Phase 2 is all about gut health
In Phase 1 we dipped into diet and nutrient status. Phase 2 is for women who need to fix a gut problem. This may be a symptom like:
Acid reflux • Belching • Bloating • Constipation • Diarrhea • Gas • Indigestion
Many of us think these uncomfortable symptoms are normal, hence we just endure them. Actually, these symptoms are not normal. In fact, they are a signal that something is wrong. There are usually causes we can identify and fix.
Let’s get to the root cause
Many of the following digestive illnesses can be eliminated, by finding root causes and fixing them. All of them can be improved:
Celiac disease • Diverticulosis • GERD (gastro-esophogeal reflux disorder) • Irritable bowel syndrome • Leaky gut • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity • Polyps • Ulcers • Ulcerative colitits
Recent patient example:
A woman had chronic constipation, which was lifelong. Her first four colonoscopies showed polyps, and the fourth had precancerous polyps. All she did was change her diet and use some herbs, and her constipation improved by 90%. Her fifth colonoscopy was clear of polyps!
Problems in the gut affect the whole body
Symptoms in other parts of your body may be caused by gut problems. These are very common examples:
- Acne, eczema, and rashes
- Allergies, puffiness and sinus congestion
- Anxiety, depression, and mental fogginess
- Arthritis, joint pain, and muscle aches
- Autoimmune diseases
- Headaches, migraines
- High cholesterol
This list is not all-inclusive, because there are many more brain and body symptoms related to gut health. However, with the list above, I always want to check gut health.
Recent patient examples:
A woman had dangerously high cholesterol, so her doctors insisted she go on statin medication. She reacted poorly. As a result she had excruciating pain throughout her body. So we did gut tests. They showed small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). We also found a highly pathogenic bacteria in her colon. Bacterial infections make toxic byproducts, which leak through the intestine into the bloodstream. Consequently they cause inflammation in other parts of the body. For example, high cholesterol is an an inflammatory condition. Interestingly, SIBO is often correlated with high cholesterol. We treated her with dietary changes and supplements. Three months later, her cholesterol levels were normal.
A woman with a serious autoimmune disease had high levels of SIBO. After treatment her autoimmune symptoms improved. She experienced an unexpected side benefit. Her frequent migraines, which were not her top concern, disappeared completely.
Gut detective work requires simple investigations
First, we find out what is provoking your gut. These are the top three investigative tests I rely on:
1. A breath test for SIBO
You may be able to convince your gastroenterologist to do this test. Otherwise, you can do it at home. It costs between $184-$199. Insurance may cover.
2. A stool test kit completed at home
This tests digestive function and inflammation markers. It also tests all your large intestine microbes. You’ll know if you have pathogenic bacteria, parasites or yeast. It will also show your levels of good bacteria. The best approach is to start with a comprehensive stool test, which runs from $129-$345. Insurance may cover, depending on your plan. If we treat anything, we retest later. The retest can often be less.
3. Food intolerance testing
We look for delayed food intolerances. These are different than immediate food allergies. Cyrex Labs is the gold standard lab for testing delayed food intolerances. They have many different panels with varied prices.
You can also self-test food intolerances by experimenting. The best case scenario is to do Cyrex labs plus self-testing. I highly recommend that anyone with autoimmunity or inflammation test for food intolerances.
Why test and not just treat?
You can waste a lot of time and money by guessing. Guessing is shooting in the dark. I used to rely on clinical experience and patient symptoms to assess. Through the years I have learned it is far more cost-effective to figure out exactly what to treat:
- An overgrowth of microbes? What type?
- Insufficient good bacteria? What type?
- Under-production of enzymes? Which ones?
- Inflammed or irritated gut lining?
- Low anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids (SCFAs)?
- Foods intolerances? Which ones?
You get further and faster in your treatment when you test. We can make clear and precise treatment decisions instead of shooting in the dark.
What does treatment involve?
When microbes need knocking down, we use antimicrobial herbs and supplements. These are often more effective than pharmaceuticals, and better tolerated. We also use specific probiotics that knock down pathogens.
Certain food intolerances mean lifelong elimination. Others mean temporary elimination, and then reintroduction later.
The most important part of your gut lining are your healthy microbes. We build these through foods that feed good bacteria. We can also use specific prebiotics and probiotics.
This sounds almost too simple
It can be simple! For many women, fixing gut problems is simple. For others it is more complex. Luckily, in Functional Medicine we have many treatment options. We can go at your pace, and truly structure treatment to you as an individual.
The digestive supplements you already take
Much money is wasted on supplements that mask underlying problems. Why not solve the problem? Do you have a cupboard of supplements that you randomly take? Do you even know if you should take them? Don’t trust Dr. Google. Get expert help from a trusted clinician. Digestive supplements are often unnecessary and sometimes harmful!