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image of wheatgrass, a green apple and wheatgrass juice

Wheatgrass is one of the more widely known living foods. Some of the benefits of drinking wheatgrass juice include improved digestion, increased energy, and a more restful night’s sleep.

People are finally starting to consume less unnatural processed foods and move towards healthier lifestyles. One way to do this is to explore the burgeoning availability of living foods and raw foods.

Raw foods are foods heated to less than 115 degrees Fahrenheit and living foods are foods that are in the middle of a growth process like sprouting or fermenting. Those who practice the raw food lifestyle are emphatic about the healing and health benefits of following this regimen.

Enzymes: Topics in favor of raw food living include enzymes. Cooking food destroys 100 percent of this valuable substance. There is an integral relationship between enzymes and digestion. Enzymes are needed to break down large molecules of food into smaller more digestible ones. However, enzymes also help to purify blood, sweep away toxic waste, and deliver nutrients. Raw food enthusiasts claim that by eating enzyme rich food we take some of the pressure off the body to produce enzymes on its own, and the outcome is more energy.

Alkaline: Most Americans eat a very acidic diet, which causes fatigue and increased susceptibility to disease. Alkalizing foods aid in detoxifying and balancing the body. A raw food diet includes green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits, which are alkaline.

Digestion: The benefit of living food and digestion is a hot topic. Raw food proponents suggest that cooked food takes longer to digest and our bodies get stuck with partially digested fat. A healthy colon should eliminate waste between 6-18 hours after a meal, so it stands to reason that raw food which usually completely digests within four hours would aid in maintaining colon health.

If you’re not sure how to start incorporating raw and living food into your diet, you may want to check out some of the classes and workshops available online or in your local area. If you live near Atlanta, the Living Foods Institute is a great place to start. Their two-hour introductory seminar is available for the small price of a 5-10 dollar donation that goes into their scholarship fund. To learn more about the Living Foods Institute, click here.

If you prefer to delve in at your own pace, then you can easily find books and recipes that will get you started. It’s not necessary to totally eliminate cooked food from your diet to achieve health benefits. Just adding 25% more raw foods to your diet can make a world of difference in your digestive and colon health.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

eat-fruits-and-vegetables-for-GI-heatlh

Make sure to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables for well-rounded nourishment.

Pancreatitis is a daily aggravation for many people. The pancreas is a gland responsible for releasing many enzymes necessary for digestion, especially fats and proteins. When its inflamed, these enzymes basically “digest” the gland itself, and it hurts a lot when we eat. How do we manage it on a daily basis? By simply knowing some basic guidelines, you can take considerable measures for dealing with Pancreatitis.

First and foremost, know what you can consume and what you can’t. Most of this may seem like common sense – especially after the meal – but a little awareness goes a long way. Stick to a diet low in fats and simple carbohydrates. The enzymes that the pancreas produces are specific for digesting protein, oils and fats. Simple carbohydrates are foods that quickly metabolize into sugar and tax your pancreas to produce insulin. If you can avoid the refined foods and fried delicacies, you’ll probably be better off. Never eat until you’re full. Eat as often as you like, but eating smaller meals creates a lighter load on your pancreas, making it an all around smoother move for digestion. When the pancreas is inflamed, it might be easier to avoid solid foods altogether.

A colorful variation of fruits and vegetables are essential for well-rounded nourishment. Eat a rainbow every day; a good way to do this is to mix them, blend them, juice them or cook them as a delicious soup.

Avoid overly spicy foods. Unless the spices have anti-inflammatory properties, they could instigate an attack. Also, refrain from consuming any alcohol and tobacco. Both of them, especially combined, can increase the risk of an inflammatory response.

Drink plenty of water. Being sufficiently hydrated at all times can prevent pain since dehydration can actually be the source of inflammation. Carry a bottle of water with you to drink from frequently.

Everybody knows that too much stress is bad, but did you know that stress can provoke an inflammatory response in your pancreas? Indeed. Its another good reason to relax, take time to eat your meals and get plenty of sleep. A lack of these simple things can really stress a person out.

Take advantage of the sunshine. By soaking up more sunlight and the subsequent vitamin D, you can prevent inflammation, depression and even pancreatic cancer. Overall, relief from sunshine will help lower your stress levels, too.

Lastly, incorporate herbs into your diet and drink tea every day. Ginger and turmeric are excellent for their anti-inflammatory qualities, and they can be found in most grocery stores. They can be cooked with food or made into a tea for consistent relief. Some other effective herbs for helping to sooth Pancreatitis are chamomile, peppermint, aloe vera, marshmallow root, licorice and the lesser known chaga fungus. Chaga has been used for thousands of years in Siberia for it’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain relieving agents; chaga could very well become your pancreas’s best friend for this.

