BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Most of us don’t pay attention to body processes unless we have annoying or painful symptoms. Let’s take digestion for example: gas and bloating are annoying and abdominal cramping is painful.
According to the American college of Gastroenterology, over 95 million people in the US suffer from some type of digestive problem. Americans spend more than $100 billion annually on over the counter digestive care products. Wait periods for seeing GI specialists are sometimes upwards of 3 months. Frankly speaking, there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to digestive health. There is the upper GI (stomach & esophagus), lower GI (colon) as well as the Liver and Gallbladder!
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down everything we eat and drink, extracting the vitamins & minerals from it and turning it into energy for the body. This is an amazing and difficult job considering what some of us eat. Nevertheless even with a good diet, over time, the digestive system becomes weak and symptoms can develop. This simply means the digestive system needs a tune up so it can function optimally once again.
A busy life on the run is a strain on digestive function. The digestive system works best when we are relaxed and can peacefully eat and chew our food. This is the parasympathetic nervous system at work which is fondly referred to as “the rest & digest nervous system”. Incidentally this is also the nervous system, which allows us to have a restful sleep. Disturbed digestion often goes in conjunction with disturbed sleep.
Conventional medicine focuses on symptom suppression to treat digestive disorders. We have antacids, anti-diarrheas, bowel relaxers, inflammation blockers, all aimed at quieting the symptoms down. Remember that symptoms are our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Suppression is not the same as fixing a problem.
Many people have food sensitivities and allergies that put a strain on the digestive system. Two of the most common allergens are gluten and dairy products. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is a sticky substance that helps keep breads moist. Often patients feel better when they avoid gluten and diary products over a period of time. The minimum elimination time is three weeks. This helps de-stress the digestive system and allow it to heal.
For assistance with following a gluten free diet, click here!
Note from Dr. P:
Good digestive health is critical for our overall health.
Based on the above statistics, the American population is suffering from poor digestive health. As digestive health continues to decline, more people will be looking towards natural medicine to support digestive function. Integrative Medicine offers many remedies that have been successfully used for over 100 years focused on restoring and repairing this system. Remember that Integrative natural medicine focuses on treating the cause not suppressing the symptoms, in this way health is restored. Often patients ask me if they will need to take supplements forever. Nothing is forever, because natural medicine treats the cause. Often the digestive system can bounce back without the need to rely on supplements long term.
Wishing You Well,