Archive for the ‘Gut Health’ Category

Understanding the Top 4 Underlying Causes of IBS

(And what you can do about it)

By Jacqui Pariset, MD, founder of Denver’s Omnia Health

A lot of patients come to Omnia Health because they are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some have lived with it for years. Their life is ruled by diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, cramps, and fatigue.

These patients are miserable, frustrated and, unfortunately, practically tethered to a bathroom. When we talk with patients about IBS, they are surprised to learn that it’s actually a constellation of symptoms – not a distinct disease – and that it has a number of underlying causes.

As a result, resolving IBS is not a “one size fits all” approach. From a functional medicine standpoint, the key is identifying the underlying cause of each individual patient’s IBS, then addressing those specific issues to heal their gut.

Here are the main causes of IBS that we find with our patients:

1. Dysbiosis – Your gut has untold numbers of good and bad bacteria (known as microbiome). The good bacteria are essential to digestion. However, the bad bacteria (the “bugs”) are not supposed be there.

When we test patients, we have discovered parasites, yeast, and even worms. If we find dysbiosis, we treat it accordingly. Our goal is to put your gut back in a healthy state with a healthy microbiome.

2. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – This is the overgrowth of good bacteria from the colon, which have migrated up into the small intestine. Now happily relocated in the small intestine, they wreak all types of havoc: gas, bloating, maldigestion, and malabsorption of nutrients.

In fact, it’s common for people with SIBO to have B-12 deficiency. For patients with SIBO, we have a specific treatment plan to re-establish a healthy biome and encourage the good bacteria to stay where they belong.

3. Unknown food sensitivities – I’m gluten intolerant, but I didn’t know this for a long, long time. I thought it was strange that, after I ate gluten, my hands would hurt and my joints would ache. After studying functional medicine and nutrition, I found out why: Food sensitivities can cause chronic inflammation in our gut. (Science is discovering that this is way more common than we ever realized!)

At Omnia Health, we see that food sensitivities are a huge driver of chronic GI inflammation. Over time, the issue builds up and causes all the symptoms of IBS.

Here are the top 5 offenders:

✔ Gluten
✔ Dairy
✔ Corn
✔ Soy
✔ Sugar

Watch out! Several of these foods are common filler ingredients in many processed foods. You may not realize how frequently you’re eating these hidden, insidious offenders.

But there’s good news: We can identify your food sensitivity, work with you to remove that food from your diet, and help you heal your gut.

4. Stress – Given our society, you may not be able to completely remove stress from your life. But know this: Chronic stress can kill you. For many of our patients, a high stress level is the underlying cause of IBS.

If we discover it’s the cause of your GI issue, then our health coaches will help you learn how to manage stress, so it doesn’t affect your long-term health and wellbeing.

Struggling With IBS?

Here’s What You Can do and How Functional Medicine Can Help!

Take steps to identify the cause, heal your gut, and live your best life! When you team with a Functional Medicine doctor, you CAN get better. We see it every day in our practice.

The key is to work with someone who knows how to address these issues. At Omnia Health, our first step is to figure out EXACTLY what’s going on. We’ll work hard to identify the underlying cause of your IBS symptoms, then team with you to heal your gut.

Let’s address it and tackle it – so you can live your best life!

Related ArticleIBS: Constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas

 

Schedule a no-cost 15-minute consultation here. 

Still Struggling to Lose Weight?

4 issues that might be preventing your weight loss

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

A number of patients come to our office, discouraged that they’re unable to lose weight. “I’m doing everything right,” they tell us. “I’m following my diet faithfully. I’m exercising every day. But the weight is not coming off. Some weeks, I actually GAIN weight. Help!” Of course, we start by talking with these patients to ensure they are actively addressing basic weight-loss strategies: 

  • Eating a whole-foods diet with organic foods, lots of fruit and vegetables, healthy proteins, and heathy fats
  • Minimizing or completely avoiding sugar, processed foods, fast foods, and alcohol
  • Exercising regularly, for example, a daily walk, swimming, or high-intensity interval training 

We often find that patients truly are eating well and exercising regularly. They truly are doing everything in their power to lose weight. But, clearly, something else is going on. Now it’s time to figure out what’s keeping them from achieving their weight goals. 

What can prevent weight loss or contribute to weight gain? In our experience, these 4 health issues often contribute to the inability to lose weight – or the problem on ongoing weight gain. 

