- Imbalance in digestion and the microbiome is likely the root cause of the majority of diseases.
- The majority of digestive disorders are preventable and treatable with diet and lifestyle alone.
- Over 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year and digestive disorders account for 10% of all hospitalizations.
- 60-70 million Americans are affected by one or more digestive disorders.
- In the US there were over 48 million visits to physician offices for diseases of the digestive system in one year (2010)
- Heart burn/reflux/ GERD
- Irritable Bowel disease (Crohn’s and colitis)
- Ulcer/peptic ulcer disease/H. Pylori
- Diverticular disease
- Liver and pancreatic disease
Most common treatments for digestive ailments are:
- Avoiding food allergies, food intolerances and food sensitivities
- Supporting the microbiome with fermented foods and probiotics
- Eating lots of fiber in your diet (goal is 40g daily)
- Staying hydrated – drink ½ your body weight (pounds) in ounces daily
- Stress reduction
- Avoiding foods high in sugar, refined foods, fried foods etc
- Removing pathogens such as overgrowth of candida, pathogenic bacteria and parasites/protozoa
Restoring health in a symptomatic GI tract
John presented to the office with chronic diarrhea and fatigue. He had a diagnosis of celiac disease and although he avoided wheat diligently he still had an unruly GI tract. In my clinic experience autoimmune disease is often associated with recurrent food allergy exposure, chemical toxicities and chronic dysbiosis (unequal balance of gut flora).
John had been to every specialist and was told that he had “IBS” as well as celiac and this was just his new reality. He was not ready to accept that fate. We ran several tests and found that he had additional food sensitivities as well as a highly inflamed GI tract barrier. Enterocytes are the prominent cells that make up the GI tract barrier and they require specific nutrients and environmental factors to regenerate properly, and thus protect the body properly. When there is a lot of inflammation in the GI tract it is also very hard for the enterocytes to heal even if a person is doing “all the right things.”
John immediately started avoiding the additional food he was sensitive to and we used several rounds of natural antibiotics and probiotics to try to restore the GI tract back to balance. We also added in several herbs and supplemental powders known for their efficacy in healing the GI tract.
Progress was very slow but gradual until a trip to Mexico set him back. After John returned from this trip he found his symptoms had returned to their original condition, and with a vengeance. I referred him for repeated stool tests to determine if there was a parasite present. Unfortunately all tests came back negative, which is common for stool testing due to the fact that parasites are very hard to catch in a lab. Another month went by and things did not resolve so we treated with anti-parasite medicine regardless and found an immediate improvement in symptoms.
We then added in homeopathic remedies and a different healing protein powder and had immense improvement. Within another month John had normal bowel movements, did not suffer any diarrhea and felt “better than he had in years.”
As a naturopathic doctor I truly believe that the GI tract is the cornerstone of health. Naturopathic medicine has incredible tools to heal the GI tract so a person can have optimal health. No person should suffer from “IBS” which is just a diagnosis of exclusion ruling out major disease and is not a diagnosis of its own. I have seen hundreds of patients with IBS and know it is almost always a food sensitivity or a chronic low grade GI infection…both very fixable conditions. With naturopathic tools it becomes possible to heal almost all chronic GI concerns.
-Dr. Nina Lewis-Larsson
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