A Gut Feeling: Better health through improved gastrointestinal function
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a complex network of organs, enzymes, acids, and organisms, and its proper function is essential for optimal physical and psychological health. Because of its complexity, however, it is a common area of dysfunction in the body. Gastrointestinal dysfunction begets such lovely symptoms as gas, bloating, heart burn, diarrhea, and constipation. Worse yet is that these are typically just the unattractive symptoms of deeper problems like the overgrowth of yeast, fungi, or other opportunistic organisms. The good news is that correcting GI problems not only helps your stomach feel better, it can also help alleviate more severe problems throughout the body.
The GI tract includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, colon, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. Its primary functions are digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of wastes. Another important function of the GI system is to assist with immunity. The beneficial bacteria (microflora) in the gut produce chemicals that directly boost immune function. The proper absorption of nutrients also benefits immunity by supplying the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight infection.
As was previously mentioned, the GI tract is a sensitive and complex network, so dysfunction in one area can disrupt the rhythm and function of the entire system. The table below lists some of the most common GI problems, the manifestations thereof, and ways to correct them.
|Low levels of beneficial bacteria|
|Overgrowth of opportunistic organisms (yeast, fungi, bacteria, parasites)|
|Insufficient digestive enzymes/incomplete digestion|
*A course of antibiotics or antifungals should ALWAYS be followed by probiotics
**You can still take probiotics while you’re taking an antibiotic as long as you separate them by at least three hours.
These are mostly general recommendations; the only way to know what is causing your specific symptoms and the best way to correct them is to have comprehensive GI testing performed.