Gut and digestion issues explained
Are you eating well, feeling comfortable and fully satisfied after meals? Then that’s great. If that isn’t the case, then there may be an underlying digestive issue. Below we’ve outlined just a few of the gut and digestion issues we treat here at the clinic.
We hope you find it helpful.
Many of us have experienced a bout of Gastroenteritis, the infection that causes vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and lack of energy as well as inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of the stomach, small and large intestine.
It is often caused by food poisoning, bacteria, virus, or parasites and while your body usually clears the infection within a few days, sometimes there can be lasting effects, especially on your digestive health.
This is because Gastroenteritis can change the balance of your microbiome, leading to a reduction in the quantity and diversity of good bacteria in your gut. This can in some cases, cause health complications in the long-term.
One potential outcome is a type of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) known as post-infectious IBS. The prognosis is good for recovery from this type of IBS, and symptoms usually go without need for further treatment. But in some more severe cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, it can take a few months or years to resolve. We treat a number of people whose gut has been affected in this way and although this type of IBS is uncomfortable, the good news is it doesn’t increase the risk of other diseases or disorders after symptom resolution.
Do you know what does the term ‘leaky gut’ means? Leaky gut is a colloquial term for a small intestine which isn’t working properly and is spilling proteins and other nutrients prematurely into the blood stream. The medical term for ‘leaky gut’ is intestinal permeability.
Intestinal permeability occurs when the barrier of your small intestine has been breached. This breach may be down to bacteria drilling down into your pipe’s barrier, or fungus rooting down into the substrata.
Intestinal permeability is a common condition we treat people for at The Maas Clinic. As with all of our clients’ problems, we aim to get to the root cause of a person’s ‘leaky gut’, in order to devise a treatment plan which promotes good long-term health. In the case of ‘leaky guts’, we remove any bugs which are causing the membrane breach, replace missing enzymes in the small intestine, and repair the colonic membrane.
We make sure that our clients’ pipe is sealed and working properly again.
Stomach ulcers, it’s a big topic! Also known as gastric ulcers, these are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach. Ulcers that occur in the small intestine just beyond the stomach are called duodenal ulcers and both stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers are sometimes referred to as peptic ulcers. We hope that’s a bit clearer!
Symptoms of peptic ulcers include:
- Feel very full or bloated.
- Discomfort after eating fatty food.
- A burning stomach pain.
So what causes peptic ulcers? Long-term use of aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, and have you heard of H. pylori? It’s the Helicobacter pylori bacteria who’s infection in the gut can also cause ulcers. Whilst stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers, they can make your symptoms worse so are best avoided.
If you are struggling with any of these symptoms we’d be happy to talk to you in more depth.
Acid reflux is also known as heartburn or acid indigestion. It occurs when your stomach acid flows back up and into your oesophagus – the tube connecting your mouth and stomach and irritates the lining.
This often happens after eating and although diet and eating habits play a large part, lifestyle factors do too. You are more at risk if you smoke or are severely overweight.
Symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Acid regurgitation.
- Heartburn usually after eating, which may feel worse at night.
- Trouble swallowing or feeling you have food stuck in your throat.
- A sore throat the next day.
There are of course over the counter solutions, but these will only provide short term relief the symptoms, they do not find and treat the root cause of the problem.
If acid reflux is something you suffer from regularly there are steps you can take to improve the situation.
- 1. Don’t eat to late or too much.
- 2. Limit your alcohol and fizzy drinks.
- 3. Avoid coffee and drink more water.
But if symptoms persist it may be worth seeking some professional help to avoid this becoming something more painful such as GERD. More on that in a couple of posts time. If you want to contact us, we can help figure out what’s going on. We’ll run some tests and look at your diet and lifestyle with a view to making some changes that will positively impact your long term health and wellbeing.
Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD – they are all the same thing aren’t they? Actually they are different although they share some symptom similarities. We talked about acid reflux a couple of days ago, it’s a more common condition that can range in severity from mild to serious. However, Gastroesophageal reflux disease – shortened to GERD, is the chronic and more severe form of acid reflux.
GERD occurs when your stomach acid flows back up and into your oesophagus – the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This acid reflux then irritates the lining of your oesophagus.
You may experience mild GERD from time to time, many people do, but if you are suffering daily this can cause real discomfort.
Symptoms of GERD include:
- Heartburn usually after eating, which may feel worse at night.
