Sunday, January 24, 2021

Gastrointestinal and Digestion

Gastrointestinal and Digestion

Gastrointestinal and Digestion

It has been said “you are what you eat”. In alternative medicine, we are more likely say “you are what you digest”! There are many health conditions that have their root in gastrointestinal problems. GI disorders including intestinal yeast infection, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, acid reflux and numerous others are frequently part of the picture in other seemingly unrelated conditions. Health problems such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, food allergy, hypoglycemia, stress related fatigue and a long list of others often have a GI component which, when undetected leaves the patient and physician with less than satisfactory outcome. Of all, intestinal yeast infections are probably the most overlooked or even denied by physicians.

This discussion will address three common gastrointestinal conditions which your doctor may not have adequately considered. There are many symptoms related to these three conditions which are frequently overlooked by physicians, even gastrointestinal specialists. The symptoms range from the obvious such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea to those not usually thought of as relating to the digestion including arthritis, muscle and joint pain, allergies, food sensitivities, yeast infection, immune disorders, asthma, headache and many others. Good digestion is paramount for good health. If you have a health condition that is not responsive to medical diagnosis and treatment and you have anything but the best of good regular eating, digestion and elimination habits, you should carefully consider the following information. However, for a complete picture of the gastrointestinal impact on your health it is imperative that you study the related pages found elsewhere on this web site. Please see the Related Pages of this Web Site information at the end of this Gastrointestinal page.

Gastrointestinal and DigestionHypochlorhydria is a condition of insufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) levels in the stomach. As acid secretion decreases with age, many people are deficient in HCl and do not know it. Medical literature states that 40% of people past the age of 60 are low on HCl. There are even studies of asthmatic children being low on HCl who, upon receiving supplemental HCl experienced improvement in their asthma symptoms. There is a problem. It lies in the fact that the symptoms of low HCl are nearly identical to the symptoms of excess HCl and consequently we find people taking antacids looking for relief of excess HCl when they in reality have LOW HCl. Just exactly the opposite to what they should be doing. HCl insufficiency leads to incomplete digestion, poor absorption and resultant symptoms related to poor nutrition in spite of the fact that you may be eating well and even taking supplements.

You can do a simple test to see if HCl may be of benefit to you. You should do it under the auspices of your clinical nutritionist if you try it. That is simply to take an HCl tablet after eating and observe your response. You should see a decrease in gas, belching, or bloating. Do not do this test without professional supervision if you have a history of stomach ulcers, irritation or inflammation. There are other tests for hypochlorhydria which your physician can perform if indicated including a Comprehensive Stool and Digestive Analysis (CDSA).

If you are hypochlorhydric, you can supplement your digestion by taking hydrochloric acid supplements. They should be taken after meals. Most all good nutrition supplement companies carry an HCl product usually referred to as “Betaine HCl”. Other oftentimes beneficial supplements include replacement of the friendly bacteria in the gut with Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Increased dietary fiber will promote healthy digestion especially soluble fiber which is found in vegetables. Certain herbs stimulate gastric acid production including gentian, ginger, and peppermint.

Malabsorption occurs for a variety of reasons. These include hypchlorhydria (low stomach acid), pancreatic digestive enzyme insufficiency, and intestinal dysbiosis (an imbalance in the intestinal bacterial colonies called “flora” which normally reside in the gut). Malabsorption occurs when, though a person is eating well and maybe even taking supplements, the nutrition that is being consumed is not making it into the blood stream. Rather than being absorbed it is being eliminated through the stool.

The presence of malabsorption can be confirmed by a laboratory test called the Comprehensive Digestive and Stool Analysis (CDSA). Another less comprehensive test is the Urinary Indican test which measures incomplete digestion of protein. It can be ordered by your clinical nutritionist.

If you are experiencing malabsorption, you will get the guidance you need from lab testing to know what to do about it. Typically, hypochlorhydria is addressed by taking HCl tablets. Pancreatic enzyme insufficiency can be supplemented with pancreatic enzyme or vegetable based enzyme tablets. Intestinal dysbiosis will best be treated by first removing abnormal overgrowth of unfriendly microscopic flora and or microscopic parasitic organisms and replacing them with friendly flora. This is not the end of the story regarding malabsorption but for our purposes here further in-depth discussion would only be confusing. Suffice it to say that if you have a CDSA performed, the report your practitioner receives back from the lab will include a detailed explanation of the lab findings. A knowledgeable clinical nutritionist will provide you with all the dietary guidelines, supplements and other information to successfully deal with malabsorption.

Gastrointestinal and DigestionParasites come in many different forms. Usually, when we think of parasites, we think of intestinal worms or some other disgusting critter. However, the smaller microscopic organisms are much more common findings than worms. These organisms include yeast, amoeba (that's the single cell one you looked at under a microscope in school), giardia, and several strains of bacteria. All of these “unfriendly” organisms can be found in the intestinal tract under normal conditions living in balance or synergy with normal healthy “friendly” bacteria. It is when an overgrowth of the unfriendly cultures occurs at the cost of lost friendly cultures that it becomes a deterrent to good health. If you have spent time in foreign countries, even a little, had parasites as a child, lived in close proximity to animals, have ever had food poisoning or unexplained diarrhea, or have a history of parasites, you could be entertaining these unwanted visitors. If you suspect you may have parasites of some type, talk to your clinical nutritionist about a Complete Stool and Digestive Analysis (CDSA). Treatment of parasites is specific to whatever organism is being addressed. Any practitioner who is familiar with the CDSA will know what to do.

The Comprehensive Health Assessment available through the web site link below is a good tool to evaluate your gastrointestinal symptoms and their relationship to other conditions discussed on the site. Medical research continues to document the connection between good gastrointestinal health and a number of other difficult health conditions. The good news is that the G.I. conditions discussed above and their related symptoms are treatable through alternative medicine and nutritional protocols. If you have completed the Comprehensive Health Assessment and believe there may be a G.I. component to your health, present this information to your alternative medicine practitioner.


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