Let’s sum this up: Be aware of what and how much you eat, drink plenty of water, enjoy the sunlight, avoid stress, use herbs and cultivate a daily tea habit. Taking these measures may ensure the quality of your life. Often, it is the simpler precautions that make things easier, instead of frequently dealing with the aftermath.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

couple-riding-bikes

Simple acts of support from a partner can really help reduce the stress of someone suffering from Crohn’s Disease or Colitis.

If you love someone who is suffering from Crohn’s Disease or Colitis, you may feel helpless at times, wanting to alleviate the physical symptoms of the disease but feeling that you are powerless to do so. Know this though: Your loving presence and unconditional support can make the difference between a really good day and a really bad day for your loved one with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). You cannot take the pain away, but you can do a myriad of “little” things that will communicate loudly just how much you care.

Sometimes, your spouse or partner might feel sluggish, exhausted from a night of running to the restroom and interrupted sleep. Simple acts like picking up the slack and doing a few extra chores around the house, or even running to the grocery store for him and allowing him to stay home (where the familiar bathroom is only a few feet away to ease his fears), can relieve a lot of emotional and physical pressure. Small sacrifices, for example, forgoing eating a greasy but delicious-looking hamburger in front of him and choosing to eat a healthier meal with him instead, display that you have compassion for what he is going through. Human beings thrive on feeling understood; show him that you understand his struggle and that you are in the fight with him.

A little empathy goes a long way. If you were in pain or experiencing frustration, you would want someone to confide in, right? The same goes for someone suffering with IBD. Having Crohn’s Disease or Colitis can make you feel like a wet blanket, always having to run to the restroom and interrupt the meal or a trip to the mall or day at the beach. IBD can make simple activities that are supposed to be fun extremely stressful for its sufferers. If you make a big deal of it, your loved one might feel guilty or disappointed. Instead, be patient with the situation. Always remember that the interruptions are not your partner’s fault; rather, the disease is what is interrupting your day together.

There will be seasons when your partner feels on top of the world; the IBD is in remission, and she can eat again! Enjoy these wonderful moments, and rejoice with her when she feels happy or excited. Encourage her to keep a positive outlook on life at all times, and make sure not to reject her on hard days when she feels down. Your role in her emotional health, and, yes, even physical health, is critical, and she definitely does not take it for granted.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Yogurt with Berries | Digestion | Gastroenterologist Atlanta

Yogurt is the most widely recognized fermented food on the market today.

Fermentation is a process that humans have used to preserve food for thousands of years. Fermentation occurs when microorganisms transform sugars and carbohydrates into lactic acid. The result is that fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria, good microflora and enzymes. Many of these beneficial bacteria or probiotics will help with digestive health. The beneficial bacteria continue to grow in the body after eating fermented products and can heal the lining of the gut or reduce the permeability of the intestines.

The most widely recognized fermented item on shelves today is yogurt. Yogurt contains a number of bacteria like lactobacillus. These organisms can actually replace naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines. This restores balance to the body and reduces the severity of food intolerances and digestive issues like gas. A similar fermented milk beverage is known as Kefir. Kefir has a large number of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Kefir has a sour taste similar to yogurt.

Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains many helpful bacteria such as lactobacillus, leuconostoc and pediococcus. Additionally, sauerkraut has a large amount of vitamins and nutrients from the cabbage. Eating unpasteurized sauerkraut will help to replace essential bacteria and heal the gut. It also allows the body to digest foods more easily. This increases the effectiveness of the immune system and can fight certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Several fermented Asian foods are incredibly healthy for the body and digestive system. Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans that contain over 100 different types of beneficial bacteria. Miso is often used in soups. Tempeh is a block of fermented soybeans that contains good bacteria as well as antibiotics that kill harmful bacteria. The good bacteria technically start digesting the foods during fermentation. This reduces the amount of work the body must do to extract nutrients. Miso and tempeh both improve digestive health.

Several other fermented products are available. Some include fermented pickles, real sourdough bread made from a starter and even soft cheeses that have been aged. Eating these foods increases the ability of the body to fight harmful organisms in the gut such as parasites and viruses. The foods maintain the critical balance between good and bad bacteria.

Eating fermented foods can help people who have Leaky Gut Syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the lining of the bowels becomes too porous. This allows harmful substances to leave the gut and enter the bloodstream. Fermented foods can prevent or heal some of the inflammation, damage and bacterial imbalances that are thought to cause the syndrome.

