By Dr. Jenna Dye,
In naturopathic medicine, digestive support is a primary focus. Our digestive system is our body’s main connection to the outside world and what we put in it can affect our overall health. Digestion is key to nutrient absorption, immunity, and toxin elimination. Identifying the root cause of digestive symptoms is an essential component to whole patient wellness.
Food can be one of the most common causes of inflammation. We focus on diet in detail to identify any foods that could be aggravating the digestive tract. Common foods are wheat, dairy, eggs, corn as well as artificial sweeteners and other food additives. For further investigation, we may also discuss IgG food sensitivity testing to help identify specific foods for you. From there, we eliminate them for a certain period of time, heal the gut and then reintroduce the food. Sometimes, it just takes a little break from those aggravating foods to heal the gut. It is like wearing a shoe that causes a blister: you have to stop wearing the shoe for a period of time, let it heal, and then try the shoe on again.
Imbalanced Gut Flora
We have a very diverse microbiome in our digestive tract. This is a combination of good and bad bacteria that live harmoniously in our gut. Stress, food sensitivities and other health conditions can all disrupt the microbiome and lead to symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Antibiotics, which are necessary in certain situations, can disturb our microbiome by killing off all bacteria (good and bad). Once this happens it is more difficult for the good bacteria to repopulate. Prolonged use of antibiotics causes an imbalance in bacteria and can lead to bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth. It is important to support the gut during and after any antibiotic use to ensure that the good bacteria are replenished. We are able to identify any bacterial or yeast overgrowth with specific testing and then treat with proper probiotics and additional support that are tailored toward each patient.
Underlying illnesses can also affect the digestive system. Thyroid disease can have a direct effect by causing constipation or loose/frequent stools. Autoimmune conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and leads to more severe symptoms of gas, bloating and irregular bowel movements. Many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or even acne can be traced back to digestive health and can improve with the appropriate digestive support. Certain medications can also be a culprit and are investigated if symptoms arise.
Stress hinders our immune system and increases inflammation. Inflammation is the basis of autoimmune diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so stress reduction is also a priority for digestive health. Anxiety can negatively stimulate the digestive system, which can hinder nutrient absorption and cause digestive upset. Stress management and lifestyle changes are an essential part of digestive support.
See Your Naturopathic Physician
A complete history, physical and appropriate testing will allow you to piece together all aspects that may be affecting your digestive health. Treatment is always individualized to your specific needs.
Dr. Jenna Dye is a licensed naturopathic physician. Her role is to support the body’s foundation to restore and maintain optimal health. Together with her patients, this is achieved by identifying and removing barriers that may be impacting health while creating a healing environment. For more information, visit drjennadye.com.