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Picture of Bowls of Healthy Nuts | Gastroenterology AtlantaYou know the feeling. It starts with a vague fullness. It grows and grows, uncomfortably. You may feel, admit it, gassy. You may stifle a burp. Yes, you are bloated. The good news is that we at GI-North Gastroenterology Services can help you prevent these symptoms. One way is through examining your diet. Here are eight foods to watch.

1. Legumes.
It’s true. Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils and peas can cause gassiness because their sugars are difficult to digest. If you don’t want to give them up because you rely on them as a source of protein, try first taking a digestive enzyme supplement to help your system digest the meal.

2. Milk and other dairy products.
Blame the sugar, called lactose. If you are intolerant to it, you may suffer painful digestive symptoms when you consume it. Opt for lactose-free dairy products.

3. Cabbage, broccoli and asparagus.
Again, blame the sugar, which in these green vegetables is called raffinose. It can cause gassiness when it is digested. Before giving up the health benefits of these vegetables, try eating them cooked, which breaks them down a bit so they are easier to digest.

4. Some sugarless gum.
It’s not a food, but it can cause the same bloating if it has a sugar substitute called sorbitol.

5. Apples.
They can cause bloating in people with difficulty processing fruit sugar, called fructose. Try eating half an apple at a time and see if that helps. If not, you may have to give up apples.

6. Processed foods.
This time, it’s the high-sodium content that’s the culprit. It’s found in many convenience foods such as microwaveable meals, soups, sauces and salad dressings. Fresh is best.

7. Soda.
Not a shocker, is it? The carbonation expands in your gastrointestinal tract. Carbonated drinks have no nutritional value, so just skip them.

8. Too much of anything.
Think Thanksgiving dinner syndrome. You pile everything on your plate and go back for seconds, even though you are full. You pay for it later when you feel like the stuffed turkey yourself. Eating too much of anything, even healthy food, at one sitting is likely to bring on bloating and gas, not to mention too many calories, so just don’t do it.

If you’ve tried these basic tips and still suffer from intestinal discomfort, contact GI-North Gastroenterology Services. We will assess your symptoms to see if you have an underlying health condition and will get you on track to feeling better. Call us at 404-446-0600 or fill out our convenient online appointment form, by clicking here.

© 2014 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Flaxseeds with Scoop | Gastroenterologist Atlanta

Flax seeds are an excellent source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.

If you are looking for a simple way to improve your digestion, then you should consider adding flaxseeds to your diet. Flax seeds come from the flax plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region. Below are some of the ways that flaxseeds can benefit your digestion:

Excellent Source Of Fiber

Flaxseed is very high in fiber. That is why it is often recommended to people who suffer from constipation. In many cases, constipation is caused or worsened by a lack of fiber in the diet. One tablespoon of flaxseeds contains 2.8 grams of fiber. Fiber helps soften your stool, which makes it easier for you to pass. It also helps increase the bulk of your stool.

Rich In Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Most people are aware of the fact that omega 3 fatty acids can help improve heart health. However, the digestive health benefits are less known. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of many intestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Many people who come to GI North suffer from those problems.

Alleviate Bloating And Flatulence

Bloating and flatulence are very common and embarrassing symptoms that can sometimes be an indication of a digestive problem. A diet that is high in processed foods can worsen these symptoms by clogging up the digestive system. On the other hand, flaxseeds can help alleviate flatulence and bloating by softening the stool.

Could Reduce The Risk Of Colon Cancer

It is estimated that 102,480 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. It is the third most common cancer in the United States. Even though the number of people dying with colon cancer is on the decline, it still causes over 50,000 deaths per year. One of the things that can be done to reduce the risk of colon cancer is to follow a diet that is high in fiber. Because flax seeds are high in fiber, they can potentially protect against colon cancer.

Flax seeds can help improve your digestion as well as your overall health by alleviating constipation, bloating and flatulence. It is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids and can help alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory digestive disorders. Furthermore, flaxseeds can protect against colon cancer. If you want to get help with digestive issues, then you should contact GI North.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Various Foods that Help Prevent Colon Polyps | Gastroenterologist Atlanta

Food such as milk, yogurt, almonds, cheeses, broccoli, salmon, and avocado provide good sources of calcium.

