GI tract has catapulted SIBO to the forefront of disorders of the gut, with a great degree of overlapping symptoms. Primarily associated with constipation (methane) but there are plenty who test positive on SIBO breath tests who suffer with diarrhea (hydrogen sulfide). Testing involves drinking a sugar solution that certain bacteria can ferment before it is absorbed, thus producing these hydrogen or methane gases that are measured in the breast over 2-3 hours of sample collection. There is plenty of controversy surrounding the interpretation of the test which varies depending on the patient's motility and consistency of stool and their individual bowel tolerance for large doses of sugar. Because SIBO is often a disorder of motility there is a high association with hypothyroidism.
GERD - Gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a digestive disorder marked by burning irritated pain usually following a meal, often worse at night, and often accompanied by regurgitation of sour liquid/stomach contents. Other symptoms can be chest pain and/or difficulty swallowing and/or feeling of having a lump in your throat, asthma, and chronic cough. GERD is a result of dysfunction at the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach, the improper opening and closing of the sphincter allows digestive juices and other contents from your stomach to rise up into your esophagus. Heart Burn is the symptom associated with the acid reflux and are commonly used to describe the occasional occurrence, but if this happens regularly it is likely GERD. Before treating GERD it is important to rule out H. pylori infection.
Hypochlorhydria: Reduced amount of acid in the stomach can affect the digestion of proteins and absorption of folate, B12, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach are associated with widespread use of antacids and proton pump inhibitors (prescription drugs that block stomach acid production), aging, and genetic causes. Symptoms look similar to excess acid production and can be linked to repeated use of antibiotics, food allergies and sensitivities, use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids, nutritional insufficiencies, alcohol abuse and more.
Malabsorption - Small intestinal disorders, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and intestinal parasites can affect absorption of various nutrients. The incomplete breakdown (maldigestion) and transport of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract is also associated with stress, anxiety, anemia, fatigue, poor secretion of digestive enzymes, hypochlorhydria, and general poor health and vitality.