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A Digestive Health Perspective with Functional Medicine

Medical conversations about gut health often revolve around weight loss program and food intake — a natural place to begin in relation to a fancy digestive system that requires coordination among the many esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and small and enormous intestines.

More broadly, gut health plays a outstanding role in a single’s overall health and wellness, with gut bacteria and other microbiomes impacting cardiovascular health, obesity levels, diabetes, cancer and other chronic conditions.

Worse, a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) can result in more serious disorders like chronic fatigue, brain fog, arthritis, and allergies.

And a growing body of research into the “gut-brain axis” shows that digestive issues have been linked to mental health disorders equivalent to anxiety and depression.

A 360-degree approach — The symptoms of digestive illness often present as abdominal pain, acid reflux disease, cramps, bloating, nausea and more. In functional medicine, we take a more holistic approach by considering the patient’s overall health, lifestyle and weight loss program when developing a treatment plan, including a series of lab tests that help provide a 360-degree view of the symptoms on display.

We are going to enlist a comprehensive stool evaluation to evaluate gastrointestinal health, including a test for the presence of intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut,” which may sometimes be identified by elevated levels of the protein Zonulin in blood or stool tests.

Gut-healthy diets — While weight loss program is only one piece of the healthy gut puzzle, it’s a vital one. Listed below are a number of gut health, dietary best practices:

• eat whole foods high in fiber — fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes

• eat foods high in probiotics: yogurt, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods

• limit sugar intake

• follow a variation of the Mediterranean weight loss program, which is wealthy in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and high in fiber. Staples of this weight loss program include olives and olive oil, whole grains, little to no beef.

• reduce or eliminate processed food, which is high in sugar, unhealthy fats and artificial ingredients, including soda and other sugary drinks.

Food allergies or other insensitivities also can adversely impact gut health. Seek advice from your medical skilled concerning the potential need for dietary supplements, equivalent to those who boost fiber, or magnesium, which has also been shown to profit gut health.

The 5R Framework — In relation to digestive health, functional medicine specialists depend on what’s often called the 5R Framework: Remove, Replace, Re-inoculate, Repair and Rebalance.

Remove: Discover and take away any food or substance that is likely to be causing inflammation or dysbiosis (a microbial gut imbalance), through either a food elimination plan and/or a comprehensive food sensitivity test.

Replace: This step involves replacing missing nutrients or digestive enzymes using supplements equivalent to digestive enzymes, bile salts or stomach acid, based on a person patient’s test results.

Re-inoculate: Repopulate the gut with helpful bacteria, through the use of proper probiotics and fermented food. This restores the balance of the gut microbes and improve digestion, immunity and overall health.

Repair: Repair any damage to the gut lining, equivalent to using L-glutamine, zinc and other supplements that help repair and maintain the gut lining. We also recommend a proprietary complement from the Naples Center for Functional Medicine that features glutamine, an amino acid that’s the predominant fuel and nitrogen source for the gastrointestinal tract’s mucosal lining.

Rebalance: This involves lifestyle decisions, equivalent to increased sleep and exercise and more practical stress management, all of which may affect the gut health.

Healthy gut, healthy life: Remember, gut health isn’t nearly your weight loss program but in actual fact is usually a marker for one’s overall health. And as we grow old, it’s much more vital to actively embrace a healthy gut — and take the mandatory steps to take care of that health, beyond just popping a pill. ¦

Dr. Lina Sakr is a board-certified internal medicine physician at Naples Center for Functional Medicine with nearly 40 years of experience. She makes a speciality of metabolic and dietary medicine, anti-aging medicine and ladies’s health.

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