The Basics in Recovering Gut Health

Gut Health doctor

By Georgia Tetlow, MD 

If gastrointestinal digestion and absorption are impaired, many recommended treatments—diet, supplements and other interventions—won’t be able to work optimally. Upper and lower endoscopy, if performed, may reveal inflammation only. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), GERD, peptic ulcers and gluten sensitivity are the most common gastrointestinal issues. Many of these conditions overlap, with more than 40% of IBS patients reporting additional reflux symptoms. Join us on 11/28 to learn how a PIM provider can help heal your gut.

Up to 78% of irritable bowel syndrome patients test positive for small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO). These bacteria are not pathogenic—they don’t cause infection—but rather represent an overgrowth or overpopulation of bacteria in a part of the GI tract where nature did not intend. A healthy stomach and small intestine contains low levels of bacteria, and more than 80% of bacteria actually resides in the colon.

Gut flora are maintained by gastric acid and pancreatic enzyme secretion, small intestine motility and the structural integrity of the GI tract. Gut motility—the speed with which food is guided down and out the GI tract--is crucial to digestion and absorption. More than 70% of IBS patients have impaired motility. Many diet and lifestyle choices including sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pain medicines, too many carbohydrates or too much animal protein and stress can play a role.

Leaky gut, or increased permeability to toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste or larger macromolecules is also a common linking factor or co-factor in GI complaints. Dysbiosis or imbalanced bacteria—growth of bacteria not intended for the GI tract—can also play a role.

Testing and Work-Up

History and physical, blood work, stool analysis, possible food allergy testing and other testing is part of a fundamental work up. In addition to your individualized work up, you may be to complete a Hydrogen Breath Test, to address which gases in particular are produced by your intestinal bacteria. A Breath test is performed at home and can take up to 3 hours! Hydrogen and methane gases are measured—hydrogen dominant bacteria are linked to diarrhea, methane producing bacteria are linked to constipation and sometime magnesium balance.  

It is important to work with a provider to determine the best course of action for your Integrative Medicine Plan. The good news is PIM offers a SIBO protocol for treatment in order to heal your gut- a system that contributes to a range of chronic illnesses.

Interested in connecting with PIM? Register for our upcoming group class at Cabrini College: November 28th - Your Gut Health: Healing Leaky Gut and SIBO with Lauren Houser, CRNP. Admission is FREE!

If you or your loved one has ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, or they are suffering from a chronic illness, please consider scheduling a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP or Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP.

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