Improving Gastro-Intestinal Health
Many people complain of gastro-intestinal issues that cannot be identified with conventional “check-up” laboratory and medical exams. One or more underlying imbalance may be involved, some of the most common being:
Hypo or hyperchlorhydria (low or high gastric acid production);
Sub-optimal enzyme secretion, either from the pancreas and/ or the villi in the small intestine (e.g. lactase required for the digestion of dairy foods);
Problems with bile synthesis or normal flow;
Dysbiosis (an imbalance of the intestinal microflora), which can include yeast or bacterial overgrowth, parasitic infections and/or undergrowth of friendly bacteria;
Intestinal permeability, commonly known as “leaky gut”.
Some typical signs and symptoms of GI dysfunctions include:
Excessive burping, flatulence or gas
Gastric reflux, which may or may not be accompanied by burning sensation
Constipation, diarrhea, alternating both (in this case, further tests can identify specific issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS)
Abdominal cramping or pain
Abnormal stools (too soft, too hard, pale in color)
Abstaining from certain foods that cause adverse reactions
These are just the most common signs, but there are other more unspecific reactions that may also be related to GI dysfunctions. Such symptoms can include muscular or mental fatigue, low mood, painful joints, headaches and overall low energy.
Some specific laboratory tests may be helpful in identifying many of these GI dysfunctions and imbalances such as:
Stool levels of bacteria, yeasts and parasites
Blood levels of inflammatory markers such as calprotectin, white blood cells or mucous
Urinary levels of organic acids, bacteria and yeast overgrowth
Salivary levels of mucous membrane antibody secretory IgA
Hydrogen or methane excretion breath test
Salivary enzymes ratios
It is important to identify these issues with a health practitioner and seek dietary therapy with a qualified nutritionist who can design a personalized and specific nutrition program. An elimination diet may be recommended, especially if the individual suffers from sensitivity to certain foods.