Get treatment for:
+ IBS, SIBO, Crohn’s, Acid Reflux, GERD, Celiac’s, and other digestive disorders.
Integrative medicine opens a whole new world of possibilities for digestive issues. When using lifestyle medicine, there’s a number of treatments that can move digestive issues into remission.
Looking For a Doctor For a Digestive Issue?
How do I know if I have a Digestive Disorder?
Digestive diseases are difficult to diagnose, and many people go years or longer before receiving a proper diagnosis. They also are co-factors in a number of other conditions including heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and even anxiety or depression.
While there are many different types of digestive disorders, digestive pain, bloating, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, irregularity, or blood in the stool are all signs of an issue.
Painful digestion can feel like a normal part of life. Actually, healthy digestion is meant to feel smooth, regular, and free from all discomfort. If you’re feeling pain or discomfort during digestion, it’s likely affecting many aspects of your health. Untreated digestive issues can affect weight management, sleep, stress, emotions, and immune function.
In Integrative health, so much emphasis is put on proper digestion because it’s often the root cause of so many other health issues.
Chronic, unmanageable stress is another signal that you may have a digestive issue. The largest concentration of neurons outside the brain or spinal cord is in the digestive tract, making it a central player in your stress levels. Multiple studies have linked chronic stress, anxiety, and depression to digestive issues. Stress and digestion have a reciprocal relationship; digestive diseases reduce your body’s ability to cope with stress, and the increased stress itself can disrupt digesting, making it a vicious and dangerous cycle.
Stress impairs the stomach’s ability to release crucial acid release to help break down your food. If food isn’t breaking down properly in your stomach, it becomes more difficult to digest as it moves into your small intestine, causing inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients.
Fortunately, there’s a huge variety of life-changing treatment options available for digestive issues. Regardless of your diagnosis or rate of severity, improving your digestion will pay huge dividends to almost every area of your life.
The Root Causes of Digestive Disorders:
Most digestive symptoms are the result of the body’s inability to break down nutrients, leaving “bad-bug” microbiomes to have to break them down for us.
Tired organs don’t generate enough digestive enzymes and chemicals to properly digest your food, which creates symptoms of pain and discomfort. If these root causes aren’t addressed, they can get more and more serious. Serious digestive diseases like IBS, Crohn’s, or ulcers, typically occur when your body continually cannot break down its food. This can lead to a host of additional health problems like nutrient deficiencies, stress, and more.
Most digestive issues are caused by the following manageable root factors:
1. Low Digestive Enzymes
If your pancreas is overworked from constantly breaking down hard to digest, processed food and sugar, it won’t create the right cocktail of enzymes required to digest your food. This can lead your food — particularly carbohydrates– to ferment, causing gas and discomfort.
2. Low Bile
The liver creates an essential digestive chemical called bile. The liver pumps bile into the gallbladder, which helps primarily with the breakdown of fats. If the fat molecules are too large (from low-quality, cooked oils), your body can’t break them down and they end up in your lymph, the body’s waste system. This causes you to feel all yucky and toxic inside.
3. Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid) Out of Balance
Hydrochloric acid in the stomach is highly acidic (it would burn your skin immediately on touch). This chemical is regulated by proton pumps in the stomach and is essential for breaking down complex proteins, often found in red meat. If you have low stomach acid, your stomach won’t be able to break down proteins and will leave the role for the small and large intestines, where it causes all sorts of discomforts. If your acid is too high, it may move up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn.
4. Inadequate Chewing
It sounds simple, but if you don’t chew enough, your body can’t break down essential macronutrients into a size it can properly digest, absorb, and assimilate. It’s not important what you eat, it’s important what you can digest, absorb and assimilate. Proper chewing is absolutely essential to digestion. You should chew each bite of food 15-20 times for optimal digestion.
5. Bacterial Overgrowth
All of the above may be reasons why the food isn’t properly broken down by the time it reaches the colon. If undigested food reaches the colon, it has to be broken down by bacteria. Too much of this undigested food causes infestations of “bad” biomes. Some amount of this bacteria is helpful, but too much of it can cause gas, bloating, and much worse if unmanaged.
Fortunately, there are numerous well-studied, natural approaches that can help to reduce digestive symptoms that don’t involve drugs. Some treatments are diagnosis-specific, but most of the evidence-based treatments include diet changes and stress-reduction measures that can improve your digestion regardless of your specific condition.
At Wisdom, our doctors break this down into 3 distinct steps:
1. Remove Irritants
Our doctors will order advanced gut-biome and food sensitivity testing to identify specific dietary irritants. For most people, this includes limiting processed foods, and refined sugars. For some people, removing gluten, a specific protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, can also limit inflammation. Even if you don’t have celiac disease, removing gluten can help you build a healthier gut lining.
However, everyone’s gut is incredibly unique. We use a science and mindfulness-driven approach to identify specific irritants.
2. Replace & Repopulate
With your most aggravating irritants removed, it’s now time to begin replacing the foods you eat with foods & supplements that help build a healthy gut lining. You’re likely missing certain digestive chemicals, enzymes, and nutrients essential to the digestive process. Replacing and repopulating may include:
- Foods & herbs that help the body produce your missing digestive elements. For example, bitter foods like cranberries, arugula, and bitter melon can help produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes.
- Supplements like soluble fiber, betaine HCL, digestive enzymes, and bile-salts that help digest fat, lactose, carbohydrates, and protein. Note these are typically used as short-term solutions, and shouldn’t be relied upon long-term.
- Rebuilding your gut-biome with a targeted set of probiotics, taken regularly over the course of time to rebuild your biome. This can take up to 6 months to do properly.
A recent meta-analysis of nearly 1,800 patients from multiple studies proved probiotics reduce pain and symptom severity in IBS compared to placebo. Please note, rebuilding your gut biome is far more complicated than simply taking a probiotic. To do this properly, it’s important to do this under the care of a great Integrative Doctor & biome testing.
Stress and anxiety play a significant role in digestive disorders. Truly reversing a digestive issue long-term often comes down to properly managing stress. Multiple clinical trials have shown two techniques, in particular, meditation and mindfulness, can significantly relieve pain and improve digestion overall.
The Rebalancing phase is all about:
- Managing your stress through targeted mindfulness
- Improving sleep
- Developing a proper gentle movement routine
While this may seem like a lot of work at first, when you have proper guidance and are seeing improvements each week, the process can feel extremely rewarding. All Wisdom members receive access to a personal functional medicine doctor, as well as our Foundations of Healing group for regular support from a doctor as you make targeted lifestyle changes.
Questions About Membership?
One of our advisors can help with all of your membership questions.