Digestion & Gut Health
We see so many patients struggling with persistent digestive symptoms.
They suspect there is an imbalance somewhere, but the problems are not being addressed.
They’re frustrated that they can’t find answers as to why they don’t feel as good as they should.
At The Integrated Wellness Clinic, our Naturopath’s use Scientific Pathology testing to systematically determine the cause of your digestive imbalance. Treating symptoms with band aid methods will never repair your health long term.
Have you ever wondered why or how you have ended up with a poor digestive system? These symptoms don’t just come on for no apparent reason. IBS is a bowel that is irritated and sensitive. Sensitive to what though? We find that most people who have IBS seem to be reacting to their seemingly “healthy diet”, developing an inflamed digestive system. When you’re in this state your body may find it hard to digest your food [feeling nauseous, gassy, bloated or suffer with erratic bowel movements] and so you’ll feel tired and drawn regardless of how good your diet is.
Our biggest concern in those who have digestive issues is, “how will you 100% absorb your nutrients in this state?”. Most people know to eat a balanced diet, but what many do not know is that often the nutrients are not being absorbed efficiently. Through simple pathology testing you can determine the extent of damage to the gut lining and thus nutrient absorption.
Many clients report that they can almost to the day identify when the problem started.
It may have been a very stressful occurrence in your life, an operation, a trauma, you picked up a stomach bug, after an overseas trip, hormone change or you started a new medication. Regardless of how you got it, it must be corrected in a thorough manner. Once we know exactly what your current physical state is then we can begin to formulate a treatment plan. We have seen many people who have tried every avenue of supplements and medication, the key is addressing all underlying triggers.
Your digestive system is to you the same as the root system is to a tree.
Without it, you cannot absorb the nutrients you need to thrive, just as a tree absorbs nutrients from the soil.
Imagine the damage to your whole body that can be caused when you upset your root system. For a tree, this then makes it unhealthy.
The key to repairing the foundations of your health is to find out what triggers your digestive system problems. There is always a cause.
Watch this video to gain a better understanding of IWC approach to correcting or preventing digestive dysfunction.
There are 5 predominant driving forces of digestive disease.
1. Food reactions-Sensitivities, Allergies and Intolerances
After you eat something your are sensitive to you should get constipation, loose bowels, reflux or bloating, right? Wrong! These may not be evident immediately hence this is why they are often overlooked. Clinically, we organise pathology testing for almost every patient and unsurprisingly most have reactions to foods that they are commonly eating. These foods have the potential to activate the “hypersensitive” part of your immune system, damage the gut lining and this cause irritation and lowered nutrient absorption. Sometimes an intolerance response can happen well after you have consumed the food making it tricky to identify.
2. Microbial imbalance
Bacterias, fungi, viruses, parasites could all potentially be causing your symptoms. Simple functional stool testing is able to give us a clear view of the level of “good functional” bacteria and pathogenic microbes that are living in your gut. You have trillions of bacterias in your gut and they can easily become imbalanced. Many people have imbalanced gut flora and have minimal symptoms.
A condition known as small intestinal dysbiosis (or SIBO) is characterised by excess bloating usually caused by an imbalance in bacteria. There are bacterias that help with the breakdown of carbohydrate, some fibres and others protein. When there is not enough of the “good guys” in there you will experience increased gas, reflux and bloating because the other bacterias will ferment your food and produce gas. Fatigue, foggy mind, irritation and poor motivation can be secondary symptoms of SIBO. There are tests that can determine the level of SIBO. If the food is not being broken down properly in the small intestines the large intestines have too much work places on them and hence Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may develop. The role of bacterial imbalance in IBS and SIBO is very well documented and recognised in both Naturopathic and Conventional Medicine.
3. The Gut:Brain Connection
When you are exposed to stress, trauma or illness your bodies hormones cortisol and adrenaline become out of balance. This greatly influences bowel movements as it can cause damage to the cells that line the gut. We know the feeling of “butterflies” in the tummy or nausea when we are nervous so we know there is a gut:brain connection. When you are stressed your body is unable to heal properly and digest food efficiently.
To have a happy mind you need to have a happy gut! In an article I was reading Dr Gershon, from University of Columbia, states that 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, this is your happy, feel good neurotransmitter!
For many people this is a tricky one to navigate, they feel deficient in nutrients, without enough nutrients the gut cant heal efficiently, thus they wont absorb nutrients efficiently and thus the cycle continues. It is important to assess nutrient status in the body, dietary nutrient intake and possibly nutrient absorption.
Hormones can strongly influence gut function. And gut function can affect hormones. Excess of certain hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and oestrogen can affect gut motility (movements) and integrity. Prolonged stress is known to affect these hormones which can throw out the balance of bacteria flora.
What can you do to assess your gut function?
Our Naturopaths are experts in identifying and narrowing down the best functional medicine pathology testing. The most common include:
- Complete Digestive Stool Analysis– to assess your complete gut flora (all the good and bad bugs), nutrient absorption, inflammation (stress in the gut) and generally the health of your gut
- Intestinal Permeability– to assess how “leaky” your gut is to assess how well you digest food and absorb nutrients
- SIBO breath testing– to assess if there is any bacteria overgrowth in the small intestines