Are you always looking for the nearest bathroom? Or does excessive gas keep you from leaving your home and enjoying life? If you have been suffering with constipation or diarrhea, gas or bloating, or any combination deferred to as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), then a Digestive Investigation with Restoration is for you.
A comprehensive digestive evaluation is required to understand what the underlying cause and dis-ease of your gut is and how to heal it accordingly. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not a diagnosis – it is simply a catch-all term for the symptoms listed above without any good solutions. We use functional laboratory testing to determine what is causing your symptoms and then treat the real issue so you can become confident and regular once again.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal syndrome characterized by abdominal pain, bloating and gas with associated diarrhea or constipation or both. Irritable bowel syndrome is usually confirmed once other gut disorders have been ruled out. The major rule outs include Inflammatory Bowel Disease, (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, as well as Celiac Disease.
The most powerful thing we can do for you if you have IBS is to identify the actual underlying cause.
The most common underlying causes of IBS:
- Food sensitivities/allergies
- Intestinal Permeability or “Leaky Gut”
- Yeast overgrowth (Candida overgrowth)
- Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Dysbiosis (Large Intestine)
The common laboratory tests that we may consider for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include:
- Food Sensitivity (IgG) and Food Allergy (IgE) testing
- Lactose Intolerance Testing & Celiac Antibody testing
- Comprehensive Stool Analysis and Parasitology X 3 (especially with travel history)
- SIBO Breath Test
Food Sensitivities & Food Allergies
Ig G Food Sensitivity
Ig G Food Sensitivity (or food intolerance) is a type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction in the immune system that can occur a few hour and up 72 hours after ingestion of the reactive food. This window of time makes it difficult to link one’s symptom to the food eaten a day or two prior. Such hidden allergies are often the cause of many chronic symptoms. The immune response to delayed food reactions are often caused by antibodies other than Ig E. They are mediated by immunoglobulins: Ig G, Ig A, Ig M and Ig D. The Ig G antibody is the largest circulating antibody in our immune system (about 80-85% of our white blood cells) and can cross the placenta from mother to child. Ig G antibodies are the most common form of immunologic-mediated food responses. These antibodies combine with the food particles in the blood to form “immune complexes” which cause inflammatory reactions in tissues. Such inflammatory reactions can occur in any part of the body, thus producing many kinds of symptoms such as headache, eczema, joint pain, mental disorders, etc.
Ig E Food Allergy
Ig E Food Allergy is an Immediate Food Reaction that most people are familiar with. As the name implies, this food reaction can occur within minutes or up to 3 hours after ingestion. Peanuts that cause anaphylaxis in a child is an Ig E food allergy .The reaction is caused by the presence of a high Ig E antibody levels in the blood, which sets off an immediate allergic response. Ig E antibodies make up only a small percentage of our immune system (about 5-10% of our white blood cells), but exert the most severe and life threatening reactions. Symptoms can include rashes or full body hives after eating an apple, immediate vomiting or diarrhea from milk, or an intense headache after drinking wine. These reactions can be tested for by either an allergist or a naturopathic doctor.
Symptoms of food sensitivities may include:
- Chronic constipation
- Heartburn or Indigestion
- Boating and gas
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Eczema or Itchy skin
- Migraines or headaches
- Immediate fatigue after a meal
- Increased heart rate
- Joint pain
- Respiratory problems
Common Signs, Symptoms or concerns patients present with in our office include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal Gas or Bloating
- Acid Reflux or Heart Burn
- Brain fog, poor memory, reduced concentration, poor focus
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Excessive Burping or Flatulence
- Food allergies or food intolerances.
- Skin problems: acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis & other rashes or itching
- Anxiety and Depression or other mood disorders
- Headaches or Migraines
- Yeast Overgrowth
- Difficulty losing weight, despite a balanced diet and exercise
- Lack of Appetite or Lethargy after eating
- Environmental Allergies (grass, pollen, etc.) or Asthma
- Hormonal Imbalances (painful heavy menses, PMS, PCOS, etc.)
- Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease, Hashimoto’s Hypothyroid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, MS, psoriasis and others
- Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia
If you have any of the ailments to the left, your digestive tract is need of some medical attention and would benefit from a comprehensive digestive evaluation.
Good digestive health is critical for optimal immune function and so dysbiosis or imbalance of bacteria in our GI tracts can lead to autoimmunity. A healthy gut is critical for all organ systems in the body as everything is intimately connected. The nervous system (which uses out GI tract as a “second brain,” the endocrine system with all its hormonal interplays, ones metabolism and overall immunity.
Restore your digestive function today so you can have more energy, lose weight, and return to optimal health!
Two ways to identify food sensitivities
Food Sensitivity & Allergy Testing
The most common way I identify food sensitivities and food allergies in my practice is via a blood draw. Your sample is shipped to a specialized lab to assess for Ig G reactions via ELISA testing. This is a highly sensitive test and comes with a recommendation booklet, shopping list and resources.
The benefit of a food sensitivity panel is that it provides a clear outline of food sensitivities as well as the severity of the sensitivity. In addition, yeast antibodies for Candida can easily be added to this panel if you suspect a yeast overgrowth.