  1. Food sensitivities – In our functional medicine practice, the 2 biggest culprits we see are sensitivity to gluten and dairy. This is surprisingly common! Other food sensitivities include corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. But it’s very individualized – you may be sensitive to other foods – and this could be hampering your struggle to lose weight. 
  2. Gut dysbiosis – Gut bacteria play a large role in our overall health.  They can trigger inflammation, aid in digestion, and influence hormones that regulate hunger. Gut dysbiosis can be due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast, or parasites in your gut. Another condition known as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is when bacteria end up in the small intestine where they are not supposed to be.  Low healthy bacteria (called insufficiency dysbiosis) can also be problematic. An overgrowth of bad bacteria, for example, can cause gut inflammation. Subsequently, this can cause overall inflammation throughout your body, which can make it difficult to lose weight. 
  3. Hormone imbalance – As noted above, those tiny bacteria can make a big impact on hormone production. Did you know…
    1. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can be impacted by physical or emotional stress. Stress creates more cortisol in your body, which can signal the body to store fat. This means your stress levels can directly impact weight! Keep in mind, lack of sleep affects cortisol levels too. If you’re experiencing an ongoing lack of sleep, your body is under stress, and it can be hard to lose weight.
    2. Gut dysbiosis can impact the thyroid hormone, which plays a big role in regulating metabolism. If it turns out you have a low-functioning thyroid, this can certainly contribute to weight gain.
    3. Most people have no idea their gut bacteria impacts sex hormones. It’s true! Gut bacteria contribute to your body’s balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. How does this impact your ability to lose weight? Here’s one example: Excess estrogen is directly related to excess fat and water retention. Another example: Men and women who take supplemental testosterone should be aware that this can contribute to weight gain through a complex metabolic process.
  4. Exposure to toxins – Our modern world can expose us to quite a few environmental and chemical toxins, at home and at work. Examples include pesticides, herbicides, fuel emissions, toxic molds, radon, and heavy metals. Without doubt, toxicity can contribute to weight gain.

My recommendations for you…

If you are struggling to lose weight – or are continually gaining weight – start by exercising regularly and eating a whole-foods diet. Be sure to avoid sugar, processed foods, fast food, and alcohol. In addition, follow these recommendations: 

  • Follow an elimination diet for 6-8 weeks to eliminate dairy, gluten, corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. It’s helpful to know this is always our first step – our “gold standard” – when investigating the root cause of a patient’s health issue. 
  • Add fermented foods and foods rich in probiotics to your diet such as kimchee, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and dairy-free kefir (this is similar to a drinking-style yogurt and contains beneficial yeast). 
  • Be sure to increase the amount of fiber you get from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps our good bacteria grow. 
  • Do your best to minimize exposure to toxins. You may need to be tested for toxins and undergo Omnia’s detoxification program.
  • When you come to our practice, you can set appointments with Omnia’s health coach and brain coach. These pros will help you fine-tune your nutrition and exercise plans, so you can focus your efforts and improve your results. 
  • Try intermittent fasting. Remember, fasting is safe for most people if you eat within an 8- to 10-hour window. 
  • When you come to Omnia, we can conduct specialized lab testing to check bacteria in your gut, toxicity, food sensitivity, and all hormone levels. 

We’ll investigate to uncover the culprit and answer this question: What is really going on? 

We have a lot of patients doing so many things right with diet and exercise, yet they still struggle to lose weight. Often, one of the 4 culprits – food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, hormone imbalance, or toxin exposure – is a significant contributing factor.

This is a good example of how functional medicine can dig in, investigate, and figure out what is really going on. We can clarify the issues, uncover root causes, and successfully treat those health concerns that traditional doctors often cannot detect or simply overlook. 

 

There is no cost for a quick phone consultation. Just schedule a call! 

IBS: Constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas

Is this you?

You wake up to a beautiful Denver sunrise with a bloated and extended stomach. Immediately, you feel the urge to pass gas.

As you dress for work, you spend time (you don’t have) searching for the right pants you can comfortably wear (and zip) over your poor bloated belly.

At work, your stomach continues to expand and gas continues to build up. You hope that none escapes because you can’t face the embarrassment of releasing it around your coworkers and boss.

It’s so uncomfortable and miserable. You try hard to think what you had for dinner the day before, but nothing sounds like it could be the cause.

You suffer throughout the day to just go home and repeat this routine day in and day out.

It’s okay; you’re not alone.

In fact, up to 38-96 million Americans experience symptoms of IBS but only 5-7% have been diagnosed. At Omnia Health, it’s one of the issues people see us the most about. With our Functional Medicine approach, we are often able to bring significant relief to Denver area patients.

What is IBS and How Does Functional Medicine Help?

From a Functional Medicine perspective, we see IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as a very complex disorder. It’s not a single disease with a single cause nor a single treatment.

