If you dive into Google you’ll find 210 MILLION results for “how to fix the gut”.
Another ‘special’ diet.
Another food sensitivity test.
It seems we’re slowly losing the forest through the trees. Complexity continues to grow as the literature shows that medical knowledge is DOUBLING every 73 days.
But despite this increase of knowledge, we’re still seeing a consistent rise in general GI dysfunction and clinical pathologies. In fact, it’s estimated that twenty-five percent of all surgeries are related to problems with a patient’s gastrointestinal tract.
Out of all bodily systems, consistent gastrointestinal distress seems to affect the quality of life most. But, many patients are uncertain about what’s driving their symptoms – does all disease begin in the gut? What about my mood, energy, and sleep? Can my gut affect those too?
Let’s dive in…
The Chicken or the Egg?
Bloating, cramps, constipation, food sensitivities, fatigue – sound familiar?
If you’re like most folks you’re going to experience GI symptoms at some point in your life. While these symptoms may seem normal to most, there is most likely a larger issue at play if they begin to interfere with your day-to-day life.
For example, we often see patients who have dealt with heartburn for years on end as they assume that TUMS are part of a ‘well-balanced diet’.
Your gut is like a rainforest and when one part of the ecosystem becomes disrupted then you can be sure that there will be systemic fallout in other areas as well.
However, the gut isn’t always the cause in and of itself. Sometimes it’s merely the witness to the crime but folks (incorrectly) assume that the gut will self-correct over time.
Sometimes it will but often it won’t and you need external intervention.
“Why Does My Stomach Hurt?!”
Unfortunately, it’s not always a cut-and-dry answer.
There are plenty of mild reasons you can experience discomfort in your abdomen. Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerances, or even a wicked case of norovirus (aka your friendly neighborhood stomach virus) can cause GI symptoms.
However, if the pain or discomfort lingers even after you remove the offending food or pathogen, then it might be time to dig a little deeper.
We often see many of the following in the functional medicine world of GI symptomatology
- Low keystone commensal bacterial strains
- Poor stomach acid secretion
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- Colonic inflammation
- Loss of oral tolerance
- Parasitic infections
Celiac disease is often thought to be a major driver of GI inflammation and mucosal aggravation, but often we find NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity) to be a larger concern. Put more simply, your immune system reacts to gluten every time it is consumed and this could show up in a variety of symptoms: joint pain, dry skin, diarrhea, or even acne.
Overuse of NSAIDs or long-standing PPI (anti-acid medication) usage can disrupt the intestinal lining and (potentially) reduce the absorption of key micronutrients such as iron, B12, and magnesium. Therefore, we have to take a comprehensive approach when it comes to ruling out digestive issues in all our patients.
Often you won’t find a singular diagnosis such as H. Pylori or Candida, they’re merely one small part of a larger ecosystem. Remember how we discussed the rainforest above?
These overgrowths are present because the internal environment allows for their growth and colonization, not the other way around.
Treatment and Resolution
Though many patients suffer from the same symptoms, we seek to treat every single individual from a place of biochemical individuality and genetic uniqueness. There is no one size fits all prescription, we wish it was that easy.
There could be multiple underlying issues leading to your discomfort so we have to take every individual component into consideration. Dietary intake, familial history, dental health, environmental exposure, international travel, water sourcing, and micronutrient sufficiency all play a key role in the health of your microbiome.
There’s no need to suffer endlessly. If altering your diet or using over-the-counter medication isn’t helping, it’s time to dig deeper. We’re here to help, take charge of your health and reach out so we can put the pieces together and get you feeling better.
Contact Functional Health Center today at (704) 625-2994 to book your appointment.