While there are many different debilitating conditions that an individual might have to grapple with in life, colon polyps can be a uniquely challenging disease to handle. Yet by learning more about the condition and how dietary changes can ease the symptoms of the disease, you and your loved ones can continue living a productive and positive life. Here is some basic information you should know:

Polyps – A Brief Overview

Colon polyps (also referred to as colorectal polyps) are fleshy growths that occur on the lining of the rectum or colon. If they are left untreated, these polyps can evolve into colorectal cancer. Generally, colorectal polyps are classified in terms of their behavior (such as whether they are malignant or benign). Polyps can be benign (hyperplastic polyp), pre-malignant (tubular adenoma), or malignant (colorectal adenocarcinoma). They can also be classified in terms of etiology (such as whether they result from a condition such as inflammatory bowel disease).

How Diet Can Improve Your Polyp Condition

Although grappling with polyps can be a difficult thing to do, making changes to your lifestyle can decrease one’s symptoms and susceptibility to the condition. While there are many lifestyle changes you can make when dealing with colorectal polyps, changing your diet can be one of the most effective shifts. Here are some dietary improvements that can be made:

1. Get Your Calcium.

If you want to protect yourself from getting polyps or experiencing another bout with the condition, be sure to get enough calcium. Some of the great sources of calcium available include low-fat or skim milk, kale, broccoli, and canned salmon that has its bones. It also appears that adequate consumption of vitamin D can reduce one’s susceptibility to colorectal cancer given that the vitamin aids in calcium absorption. There are a wide variety of sources from which vitamin D can be obtained, such as liver, fish, egg yolks, and milk products. Vitamin D can also be obtained through exposure to the sun. If you find that you’re not drinking adequate amounts of milk or obtaining your calcium and vitamin D from other sources, consider supplementation.

2. Eat Fruits And Vegetables.

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is important because these foods are rich in fiber. When you consume foods that are high in fiber, you can decrease your susceptibility to polyp development. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants that can aid in cancer prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, people should consume a minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.


At GI North, we recognize that having polyps can have an adverse effect on your personal and professional life. That’s why we’re here to help. By providing you with information regarding colon polyps and scheduling a colonoscopy for you, Dr. Cofrancesco at GI North can help you attain and maintain great health despite any physical challenges you experience.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Hiatal Hernia Diagram | Gastroenterologist AtlantaA hiatal hernia, also called a hiatus hernia, can be a difficult problem to live with. This condition occurs when the top portion of the stomach, the fundus, protrudes up through the hiatus, or the opening in the diaphragm. There are two main variations of hiatal hernia. One is the sliding type where the stomach tends to move up and down through the hiatus regularly. The second is the paraesophageal type. This occurs when the stomach slides up through the hiatus and twists or otherwise obstructs the esophagus. Even if these conditions aren’t causing any issues at the moment, over time, they can develop into more serious situations.

Pain and Discomfort

A hiatus hernia has the potential to cause considerable distress for its sufferers. Due to the unnatural position and location of the stomach, people with the condition may experience pain in their chest or abdomen, particularly when slouching, bending, lifting, lying down or inhaling deeply. It may also prove difficult to eat a full meal in one sitting, simply because available stomach space has been reduced. Unfortunately, this pain can easily be confused with the classic heart attack symptom, prompting many people to panic. If you experience this pain regularly and wish to identify the cause, consider making an appointment at GI North.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is another common symptom of a hiatus hernia. Due to the dislocation of the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is unable to close properly. The LES serves as the gate through which eaten food passes into the stomach, and it normally closes afterward to prevent the stomach content from going back up. However, with a hiatus hernia, this function is impaired.

Sleep Apnea

In some cases, a hiatus hernia can also cause sleep apnea. This can happen in two ways. In one, the stomach may protrude through the hiatus enough that normal sleeping respiration is hindered and disrupted. The other is when stomach acid from a malfunctioning LES causes results in inhalation of the caustic vapors, which can also disrupt normal breathing patterns. Sleep apnea is a very serious problem that is important to address. If you suffer from sleep apnea and sleep studies have failed to provide you with answers, a visit to GI North may reveal whether a hiatus hernia is involved.


If the condition becomes serious enough, or if it is aggravated, it could result in a complication known as strangulation. This happens if the stomach twists or becomes stuck in the hiatus, which may cut off the blood supply to the stomach. This is a potentially life-threatening problem that requires emergency surgery to fix.

A hiatal hernia is often a challenging condition to live with, and it can severely disrupt your everyday life. If it has been causing problems for you, you should know that it’s not something you have to endure.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Man Holding Stomach | Gastroenterologist AtlantaBarrett’s Esophagus is a medical condition that is a direct result of a GERD. The term GERD is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is caused by stomach acid that ends up in the esophagus due to heartburn and excessive acid indigestion.

