The topic of gut health is becoming more and more popular in the media these days – from the advances being made in the scientific fields of microbiome research to the fermentation movement - it seems everyone has an opinion about what to try and what works. It can be quite confusing and overwhelming if you are trying to find the answers for your health questions but don’t really know where to start or how to decipher the information you are presented with; or if any of it even pertains to your circumstances at all.
Understanding what you are dealing with in the first place is a vital component to moving forward with your health in a confident, affirmative way.
How do you figure out if you have a gut problem in the first place?
There are many signs and symptoms that can present and they vary from person to person and can range in severity and presentation. You can start by asking yourself how many of the following statements are true for you:
I experience constant or chronic bloating or you’ve found yourself saying “by the end of the day I look 6 months pregnant”
I regularly (on a daily or weekly basis) experience an uncomfortable level of fullness after I eat
I regularly (on a daily or weekly basis) experience acute or chronic diarrhoea or constipation or an alternation of the two
I regularly (on a daily or weekly basis) experience urgency to use the toilet
I’ve recently found that foods I could normally eat, no longer agree with me (this can also be known as adult onset food intolerance)
I regularly (on a daily or weekly basis) experience reflux and/or indigestion, cramping and/or excessive gas
I’ve been given a diagnosis of IBS or another digestive condition (e.g. Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis) with no recommendations on how to manage or help my condition
I have noticed I have an increased susceptibility to and occurrence of colds and flus
I travelled to _____________ and my gut has never been the same since
I regularly take antibiotics or have a history of regular or high antibiotic use
I notice that there is mucous and/or undigested food in my stools
I have a history of worms, parasites, etc. or have been exposed to people or places that have
I tend to have (or have a history of) chronic/ongoing stress in my life
My diet is high in processed foods
I have food intolerances but still eat the foods that don’t agree with me
How did you go?
Did any of the statements ring true for you? Did ALL of these statements ring true for you?? The chances are that if you answered yes to some, most or all of these statements, they are causing some level of discomfort for you - and who wants to live an uncomfortable life? Not you! The goal of Naturopathic work is to find the cause and treat it, so you can get back to living your life, enjoying your food and not worrying about what’s going to happen every time you need to eat or use the toilet!
So WHY is this happening?
In most cases it comes down to a case of gut dysbiosis (a fancy word for imbalance). There can be several contributing factors to the cause of gut dysbiosis. These can include:
Illness or infection like a gut bug or parasite
Toxin overload, overuse or misuse of medications, etc.
Dysbiosis (or imbalanced gut bacteria)
SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
The symptoms and the intensity of digestive imbalance can present differently in everyone depending on the level of damage and how long it’s been happening for. There are also different areas of the digestive system that issues could be occurring in, for example - the stomach with H. Pylori infection; the small intestine can present with SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth; and the large intestine can be the site of parasite infection or certain types of inflammatory bowel disease. So it goes without saying that if everyone presents with different signs, symptoms and conditions, then the treatment should be as individual as you are.
How Naturopathic care can help you:
As Naturopaths, we see countless cases in clinic of people presenting with all sorts of digestive problems – from chronic diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease where long term management is required; to people whose digestive function has just taken a hit over an indulgent holiday period and just needs a quick reset.
One of the things I love most about working with people on their gut health are the range of tools available to help which extend from thorough case taking during consultation to comprehensive stool testing. What this means is that for each case we can do as much or as little as needed to achieve each client’s personal health goals. Treatment options can include (but aren’t limited to):
Taking a comprehensive case history where we discuss each detail of all of the areas of your life and health that have and could be impacting your gut health
The use of dietary analysis to figure out how to use food medicinally to repair and restore gut health and integrity, as well as investigating potential food intolerances.
Using tools such as the CDSA (Complete Digestive Stool Analysis) to look at health markers like your levels of good and bad bacteria, digestive enzymes, inflammation markers, etc. in your digestive tract, which can help to streamline your treatment approach. Often times in cases where we can't quite crack the WHY something is happening, a functional stool test can give us the answer we need to TREAT THE CAUSE directly - saving precious time, money and energy. Other testing options also include SIBO testing and Food Intolerance testing.
A Naturopath can help to determine which treatment approaches and/or types of testing will be most relevant to your symptoms and can check for the underlying cause of your digestive woes. We also have the capacity to work alongside GP and specialist protocols in order to provide a holistic approach to supporting your health and helping you achieve your health goals.
So if you’re fed up with crappy digestion (no pun intended) book in to see a Naturopath today to discuss your symptoms and treatment options to get your digestive health back to balance.