- Difficulty swallowing or regurgitation of food or liquid.
- A sensation of a lump in your throat.
- Chest pains
As with acid reflux, there are of course over the counter and prescribed medications but these only serve to relieve the symptoms temporarily and do not treat the root cause of the issue. And ignoring it can make it a lot worse in time.
That’s where we can help. Functional Medicine is diagnostic. It is about figuring out what’s going on, on a cellular, organ and hormone level. Integrated Medicine is looking diet, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and sleep patterns with a view to making changes that will positively impact your long term health and wellbeing.
IBS (or Irritable Bowel Syndrome) causes extreme discomfort for many people and can have a very negative impact on their quality of life, which in turn often effects the way they feel about themselves and their body.
So what is IBS? It’s a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning in very general terms, the bowel function is upset.
These symptoms vary from person to person but common signs are:
- Chronic and persistent abdominal pain.
- Constipation and diarrhoea.
- The urge to move your bowels but you aren’t able to do so.
- Mucus in your stools.
- Bloating and the sensation of feeling full.
- Abdominal swelling.
These symptoms can often occur after eating a large meal or when you are under increased levels of stress, but as they are often temporarily relieved by having a bowel movement.
And who can get IBS? In most cases women are affected more often than men and symptoms often begin in late adolescence or early adult life, during times of emotional stress.
It is also fairly common that those suffering with IBS can also struggle with disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic joint disorders, and people struggle on with these symptoms needlessly. Please don’t suffer in silence, there is help out there.
Please note anemia, bleeding, weight loss, and fever are symptoms of IBD, not IBS. If you are experiencing any these symptoms we’d advise you speak to your health practitioner.
IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) are two distinct gastrointestinal disorders, though many people find the differences confusing. We hope this helps to make it clearer.
While they have some similar symptoms, IBS and IBD are very different conditions and outcomes and require different treatments. Therefore, it’s essential to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can properly manage your condition.
- Stomach pain
- Rectal bleeding
- An urgent need to move bowels
- Feeling as if you still need to ‘go’
- Feeling feverish
- A loss of appetite and / or weight loss
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Night sweats
- Erratic or no menstrual cycle
- Inflammation in the digestive tract for eg: ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
The differences between IBD and IBS are:
- Is classified as a disease
- Can cause destructive inflammation and permanent harm to the intestines
- Can cause an increased risk for colon cancer
- Is classified as a syndrome (a group of symptoms)
- Does not cause inflammation and rarely requires hospitalisation or surgery
- Does not increase the risk of colon cancer or IBD
How to diagnose IBS or IBS
We are delighted to now offer a fantastic diagnostic test that provides a conclusive diagnose of either IBS or IBD. It provides the diagnosis more quickly than previously possible, is less exhausting and intrusive for our clients therefore saving not only stress and frustration but cost and time too.
We are also extremely proud to say we are the only UK clinic able to offer the IBS Smart Test, so if you are struggling with any or all of these symptoms and are interested in taking the test do get in touch.
So… what does a healthy digestive system look and feel like?
If you are digesting your food and absorbing nutrients well, you should have good levels of energy, clear skin, strong hair and nails and sleep well at night. After eating you should feel comfortably satisfied, not bloated or gassy and certainly not lethargic. Your weight would remain steady and you should have regular bowel movements that don’t take effort or strain.
Here are our top 5 tips for keeping your gut and digestion healthy:
- Drink more.
Stay well hydrated. It may sound obvious but liquid helps soften poo and encourages the passage of waste through your digestive system.
Protein is an essential part of your diet. If you eat meat, choose lean meats as fattier meats can add to your discomfort and limit foods that are high in fat as these slow down the digestive process and put more strain on your system.
3. Pre and Probiotics.
Add pre and probiotics into your diet Probiotics such as kefir are a mix of healthy bacteria and yeasts naturally present in your digestive tract. They help improve nutrient absorption and work to strengthen your immune system. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics, helping them support healthy bacteria in the gut. They are found in raw vegetables and fruit, whole grains, oats and onions.
4. Avoid the stressers.
If possible lose the caffeine, alcohol and stress as these all play a part in aggravating your digestive process and can increase the likely hood of many of the issues we’ve talked about above.
5. Eat regularly.
And finally, if possible eat at regular times each day to allow your gut to process your food effectively. Avoid eating on the run and ideally sit for these meals as eating slowly and mindfully will also improve your digestion.