Gut Health

Listen To Your Gut: A Brief Guide To Digestive Health

Written By: Dr. Michelle McConnell

There are 327.2 million people in the US as of 2018. Would you believe that 74%  (or 242 million) have some kind of digestive difficulty. This can range from gas, bloating and pain to Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis and even cancer. More than half of these people admit that they have not discussed their symptoms with a doctor. The majority of those have some kind of IBS symptoms described as pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating. A person gets diagnosed with IBS when they have these symptoms and all other causes have been ruled out.  In the medical field, we call this a diagnosis of exclusion. The problem is that a diagnosis of IBS explains a persons symptoms, but the patient still does not know what is the root cause of these symptoms. 

Even more problematic are that these symptoms tend to be a sign of a larger issue but are  for the most part ignored. Patient’s are often left thinking that they have to live with these symptoms. Symptoms like acid reflux, cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and even fatigue are signs that something is wrong.  In most health issues if these symptoms don’t get addressed they will inevitably become something larger down the road.

If you have been to your doctor and they have no answers its time to get more help from those that specialize in gut health.  At Live Well Wellness Center, we see many patients that have been to their doctors to get help with these symptoms and are left with being told all your tests are normal.  While prescriptions can help they often mask the symptoms and don’t address the root cause of the problem.

There are many factors that can contribute to IBS like symptoms that the conventional medical system does not look for. Conditions we see in the office often are SiBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth), food intolerances, candida overgrowth, and a dysbiotic microbiome.  All of these conditions are testable and can be treated. If you experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or cramping then one (or many of) these conditions may be contributing to your symptoms. 

Maintaining a Happy Gut

Most days your gut should be without symptoms and you should feel comfortable after eating. Sure, sometimes we tend to over eat and feel full but this should be without discomfort. Stress, aging, and an unhealthy diet can all affect your gut health, sometimes to the point of disease.

Meals should be digested in a timely matter and feel like they are moving through your gut well and not sitting in your stomach like a stone.  There should be a healthy well-formed bowel movement every day if not two a day. There should be no urgency immediately after eating but also no straining to have a bowel movement. These are the habits that should exist in a healthy gut, all without pain or discomfort. Sure there can be some uncomfortable days but those should be few and far between.

What can you do to improve the gut function?

Sometimes simple things practiced at home can make a big difference. A great diet consisting of good fiber and nutrients are essential in any gut health. Your gut is your relation to the world around you. It is how we assimilate what we need to live. It is not completely about the healthy diet but really about absorption and assimilation of those nutrients. Problems with absorption and assimilation mean deficiencies in nutrients, vitamins, fats and proteins all needed to supply our body with what it needs to run properly.

With deficiencies we tend to see bone loss, immune issues, mental emotional issues, muscle loss, and even more frequently fatigue and premature aging.

Some tips that you should consider to optimize your gut health:

  1.     Take Digestive enzymes.  Digestive enzymes are great to add to a healthy diet in order to improve digestion and stomach acid. Sometimes when we have an unhealthy diet for long periods of time it alters the digestive enzymes we naturally make which can result in symptoms like heartburn, bloating, constipation and overall poor digestion. Adding in a source of healthy pancreatic enzymes with great digestive herbs can improve gut functions markedly.
  2.     Eat the right portion sizes. Portion control is important to maintain a healthy gut. While we all may binge on occasion, it is not good to over eat on a regular basis. Frequently overeating causes the stomach to stretch while altering hormones that help with hunger control and satiation.
  3.     Eat a Well-Balanced Diet. Eating a healthy diet is probably the most important factor to maintaining good gut health.  The lack of a healthy diet is the biggest reason why we start to see problems in digestion. Poor diet contributes to the lack of nutrients, low fiber, increased numbers of chemicals from processed foods and lack of healthy fats.  These together wreak havoc on or digestion and gut microbiome. We always say, a large part of our immune system resides in our gut. If your natural gut microbiome is altered, it can contribute to poor immune function and less absorption of vital nutrients that keep you healthy.  

Ready to Learn More about Gut Health?

Join me, Dr. Michelle McConnell, for the Follow Your Gut: Common Causes of GI Symptoms and How to Keep Your Gut Healthy on March 21, 2020 at 10am at our center!
2905 W Warner Rd, Suite 25, Chandler AZ 85224
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