We can help with that
At Valley Naturopath we have access to a number of unique therapeutic tools that can be really helpful for patients with digestive health issues. In addition, we can offer a fresh perspective and unique insights into your case. Our holistic approach, our focus on supporting the body’s natural ability to heal, and our drive to get to the root cause of your health concerns is what sets us apart.
Your digestive system is one of the most important systems in your entire body
In Chinese medicine, the digestive system is said to be the root of health. It is what allows us to absorb and assimilate the nutrients, fluids, and calories we take in every day and get rid of the waste. Healthy digestion is key to overall health, vitality and the proper functioning of every aspect of the body. Your body needs to properly digest and absorb nutrients and efficiently eliminate waste products in order to achieve and maintain optimal health. It is not enough to eat a “clean diet”. It is important for each person to figure out what an “ideal diet” is for them, based on their specific health needs, food sensitivities, lifestyle and age.
Many factors can affect the digestive system
- Food sensitivities – different foods can affect different people in different ways. Food sensitivities usually result in a low-grade reaction to foods resulting in chronic symptoms that become our new “normal”.
- Food quality – pesticide exposure, genetically modified food, preservatives, dyes and other hidden ingredients
- Immune health – allowing proper healing after a stomach bug, taking it easy on your digestive system during a cold or flu
- Gut flora imbalances – (eg. after a course of antibiotics, stomach bug, or colonoscopy)
- Health conditions (eg. diabetes)
- Surgery of the digestive tract
- Medication side-effects (eg. painkillers, acid-blockers, birth control pill)
Common symptoms related to digestive issues
- Discomfort before, during or after eating
- Low energy, fatigue
- Constipation or loose stools, discomfort before during or after a bowel movement
- Gas, bloating, indigestion
- Migraines, headaches
- Skin conditions (eg. eczema, psoriasis)
- Sinus congestion, chronic or recurrent ear infections
- Seasonal or environmental allergies
- Weight issues (eg. trouble losing or gaining weight)
- Joint pain, arthritis
- Mental-emotional concerns, cognitive issues
- Auto-immune conditions
Flora – the good bacteria in our gut
It’s remarkable, but the bacteria in our gut outnumber the human cells that make up our bodies ten to one! Isn’t that mind blowing?
Think of the good bacteria in the gut as a carpet that sits on the wall of our gut. These bugs play the very important role of presenting protein fragments to our immune system and saying “don’t worry about this one – it’s a food” or “attack this, it’s an invader”. If our flora gets thrown off, our immune system can very easily get sent into hyperdrive.
Our gut connects us with the outside world
If you think about it, our digestive system is essentially just a tube running through us that contains what we take in from the outside world each day. It’s important that this and other barriers between our body and the outside world are selective in what they allow in, so that we can take in what we need and get rid of the rest.
When there is inflammation in the gut for whatever reason: because of an imbalance in our gut flora after a round of antibiotics or after a colonoscopy, because of a food sensitivity which we are unaware of, or because of a bout of food poisoning, our gut-barrier can become slightly ‘leaky’, and protein fragments can start to send our immune system into hyperdrive.
Gut health is not just about the gut
The elders of the Naturopathic profession have highlighted the importance of “healing the gut” as a major first step towards health and healing since our profession was in its infancy and science is just beginning to catch up.
Mental health and our nervous system
There is a connection between our brain and our gut. Mental health can be affected when the good bacteria or flora are thrown off, and many of the receptors that are present in the brain (eg. melatonin, serotonin) are also present in the gut.
In addition, our nervous system can only be in one of two modes, ‘fight or flight’ or ‘rest and digest’. If we are stressed when we are eating then this can negatively affect our ability to digest. If we take a moment or two to relax before a meal, by taking a few deep belly breaths, or by establishing a mealtime ritual, it can go a long way to helping our digestive system function properly.
Finally, the beneficial bacteria in our gut are vitally important to our immune system as a whole. There was a study that came out in the fall of 2013 on a mouse-model of a specific cancer. One group of mice was given antibiotics prior to getting chemotherapy to intentionally throw off their gut flora. These were named the germ-free mice. The other group of mice did not receive the antibiotics prior to the chemotherapy. In this group of mice with the healthy gut flora, the chemotherapy drug was found to work more effectively.
This was the first study of its kind. It showed that changing the gut flora in one group of mice altered the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug. Pretty mind blowing.
This does not mean that probiotics are a good idea in cancer patients. Firstly, the study was done in mice, not cancer patients, and secondly, no probiotics were involved in the study. In fact there are situations where probiotics can do more harm than good for cancer patients, so please speak to your healthcare provider for direct and individualized advice.
It’s not just about the bugs!
The funny thing about bacteria is that creating and maintaining a healthy environment or terrain where the good bacteria will want to live and grow is as important as taking in sources of beneficial bacteria on a regular basis. If you create an environment that doesn’t allow the good bacteria to thrive, it doesn’t matter how many probiotics you take, you’re not getting the full benefit from them and as soon as you stop taking them any benefit you received could stop as well.
Let us get to the root of your digestive health concerns
Digestive conditions we can address at Valley Naturopath
- Food sensitivity testing, food sensitivities
- Crohn’s, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease
- IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
- Loose stools
- Diverticulitis, diverticulosis
- Stomach pain, abdominal pain
- Digestive enzyme issues
- Gas or bloatting
- Heartburn, GERD, acid reflux
- Celiac disease
- Gluten sensitivity
- Help going gluten free or dairy free
- Autoimmune conditions
- Dysbiosis, gut flora issues, candida
- Leaky gut
- High Cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Gallstones, Gall bladder issues
- Fatty liver, liver congestion, liver issues
- And many others!