Eating foods that are fermented should be a regular part of any healthy diet. The wide variety of foods available today makes it easy to pair fermented products with everyday dishes. This will help to keep colonies of good bacteria active in the gut. The result is better digestion, higher nutrient absorption and fewer health issues. It is best to try to eat one to three servings of foods like yogurt every day.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

fish-oils-help-GI-health

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of Omega oils.

When we think of eating fats, we tend to automatically think they are bad for us because that is often what we have been taught. However, there are good fats too, known as omega oils, that are found in some fish, nuts, plants, and seeds. These “good” fats are not only great for us but they are also essential to our health. The reason they are known as essential fatty acids is because we need them and our body does not produce them on their own.

Fish oil has gotten a lot of publicity over the last three or four years for good reason. The benefits of adding fish oil into your daily diet are numerous, but some of the biggest benefits are:

  • Improves digestive health, now we’re talking!
  • Helps boost brain function; we all could use a boost!
  • Protects the cardiology system
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps reduce inflammation

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of Omega oils but here are a few other foods that are rich in omega-3 fats and could also give your GI health a boost:

  • Flax Seed, ground
  • Walnuts
  • Sardines
  • Grass-fed Beef


It is recommended by The American Heart Association to eat at least two servings of fatty fish a week. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are: salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, herring, lake trout, and mackerel.

If you are not eating fresh fish twice a week, you may want to consider taking fish oil as a supplement to your regular diet. Adding fish oil to your daily diet will add lubrication to the bowels to help keep food moving through the bowels smoothly. The Omega oils also help nourish the cells in the lining of the intestine. This helps to give strength to the intestinal lining which helps prevent harmful toxins from leaking into your bloodstream.

To get the most benefits, there are a few things to look for when purchasing fish oil. Make sure to find a formula that is highly concentrated and clean with high amounts of DHA and EPA. It is important to look for enteric-coated capsules as they help get the essential oils into the intestines and help lessen the fishy aftertaste that is one of the complaints of taking fish oil. If you decide that you would like to add fish oil to your diet, it is best to talk to your doctor first to help determine the proper dosage.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Are You 50 or Over?

For the prevention of colorectal cancer, the US Preventive Services Task Forces (USPSTF) recommends having your 1st colonoscopy at age 50 and then one every 10 years until the age of 75. At 75, your doctor will determine if you need to have additional colonoscopies.

Time to have a colonoscopy

If you are 50 or over – it’s time!

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US with men at a slightly higher risk than women. Having a colonoscopy can be the major tool in not just finding the presence of colorectal cancer but in preventing its occurrence to begin with. This should be the foremost incentive of having the test but is the aging US population actually having the recommended test at the recommended intervals?

Statistics from the Government Accountability Office found that only 25% of all Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 to 75 had undergone the screenings from 2005 to 2009. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute found that only 58.6 percent of men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 got screened in 2010, far short of the national goal of 70.5 percent.

There has been a steady decline in incidents of colorectal cancer over the past two decades. Awareness has definitely increased and part of this trend can be contributed to that.  Many people have opted to have a colonoscopy and decrease their chances of getting the disease. However, the incidence of contracting colorectal disease can increase if people start taking chances and choose not to get screened at suggested times.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Atlanta colonoscopy

Colonoscopy, a simple test can save your life!

Does the thought of a colonoscopy make you want to run and hide? While it’s not the most fun afternoon, there is now actual evidence that a colonoscopy can indeed save lives. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 2,600 patients were tracked for as long as two decades. The results found that the colonoscopy test cut the death rate in half. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?

During the colonoscopy, Dr. Cofrancesco looks for and removes tumors and suspicious precancerous lumps in the intestines. This is same type of procedure that helped save patient’s lives in the New England study. 

This fact finding study should encourage even the most squeamish that the test is well worth it. For more about the study read this New York Times article “A Test in Time’’.

 
 
 
 
© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

A diet with fruits and vegetables can help your GI Tract We put our bodies through a lot of stress sometimes, and most of the time, our body is good at telling us when we’ve put it through the ringer. Our gut is no different. When we don’t eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle in general, our digestive system can get out-of-whack. Here are some quick tips on keeping your GI tract’s balance.

1. Eliminate suspect foods. If you think you have food sensitivities or a food allergy, try an elimination diet. Cut out the most common foods linked to food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy and eggs. Try this for a week or two and monitor any changes in how you feel and if your symptoms go away.