Causes of Barrett’s Esophagus

The disorder of Barrett’s Esophagus can be described as serious alterations in the lining of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid refluxing and scarring the esophageal tissue. Due to this scarring effect on the tissue, the esophagus no longer stretches and conforms in shape when food or liquid is ingested.

One of the main problems facing patients with Barrett’s Esophagus is the loss of elasticity to the esophagus tissue. Swallowing may become difficult due to this condition. Patients who develop this disease are also at a greater risk of developing esophageal cancer due to the harmful changes in the lining of the esophagus.


Patients may experience no direct symptoms of this disorder, yet may have been troubled with symptoms of heartburn and severe acid reflux for years prior to the onset of Barrett’s Esophagus. Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing may also occur with this condition.

Other potential symptoms that may be experienced include sore throat, hoarseness of the voice, and possibly adult-onset asthma. All of these symptoms have been found to be related to the diagnosis of Barrett’s Esophagus.

Treatment Options

The main goal of medical practitioners who treat patients with Barrett’s Esophagus is to stop any further damage to the tissue and lining of the esophagus. This would include medication therapy with prescription or non-prescription antacids, acid reducers, or proton pump inhibitors. These medications are commonly used to treat regular heartburn and GERD and typically have few side effects.

Other methods of treatment include changes in diet, weight loss, and elevating sleep position to avoid reflux at bedtime.

Surgical Treatment

Barrett’s esophagus may require surgery to stretch the esophagus when it has progressed to a point where swallowing becomes difficult. Doctors may also opt for surgery to tighten the upper stomach’s sphincter to stop excessive acid from reaching the esophagus.

Additional Information

For patients who would like to learn more about this disorder, detailed information can be found at GI North gastroenterology services or by clicking here. GI North offers medical services related to Barrett’s Esophagus and other gastrointestinal disorders.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Chia Seeds Arranged to Spell Chia | Gastroenterologist AtlantaChia seeds are one of the super foods that naturally work on improving digestion in your body. Many of its healing benefits are not known and are sometimes overlooked by digestive sufferers. These are five ways chia seeds helps your digestive tract get healthy again.

Add Fiber Without Adding Bulk

Increasing fiber prevents some digestive disorders, but it aggravates others. Chia seeds don’t bulk and dry in your stomach like other forms of fiber. If you are warding off a digestive disorder and have to avoid bran, wheat or psyllium husks, chia seeds can help you get the benefits of eating fiber without feeling the side effects of a clogged gut.

Reduces Inflammation While Improving Digestion

Chia helps digestive sufferers of disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis or gluten sensitivity. Ordinarily, you have to worry about inflammation and swelling in your stomach affecting your entire day. However, adding chia seeds to your diet reduces inflammation and soothes the stomach lining. It makes it easier for your body to digest healthy foods from a balanced diet.

Get the Same Benefits, as Fish Oil Without the Smell

This super food is high in Omega-3 fats. You get more Omega-3 from chia seeds than salmon, but it doesn’t have that fishy taste, unless that’s what you want it. Chia seeds do not have a flavor and take on the taste of the food it’s eaten with. You get all the GI health benefits of fish oil, without the fishy smell.

Heal the Stomach Lining with Chia Seeds

When mixed with water, chia forms a slippery gel similar to applesauce. Inside your body it coats the lining of your stomach and allows the villi to absorb the many antioxidants chia seeds contain. Chia is high in vitamin C, calcium and iron and several times better than blueberries for fighting free radicals.

Helps Control Your Weight

Chia seeds help you feel full even when you are eating smaller meals. Chia seeds are high in nutrients, like magnesium and boron and are high in trace minerals. You have fewer cravings to foods like chocolate or potato chips just by adding the seeds to your diet.

Another benefit of Chia Seeds is increased energy. People who simply add a sprinkle of the seeds to their morning meal have seen a noticeable difference in their energy levels. These are a few of the little-known ways chia seeds work on improving digestion naturally.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of healthy holiday meal on plateThe key to good health during the holidays is to remember that the season does not last forever. If you’re not careful, then you’ll find yourself holding onto a few extra pounds by the start of a new year. However, making a few minor adjustments to your holiday routine will keep you in tiptop shape.


An easy way to keep your diet on track is to use healthy substitutions in place of regular ingredients.