The major disadvantage for most people is cost for testing, in addition to requiring a liberal and unrestricted diet for a few weeks prior to your blood draw (not ideal if want to confirm an actual Ig E allergy to a food). Also, this test will not be accurate if you are regularly taking anti-histamine medications (Benadryl, Claritin) or immunosuppressants such as prednisone.
The elimination diet is akin to the 28-day detoxification diet. They really accomplish the same thing. The removal of the most common inflammatory foods allows for a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in health such as good liver function, glowing skin, improved energy and sleep, and more. Foods are then re-introduced one at a time, usually every 4 days and in their simplest form first, and if symptoms re-occur, then a food sensitivity is suspected, noted and avoided.
The most common food sensitivities I see in my practice include: dairy, gluten, eggs, tree nuts, soy and corn. The elimination diet is the most cost-effective way to identify food sensitivities but does require patients to be self-aware of their reactions and follow a strict diet. We provide you with a shopping list and avoidance list, clean recipe resources and additional protein supplementation to ease the burden of food preparation.
Natural Digestive Restoration and the 5R’s
There are 5 primary goals of the 5R Program for Digestive Restoration:
- Address dietary and lifestyle changes via testing, education & targeted dietary choices
- Normalize digestion and absorption.
- Normalize the balance of gastrointestinal bacteria.
- Promote a balanced system of detoxification.
- Promote gastrointestinal healing
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO is the leading cause of digestive symptoms including IBS, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and reflux/heartburn. We are composed of an infinite number of bacteria from the surface of our skin to the deepest crypts of our digestive tract. When in balance, bacteria is most beneficial to our health and well-being. However, when bacteria in the small intestine becomes overgrown, they can migrate up from the large intestine, and into the small intestine, lending to the name – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This causes inflammation in the gut and intestinal permeability, impaired absorption of nutrients, iron deficiency anemia and specific reactions to normally healthy foods.
Common Symptoms of SIBO (in any combination)
- Gas & Bloating
- Abdominal cramps and pains
- Food allergies and intolerance
- Nutrient malabsorption
- Mineral deficiencies, specifically B12
- Autoimmune diseases
- Undigested food in the toilet
- Skin rashes, hives, eczema, rosacea
- Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS or IBD)
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Breath Test
This test is used to determine if bacterial overgrowth – via the presence of methane or hydrogen gas – is the cause of your health concerns. A positive SIBO result can present in one of three ways:
- Positive hydrogen gas from hydrogen-producing bacteria (elicits more diarrhea)
- Positive methane gas from methane-producing bacteria (causes more constipation)
- Positive for both hydrogen and methane gas (mimicks IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea)
Dysbiosis affects the large intestine when the natural microbiome is disturbed. Dysbiosis typically occurs following a course of antibiotic treatment or from an infection that has gone untreated. After antibiotics, the offending bacteria have all been killed off and the levels of healthy bacteria have also been reduced – this predisposes a person to a secondary infection from other pathogenic bacteria or yeast. The result can be bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea.
A Comprehensive Stool Analysis and parasitology can be used to determine the overall digestive capacity of the gut. This stool analysis screens for adequate levels and strains of favourable bacteria, pathogenic bacteria, yeast overgrowth and common parasites. It also provides information on macronutrient digestion for starches, fats and proteins, checks for inflammation markers, butyrate levels, and can differentiate serious conditions of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease from IBS. This test provides a wealth of information and can identify serious infections, malabsorption issues, and other causes of gastrointestinal discomfort that have not been previously screened for.
A full 5R Program takes approximately three to six months to complete. It is very important that you are prepared to implement the somewhat demanding dietary changes of the program, as without the dietary component you can not achieve anywhere near the maximum therapeutic benefit.
We help patients restore digestive function and heal their tummies through the 5R program effectively for many health concerns. Often patients will experience such an improvement in symptoms that medications are no longer required and chronic symptoms may resolve entirely.
We remove any stressors and eliminate agents that negatively affect your GI tract including parasites, Candida, SIBO, insufficiency dysbiosis, or other bacterial overgrowths. We often test for food allergies, food sensitivities, and gluten sensitivity via a blood test for IgG and IGE antibodies. When required, we will address treatment-resistant infections due to biofilm formation, which may underlie chronic digestive issues using advanced therapies such as IV nutrients, and potent anti-microbial botanicals and antioxidants.
We add back digestive aids that may be deficient like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, or bile acids, which are needed from proper digestion. Over time, we will the body return to its own production of these missing agents.
We Help beneficial bacteria flourish by taking in probiotic foods or supplements that contain “good” bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, as well as by consuming the high soluble fibre foods that good bugs like to eat, called “prebiotics.”
The lining of your GI tract has likely been weakened or damaged due to infection, inflammation or otherwise, causing a condition called intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Leaky gut creates a confused immune system and takes time to repair. Supplying key nutrients such as Vitamin A, Zinc, Quercetin and the Amino Acid Glutamine allows the cells in our digestive tract to repair and rebuild their integrity.
Becoming present and in the moment once again. Our rest, sleep, exercise, stress levels, and eating habits all impact our digestive function. They all play a part on our parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our digestive capacity and overall digestive health.