Gastrointestinal dysfunction manifests in typical digestive diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is also necessary to recognize that gastrointestinal dysfunction can manifest as dermatological symptoms, allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroditis, and other autoimmune conditions.

This emerging epidemic of autoimmune and digestive disorders is rising as we promote stress, meals on the go, unhealthy food choices, exposure to carcinogens and xenobiotics. Medical doctors in training are taught that our health is merely the result of our genes that we inherited from our parents, and that health is all preprogrammed and predetermined. This view also excludes the possibility that health also reflects the accumulation of the choices that we make and the environmental influences around us. The reality is that our health and well-being are the result of how our environment interacts with our genes.

When patients typically see a gastrointestinal specialist, they typical get an endoscopy and/or colonoscopy. Many patients with gastrointestinal symptoms have both of these tests come back normal, but they still are frustrated and in pain and discomfort. At this point there is nothing the doctor can do, but prescribe medication for their symptoms. Some of the problem with this testing is the fact that the patients microbiota or environment is cleared out and the structures of the intestines are looked at for pathology. There has to be a significant about of destruction before this will be seen. We have 100 times more bacteria cells in our body than human cells and how they interact with us is often ignored. Scientists have come to regard “the bacteria in our gut” as an extra organ of the human body. Our modern diets contain so many easily digestible processed foods, they may be reducing the populations of gut microbes.

Dietary approaches provide the most effective means to returning balance and dysfunction with the gastrointestinal system. Patients may need prebiotics, probiotics, enzymes, and anti-microbials to optimize the gastrointestinal environment. Diagnostic considerations include stool testing, adrenal stress testing, food antibody testing, as well as gluten testing or elimination of gluten from the diet. The great thing about the advances of stool testing is we can get a snapshot of our microbiota or gastrointestinal environment. Sure it can identify pathogenic bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc., but it also shows all the beneficial bacteria. Therefore, a custom targeted approach can be taken with each individual patient. Many autoimmune conditions need to be addressed by optimizing gut health. The problem is where do you go if you have an autoimmune condition? A rheumatologist. How many of times has a rheumatologist ordred a stool test on a patient? 0. Traditional medicine is so specialized, but these conditions involve multiple systems that must be looked at together.


Integrative Gastroenterology. Gerard E. Mullin

Scientific American. September 2013. Everything you know about calories is wrong by Rob Dunn

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