  • Substituting olive oil in place of butter will eliminate cholesterol and add good fats to a dish. In addition, using it to baked goods and dinner items will help with nutrient absorption in the intestines.
  • By incorporating herbs and spices in holiday food, you can reduce the sodium content. These ingredients will enhance the natural flavors of a dish, reduce inflammation and alleviate gas.
  • Replacing white flour with whole grain flour is a simple way to bring fiber and other nutrients into your holiday meals. Using it will keep you full and help stabilize your blood sugar level.
  • Many holiday recipes call for the use of high-fat creams. However, you can still get the same great taste by using a low-fat alternative. Ingredients such as yogurt and half-and-half will reduce the fat content without removing the protein.
  • Dishes that require copious amounts of sugar can be made healthier with the help of honey. Unlike sugar, it is unprocessed and still contains most of its natural nutrients. Honey is also lower on the glycemic index and will help maintain blood sugar levels.


The cold weather of the holiday season has many people headed towards their fireplaces instead of the gym. However, exercising during the holidays is not as difficult as it may seem.

  • A simple way to burn a few extra calories is to go shopping. While online shopping is extremely convenient, shopping at the mall can burn the average shopper an extra 1,500 calories over the course of a month.
  • Get into the spirit of fitness by incorporating games and relays during holiday parties. Games that involve running, jumping and passing will improve blood circulation and keep the digestive tract running smoothly.
  • Sitting around telling stories with family will undoubtedly give you a great workout. A good belly laugh reduces the stress hormone that increases belly fat. Likewise, laughter will help the digestive system with absorption.


A good night’s rest is often overlooked during the holiday season. However, it is essential for the body to perform at an optimal level. Those buttery, sugary treats will quickly add up and wreak havoc on the average digestive system. Getting enough sleep each night will give your digestive system the necessary time to rest and recuperate from the damage. It will also reduce your body’s cravings for excessive sugar and caffeine.

It is possible to make it through the holiday season without having to choose between good fun and good health. With a few simple adjustments, you can have the best of both worlds.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image of esophageal varicesIf you’re having problems bleeding from your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, there might be several different reasons. Some people may have bleeding from hemorrhoids, and other people may be bleeding from the upper GI tract. This type of bleeding can be fatal if left untreated. Emergency treatment should be sought immediately if there is bleeding from this region. Here are some other tips and information you may need to know about gastrointestinal tract bleeding from GI North.

1. GI Tract Bleeding is Not a Disease

The bleeding from the GI tract is a symptom of a disease. Some of these conditions can be cured, and others cannot be cured, but all conditions should be addressed by a physician to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan.

2. Diagnosis Will Depend on Where in the GI Tract the Bleeding Originates

The GI tract consists of the esophagus, the small intestine, the stomach, the rectum, the anus, and the large intestine or colon. For instance, the most common cause of bleeding in the esophagus occurs when it becomes inflamed due to stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. Bleeding may also occur from the varices, which are the enlarged veins located near the lower end of the esophagus. A tear in the esophagus may also lead to bleeding after prolonged vomiting.

Ulcers in the stomach may also cause bleeding if they erode a blood vessel. Other common causes of bleeding may be gastritis, cancer, and a duodenal ulcer in the small intestine. Hemorrhoids may cause bleeding in the lower digestive tract. This happens when the veins become enlarged in the anal area. When they rupture and bleed, it’s time to visit a physician. Diagnostics may include an upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, anoscopy, biopsies, and barium X-rays.

3. Be Aware of Symptoms of GI Tract Bleeding

Symptoms of GI tract bleeding usually fall into two categories: acute or chronic. Acute bleeding is brief and usually severe. Chronic bleeding occurs over a long duration of time.

Some of the most common symptoms include dark clots or material in vomit that resembles coffee grounds. A person’s stool may also be black or tar-like in appearance. Some people may also experience: weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, cramping or abdominal pain, reduced urine flow, diarrhea, faintness, confusion, sleepiness, lethargy, faintness, or chest pains.

What to Do About Bleeding in the Intestinal Tract

Talk to Dr. Cofrancesco and he will devise a plan to minimize the symptoms and stop the bleeding. When your symptoms subside, you’ll be able to continue with daily activities as usual. Contact GI North for more information.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image of man having a dose of heartburn after a mealGastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, involves chronic symptoms including heartburn, dry cough, regurgitation and problems swallowing. Although GERD is often a lifelong condition, it is sometimes possible to reduce symptoms by avoiding certain foods and making lifestyle changes. If these measures fail to control GERD symptoms, patients can visit Dr. Cofrancesco at GI North to find out whether they are eligible for surgery to correct the condition. Here’s a deeper look at GERD, its symptoms and complications, lifestyle changes that can improve it and the surgery used to fix it.

