Do you frequently experience any or all of the following:
- Heartburn and acid reflux?
- Bloating that makes you look pregnant?
- Excess belching, burping and gas?
- Constipation where you don’t pass more than 8-12 inches of poop per day?
- Loose stools or diarrhea?
- Nausea and even occasional vomiting?
- You’ve been diagnosed with “irritable bowel syndrome” (IBS) or GERD?
“All disease begins in the gut” ~ Hippocrates
The GI tract is one of the most sophisticated systems of the human body. We often think of the GI tract for its primary role in digesting and breaking down food, but that is only a small part of a much larger role that the GI tract plays in overall health and disease. The GI tract is truly the gateway to the rest of the body; if your GI health is compromised your overall health is compromised. The quality of GI health is highly influenced by lifestyle choices such as diet, physical activity, sleep, toxin exposure, and medications. Convenient and inexpensive food choices often contain little nutritional value and promote an increase of toxic burden. In addition, many people cope with daily stresses by turning to alcohol, tobacco, sugar and caffeine, and anti-inflammatory over the counter medications such as Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. Over time, these lifestyle choices impair the basic functions of the GI tract and create an environment for disease development.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the immune system are inextricably linked. 70-80% of your immune system is in your digestive tract. When you undergo stress, either emotional, physical, environmental or dietary, stress for a long period of time your stress response becomes compromised. And since your immune cells that line your digestive tract are regulated by your stress response, your GI tract becomes compromised too. That means you become more susceptible to bacteria, yeast, and parasite infections and food intolerances that cause the lining of your gut to become inflamed. Gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea may develop, however, the majority of people with gut infections have no obvious digestive symptoms, rather they have depression, anxiety, or fatigue, skin rashes, loss of working memory and learning (brain fog), arthritis, autoimmunity and many more seemingly unrelated health conditions.
How the gastrointestinal tract affects the entire body:
- Brain: Stress, Anxiety, depression, insomnia
- Skin: Acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis
- Thyroid: Gaves’ disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, weight fluctuation
- Liver: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Toxic burden
- Overall Health: migraines, fatigue or low energy, nutrient malabsorption, obesity, constipation or diarrhea.
- Cardiometabolic: Coronary heart disease, increased visceral fat, Type 1 diabetes, atherosclerosis.
- Immune System: Frequent colds, autoimmune, disease, allergies, asthma, inflammation.
The 4R Approach to Managing GI Dysfunction
I use a functional medicine approach for GI-related conditions called the 4R approach: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. The Remove step restricts toxic, pro-inflammatory and potentially allergic foods from the diet and eliminates harmful organisms. The traditional approach is to add a prescription medication to the body, but often the best medicine for your GI tract is in elimination and allowing the system to rest. After the critical Remove step, I can help you address the need to Replace with digestive aids, Reinoculate with probiotics and Repair your damaged GI tract.
The Pillars of GI Health
The GI tract is responsible for extracting the nutrients you need to thrive and maintain an appropriate balance of helpful and harmful microbes, while at the same time working with the immune system to prevent the entrance of harmful substances into the bloodstream. The GI tract has four core functions, called the Pillars of GI Health. The health of your digestive system is built upon these pillars and their interrelationship.
- Digestion and Absorption
- Elimination and Detoxification
- Microbial Balance
- Barrier Function
Chronic gastrointestinal dysfunction can play a profound role in the quality of your life. Many times, we look at each body system in its own silo, isolated from the rest of the body and its function. We now know this is not how to enhance wellness. Looking at the body as whole and identifying the root cause of illness often starts by identifying dysfunction in the gut. Our diet and lifestyle choices, the health our digestive and elimination processes, our gut microbiome and intestinal barrier health all have an important effect on our overall health.
The human body is remarkably resilient and maintains a metabolic reserve to help protect against disease. It is the lifestyle choices you make that either enhance or decrease optimal function. Disease doesn’t happen overnight, it is years and years of dsyfunction before disease appears. Ultimately, you hold the key to your wellness, longevity and vitality. The lifestyle tools provided on this site can greatly improve the quality of your health, however, sometimes it is not enough and functional lab testing is necessary to identify hidden infections and nutritional deficiencies that when removed and replaced would greatly enhance the quality of your life.
Stop The Constant Struggle
Through our Functional Medicine Programs and positive lifestyle changes you can have the power to slow the aging process and rejuvenate every cell in your body to open up a whole new way of living.