Instead, complexity occurs due to the multitude of symptoms and a multitude of potential causes.

Mild to severe symptoms can include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

These symptoms can fluctuate in severity and seemingly at random. (You may not experience them all the time, but rather in waves).

This complex disease isn’t officially considered an autoimmune disease, but it overlaps with similar risk factors of autoimmunity including: leaky gut, dietary factors, infections, inflammation, toxins and stress.

Potential Causes

As mentioned before, when Functional Medicine principles are applied properly, we discover many contributing factors that lead to IBS and for each person it may be slightly different. Some of the most common causes are:

  1. Overuse of antibiotics
  2. Stress
  3. Food allergies or sensitivities

Overuse of Antibiotics

One of the many things that contribute to IBS symptoms is an unhealthy microbiome in your gut.

Your gut can have up to 500 species of bacteria which weighs about 3 pounds! Imagine three pounds of yeast fermenting inside of you… that would produce a lot of gas, right?

 

Of course your gut is not full of fermenting yeasts (or at least we hope not!) but rather, good bacteria, bad bacteria and SUPER bad bacteria.

When your microbiome is healthy, it has more good bacteria than bad.

When your microbiome is out of balance, it means the bad guys took over – or they went to prohibited areas (like your small intestine).

How is this related to antibiotic use?

Antibiotic drugs don’t kill only the bad guys (like we wish).

Instead, when you take antibiotics you kill most of the bacteria, the good and the bad; you essentially press the restart button for your microbiome!

However, when you do this, often the bad bacteria grows faster because the competition for nutrients in the gut is reduced, and the bad guys take over and inhibit the good bacteria population.

So, the next time you take antibiotics think about your microbiome and the potential effects!

Stress

Research has shown a correlation between high stress levels and increased instances of IBS.

Your brain and your gut share a strong connection via the vagus nerve.

You might be thinking: “Yes, I know that, my brain is always telling my gut – SNACKS, PLEASE!”

However, your brain-gut connection is a two-way pathway. Your gut sends signals to your brain and vice-versa.

Your (healthy) gut produces 95% of your serotonin (a hormone that regulates mood and sleep). However, when your brain is upset (stressed) it sends signals through the vagus nerve which upsets your gut.

This can create IBS-like symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc.

Now that your gut is unhappy, it reduces serotonin production;

  • which less serotonin in your brain makes you feel more stressed
  • which reduces the serotonin production in the gut
  • which makes you feel more stressed
  • which reduces the serotonin
  • which makes you feel EVEN MORE STRESSED
  • which reduces the serotonin production in the gut
  • which makes you feel irritable and cranky

As you can see it can spiral out of control very easily.

Food Allergies and Sensitivity

Many food allergies or sensitivities can have IBS-like symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation (in addition to many other symptoms).

The most common food allergies or sensitivities that can potentially irritate the digestive system include (but are not limited to) gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, sugar and peanuts.

Perhaps you’ve heard the terms food allergy and food sensitivities thrown around, yet you don’t know the difference.

Food allergies cause a range of symptoms that affect different organs in the body through an acute immune reaction. In some cases, an allergic food reaction can be severe or life-threatening.

Food sensitivities, however, are not true food allergies, but rather low-grade reactions that occur several hours after food is ingested. These reactions can present in many different ways; from IBS-like symptoms to brain fog, fatigue and more…

Find Relief!

Just like different factors contribute to IBS, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. Everyone is unique and has different reasons that contribute to their IBS, therefore, they need to address the problem from multiple angles to find the root cause(s)! This is what Omnia Health’s Functional Medicine approach does – it dives deep into the real cause instead of just treating uncomfortable symptoms.

Here’s a few potential ways you can find relief: more than one approach may be needed!

  1. Fertilize your gut so the good guys grow stronger (aka prebiotics)
    1. Prebiotic Fiber can be found in many fruits and vegetables, such as apple skins, bananas, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root and beans
  2. Add good guys to your diet (aka probiotics)
    1. Probiotics are found in fermented food, like yogurt (only if you’re tolerant to dairy), kimchi, kombucha or sauerkraut
  3. Remove irritating foods and irritants from your diet
    1. This includes (but not limited to) gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and drugs.
  4. Control your stress levels
    1. Find something that works for you and do it regularly. For example, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, short walks or journaling
  5. Work with a Functional Medicine provider
    1. It’s best to work with someone closely to do specialized testing and so they can create a custom treatment plan based on your symptoms and what they identified as the root cause(s).

If you want to finally find relief from your systems and work with someone you can trust, Schedule a FREE 15-Minute Consultation with us.