GERD Explained
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD is the name given to chronic symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, which is experienced occasionally by many people. GERD involves reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus due to opening of a dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter. Acid may travel only to the lower esophagus, causing heartburn, but it can also reach the upper esophagus, where it may enter the mouth, causing dental erosion and bad breath, or it can be inhaled into the lungs, resulting in breathing problems. Over time, chronic acid reflux can cause ulceration of the esophagus, spur the development of Barrett’s Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition, and cause esophageal cancer. Tobacco use, obesity, and pregnancy can all cause GERD, and certain foods can worsen it. Due to the risk of long-term complications, patients with GERD should seek medical supervision to watch for progression of the disease and start treatment early if cancer develops.

Living with GERD
Making key lifestyle changes and avoiding certain foods may improve GERD symptoms for some patients. Some of the foods that commonly worsen GERD are spicy foods, nightshade vegetables, garlic, mint and chocolate. Usage of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and result in acid reflux. Patients should allow several hours for digestion of food before going to bed, and some may benefit from raising the head of their bed several inches. Wearing tight clothing and eating large meals should both be avoided. Many patients benefit from over-the-counter medications for GERD, including calcium carbonate antacids, such as Tums, proton-pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec, foaming agents, such as Gaviscon, and prokinetics, such as Reglan.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease GERD Treatment at GI North
Patients with severe GERD symptoms should consider treatment at GI North. Our clinic offers fundoplication, a procedure that can relieve patients from having to suffer with GERD for a lifetime. Nissen fundoplication, the specific type of this procedure normally used to fix GERD, involves wrapping the top of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent acid and stomach contents from refluxing into the esophagus. In many cases, this can be accomplished with a laparoscope through a very small incision. Recovery takes only one to three days in the hospital and two to three weeks out of work.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of freshly harvested black salsify

Freshly harvested black salsify.

For centuries, the human race has searched for a magic pill to preserve health and youth. While this pill has yet to be discovered, modern research increasingly uncovers the benefits of super foods. The future of fighting disease is bright when humans harness the exponential power of natural plants from around the world. Here are a few of the less familiar super foods with concentrated nutrition:

This Japanese fruit looks much like a lemon but contains more Vitamin C. Limonene within the peel fights inflammation, a major player in heart disease and digestive difficulties.

Rye Berries
While many gluten-containing grains promote inflammation, these berries actually reduce it and regulate insulin in the blood. Rye berries package 12 vitamins and amino acids, as well as muscle-building protein. They hail from Southeast Asia originally.

Matcha Green Tea Powder
This green powder often brewed into a tea not only reduces stress and cholesterol but also gives the metabolism a boost. Monks brought the concept of green tea powder from China to Japan to be used ceremoniously.

Growing in the western United States, these fruits look like miniature tomatoes. They taste sweeter than the common tomato and pack a powerful punch to disease with their vitamin A and C content.

Containing a natural insulin to bolster the pancreas, this root vegetable tastes best cooked. Besides our own United States, it grows in countries such as the Netherlands and New Zealand as well as on the continent of Australia.

Leaves from this tree, which grew originally in Africa and Asia, contain 46 antioxidants. Some of its miracle properties include fighting diabetes by lowering glucose in the blood and heart disease by lowering lipids.

Ripe Mangosteens from Indonesia

Ripe Mangosteens from Indonesia.

This fruit from Indonesia treats gastrointestinal illnesses and skin conditions. As a powerful antioxidant, it may be an effective treatment for cancer in the future.

Common to yellow mustard and Indian curry, this spice slows and prevents the growth of tumors. Its primary ingredient is curcumin, a key player in fighting inflammation.

Green Coffee Beans
Chlorogenic acid found in unroasted coffee beans promotes weight management. Extracts from these beans also fight inflammation and disease.

This fermented soy product is common in Japan. Natto prevents blood clot formation, stroke and heart attacks and maintains bone density.

If Americans begin to draw from the wealth of nature from across the globe, they may well begin to heal themselves from the inside out. Years of processed foods and additives have weakened the health of many across the nation. It is time to reach out to the orchards and fields of other countries and allow their super foods to build the health and longevity to which we have long aspired.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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