2. Treat possible infections or overgrowth of bad bacteria. Parasites, small bowel bacteria, and yeasts can all inhibit proper gut function. You must treat these infections if you want to heal.

3. Eat whole, unprocessed foods. Going simple gives your system a break from having to digest and figure out what to do with the processed food to feed it. Make sure to include plenty of fiber from foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

4. Replenish your digestive enzymes. When you don’t have a sufficient amount of digestive enzymes, you can’t properly convert the foods you eat into the raw materials necessary to run your body and brain. Take broad-spectrum digestive enzymes with your food to solve the problem.

5. Omega-3 Supplement. Take extra omega-3 supplements, which help cool inflammation in the gut.

6. Rebuild your rain forest of friendly bacteria. Probiotic supplements help you rebuild the healthy bacteria that is vital for your digestive system’s proper functioning.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

The GI tract is vitally important to health at cellular level Your body is a complex machine in which all parts work together, and your GI Tract plays one of the most vital roles in your body’s functioning. It determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. GI health means optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. At GI North, we want your digestive system to work as it’s designed to. Here are some reasons why your gut is so special:

Your GI Tract Protects You

Your entire immune system, as well as your entire body, is protected from the toxic environment in your gut by a lining layer that is only one cell-thick. In fact, if you laid out this lining flat, it would span the area of a tennis court! Amazing, isn’t it? This microscopically thin layer protects the rest of your body from potentially harmful foreign bodies that enter through the digestive system. Damage to this layer can cause allergic reactions to foods you normally eat with no problems. Damage could cause digestion to suffer. You, in turn, get sick and your immune system begins working overtime which produces inflammation throughout your body.

Your GI Tract Is Home To An Army

Your gut contains 500 species and three pounds of bacteria that work together to form a delicate ecosystem in your gut. Your amazing digestive system is basically a chemical factory that helps digest food, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, and produce vitamins and other healing compounds that keep your gut and your body healthy. Your gut breaks down all the food you eat into its individual components, so it can get into your bloodstream and nourish your body and brain. In order for this system to work properly and for you to be healthy, this delicate system must be in balance. An imbalance could be an overabundance of the wrong bacteria, such as yeasts or even parasites. It could also mean the lack of enough good bacteria, like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria.

Your GI Tract is Your Second Brain

While your brain is the true epicenter of your nervous system, your gut’s nervous system comes in second to that. Did you know your gut actually contains more neurotransmitters than your brain? Your GI system has what’s called the “enteric nervous system,” which is a very sophisticated part of your biology that is wired to your brain in very complex ways. Messages constantly travel back and forth between your gut-brain and your head-brain and, when those messages are interfered with in any way, your health will suffer.

Your digestive system is a miraculous part of your body, and is vital to your overall health. Keeping it healthy and in balance is extremely important, and in our next blog, we’ll look at some signs that your gut may have an imbalance.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Limit You Gastroparesis Symptoms with a Healthy DietIn normal digestion, muscular contractions move food through your digestive tract. When you have gastroparesis, the stomach muscles that normally move food are not signaled properly by the vagus nerve, resulting in delayed gastric emptying. Some changes in your diet may be necessary in order to reduce abdominal pain and bloating, feeling full after minimal eating, heartburn, weight loss and lack of appetite; all of which are associated with gastroparesis. Here are some tips on reducing your symptoms:

Eat less, but more often. Up the frequency of your meals, so that you’re having four to six small meals per day. Small, but frequent meals aid the stomach in emptying faster and reduces abdominal bloating and the feeling of fullness.

Watch your fat and fiber intake. Limit high-fat foods because fat takes the longest to empty from your stomach, which can slow the process of other nutrients being digested. Eat less fiber because it can linger in your stomach and ferment, causing a trapped mass.

When it comes to meat, stick to lean protein sources. Lean meat and protein sources minimize the fat that may sit in your stomach and delay digestion. Also, ground or pureed meat digest better. Try healthy dairy options such as low-fat cheese or yogurt, egg whites and tofu.

Go against the grain. While most healthy diets recommend minimizing white breads, pasta, and simple starches, you may want to consider lower-fiber grains and starches. They are easier to digest, and include white bread, white rice or pasta, plain grits, saltines and potatoes. Steer clear of bran, wheat, and high-fiber grains.

With fruits and vegetables, cooking is key. Cook raw vegetables and fruits and blend or juice them. Consider tomato puree, applesauce, bananas, Mushrooms, and strained baby vegetables or fruits.

If you have gastroparesis, talk with your specialist about a specific diet plan.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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