“Why can’t my Gastroenterologist get me better?”
This is a common question I encounter weekly. In this week’s blog I will use my 30 years of experience managing digestive disorders to hopefully give you some answers. Typically, what I have observed over the years is that patients with digestive problems have one or several of the following 9 UNDERLYING causes:
1.Bacterial and/or yeast overgrowths
This occurs when any food reaches the colon before it is digested. Then it gets digested by bacteria. An overgrowth of bacteria and yeast will occur when this happens too often.
2.Low beneficial gut flora
Flora is very important when it comes to digestion and gut health. It’s important to maintain a healthy amount of beneficial gut flora to help with digestion, producing vitamins, and battling off pathogenic microorganisms. Having low beneficial gut flora is the cause of multiple chronic digestive conditions including but not limited to:
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
3. Insufficient stomach acids or digestive enzymes
Having low stomach acids and digestive enzymes can cause A breakdown/ nutrient absorption problem.Stomach Acid is made up of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL). HCL is derived from B Vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and chloride from salt.HCL aids in breaking down minerals and proteins, making them easy for your body to absorb, while also killing bad bacteria and parasites in our food.
Enzymes are proteins that break down food molecules, and turn them into fuel when you’re metabolizing. This is where your body will get energy needed for general growth and development. Having insufficient digestive enzymes is the cause of many digestive health issues.
4. Bacterial Gastrointestinal Infections
The two most common causes of Bacterial Gastrointestinal infections are E. Coli and Salmonella.Bacteria such as E. Coli can secrete a toxin that causes abdominal cramping, blood in diarrhea, and vomiting. E. Coli can be spread water that is contaminated, direct personal contact, or through food that has come in contact with animal feces.
Salmonella is a gastrointestinal infection caused by eating raw meat, poultry and eggs.Gastroenteritis is a classification used for the majority of salmonella infections
5. Inflammatory foods/food sensitivities & intolerance
Certain foods can cause inflammation. A few common food sensitivities & intolerances are
- Lactose – A sugar found in Dairy products
- Gluten- A name given to proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale
- Caffeine found in tea, coffee, soda, and energy drinks
- Salicylates are natural proteins derived from plants going into defense of diseases and insects
- Amines from bacteria caused by food storage
- FODMAPs which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols are classified as short-chain carbohydrates
6. Autoimmunity against the gut
Gut microbiome plays a big role in immunity. Common gut bacteria produces a protein that can cause the onset of many different autoimmune diseases like:
- Celiac Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
7. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Consuming certain medications such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause stomach lining irritation. This irritates and weakens the resistance of stomach acid, and can cause long term digestive problems such as
- Gastritis -Stomach lining inflammation .
- Stomach ulcers,
- Bleeding or perforation of the stomach lining
8. Hormone imbalances
Gut function is influenced by your hormones through your intestines microbiome and bacterial system. When there is an imbalance in your hormones, the amount and function of gut bacteria will be affected. Common symptoms of hormone imbalance are bloating, diarrhea and nausea.
9. Neurological Dysfunction
Neurological Dysfunction can cause digestive issues and gut disorders. Some of the more common gut disorders that result from neurological diseases are:
- Coeliac Disease
- Selective vitamin E deficiency
- Pernicious Anaemia
- Nicotinamide and Thiamine Deficiencies
All of these lead to a breakdown of the gut barrier which leads to many systemic problems. This is not the topic of the day but can be investigated further on my hour-long digestive video on my website.
Traditional GI tests Won’t Tell You the Cause of your Digestive Problems
Here’s the thing I want you to know. All of these nine causes of digestive dysfunction can vary from person to person, and the typical tests that a gastroenterologist runs will not discover ANY of them. You see, typical GI doctors run tests to look at the structural damage caused to the gut. Tests like an endoscopy or a colonoscopy are important to see WHAT IS going on, but they say nothing about WHY its going on.
Simply put, they look at the structure and not the function. The following are a list of tests that I have found absolutely crucial to be effective in helping those with digestive function, whatever the cause or causes may be.
Crucial Tests for Aiding in Digestive Function
- Food sensitivity testing (be careful these are a lot of poor tests out there!)
- Leaky gut test
- DNA stool analysis looking for infections yeast and/or bacterial overgrowths AND the levels of beneficial gut flora.
- Hormone testing including comprehensive (at least 8 markers) thyroid, cortisol, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
- Test looking for certain gut bio-markers like fecal calprotectin, elastase-1 enzymes, secretory IgA and short chain fatty acids.
These are some of the tests that we offer at our clinic. If you’re interested in learning more, please request more information To discover how functional medicine might apply to your specific condition. Contact us at Beyer Natural Health Solutions today.!