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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.

Even Oral colong cleaning techniques that use fiber, herbs, and laxatives can be dangerous if overused The answer is yes and no. Some medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy, may require a cleansing beforehand. That’s between you and your doctor. However, having your colon flushed out as a way to detox the body isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Read more before jumping on the colon cleansing bandwagon.

Want to know the truth?

Your digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria. Thus, negating the need to use other methods to detoxify the body.

Just for argument’s sake though, let’s at least examine common arguments used by proponents of colon cleansing.. Those in favor of colon cleansing tout the method as a way to treat a number of problems, ranging from arthritis to asthma, that they say are caused by toxins in the gastrointestinal tract. These folks also promote colonics or a colonic irrigation as a way to encourage healthy intestinal bacteria growth. They also claim that it strengthens your immune system, and boosts energy levels. Frankly though, the jury’s still out on whether or not any of these claims ring true.

On top of that, colonics can increase your risk of dehydration, increase the risk of infection after the procedure, cause electrolyte imbalances, and bowel perforations.

To sum things up, here are two things to remember:

First, your body is amazingly efficient. Your GI tract is naturally equipped to detoxify and rid your body of waste and toxins. Additional detox methods are usually not needed.Second, talk with Dr. Cofrancesco before undergoing any type of colonic.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Common Problem #2: Gallstones

A diet high in fiber can help prevent gallstones Nearly 1 million Americans are diagnosed with gallstones, but only a quarter of those require treatment for them. Treatment to rid the body of gallstones typically means removal of the gallbladder, one of the most common U.S. surgeries.

Removal may be necessary if the stones cause inflammation or infection of the gallbladder, pancreas, or liver. This happens if a stone moving out of the gallbladder gets stuck and blocks the flow of bile in the ducts between the liver and the small intestine.

The pain of a gallstone lodged in a duct has a fairly quick onset. Pain starts usually in the right upper abdomen, between the shoulder blades, or under the right shoulder. Fever, vomiting, nausea, or pain can last more than five hours, and thus a trip to the ER is necessary.

Gallbladder removal can be performed laparoscopically and more recently has been done without an external incision by going through the mouth or vagina.

Make sure you maintain a healthy weight, and a lower-fat and high-fiber diet. Also, talk with Dr. Cofrancesco at GI North in Cumming, GA about risk factors.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Common Condition #1: Acid Reflux

Pills While it may be terribly poor judgement to bring up your bowel problems with others, the truth is that not talking about our woes can lead to suffering from digestive issues for much longer than we should have to. Doctors say digestive disorders are causing an unprecedented number of clinic visits and hospitalizations.

Don’t rush to the ER just yet.

Symptoms of reflux, such as heartburn, are among the most common digestive ills. Frequent heartburn symptoms may indicate a person has GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux. Not only is the hot or burning feeling rising up from the center of the abdomen area and into the chest painful, but the acid that causes the pain can harm the esophagus over time and possibly lead to esophageal cancer.

It may be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth, or hypersalivation, or even finding food or fluid in your mouth, particularly at night. Pregnancy, some medications, and consuming alcohol or certain foods can cause heartburn. Kids under age 12 and some adults may have GERD without heartburn, instead experiencing asthma-like symptoms, trouble swallowing, or a dry cough.

Treatment options include drugs that reduce acid levels, such as the proton pump inhibitors Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix and the H2 blockers Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac. Check with Dr. Confrancesco on what medication might work.

In severe cases of GERD, surgeons can tighten a loose muscle between the stomach and esophagus to inhibit the upward flow of acid. Laparoscopic surgery, which involves small incisions, has been found to lessen scarring and shorten recovery time compared with open procedures.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Genes British scientists at the University College of London have devised a new method for identifying and mapping gene locations for complex inherited diseases, including Crohn’s Disease. In a recent study, these scientists at UCL have been able to identify a large number of gene locations for Crohn’s Disease. Get this: There are more than 200, more than any other disease, putting Crohn’s disease at the top of the list.

Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It’s chronic and approximately 100 to 150 people per 100,000 suffer from the disease. Understanding the genetic component of such a complex diseases is central to potentially explaining patients’ symptoms and improving treatment.

To learn more about Crohn’s disease and symptoms, click here to visit our Crohn’s Disease page.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Gas Pain We all have it. It’s a part of the biological process of digestion. However, tell that to someone you’re on a date with. Before you get stuck in a stinky situation, try changing some of your eating habits in order to curb the flatulence problem.

1. Eat balanced meals

Try giving your stomach a break from overloading it with one type of food. A plate loaded down with veggies may be healthy, but it’s also healthy to add some protein and fat as well. Cabbage and broccoli may be good for you, but if they are causing gas problems, try reducing the amount you eat.

2. Take little bites

Taking smaller bites can help ensure that your food is being properly digested by the time it reaches your large intestine. Smaller bites also lead to slower eating time. The longer it takes you to eat, the quicker you’ll feel full and not overeat; and overeating can lead to poor digestion.

3. Eat until satisfied, not stuffed

Overloading your stomach will eventually overload your gut. An overloaded gut means poor digestion.

4. Chew thoroughly

When food reaches your intestine that has been partially digested, the bacteria in your gut causes the food to ferment, producing a substantial amount of stinky gas. More chewing helps your stomach acids do their job more effectively and can dramatically reduce the bacterial gas that gets formed. Chewing is even more important when you’re eating vegetables and high-fiber foods, because they are more difficult to breakdown in your mouth and stomach than processed foods.

5. Try probiotics

Bacteria produces the majority of gas in your intestines, but adding probiotic foods to your diet can help support the growth of helpful bacteria that can ease digestion and reduce gas. There are several strains of probiotic bacteria, and research suggests that different strains work better for different people. Talk with your Dr. Cofrancesco at GI North for recommended types. Excess gas can be reduced with time and some tweaking, but always remember that it doesn’t hurt to consult with Dr. Cofrancesco if you feel your gas and digestive system have become more sensitive than normal.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Constipation Hard stools are no walk in the park, but a walk in the park could be just the trick.

If regular bowel movements are hard to come by these days, moving your body a little more may do the trick. Experts now say that exercise does more than just keep your heart and body strong. Exercise is vital in helping with bowel regularity. As if you needed one more reason to exercise…

How Can Exercise Help Constipation?

Constipation can be the result of a number of things such as insufficient water intake, sedentary lifestyle (an 8-hour day at a desk followed by a two-hour night in front of the television), diet, or other medical conditions. Chronic constipation means that something is hindering your digestive system from passing waste easily and efficiently.

In comes exercise. Exercise helps constipation by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine: the faster it moves through, the less amount of time your body has to absorb water from the stool. This makes the stool more moist less likely to get, well…stuck. In addition, aerobic exercise quickens your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles that push the stools through.

The Best Exercises for Constipation

Here’s your tip: Just move. Even walking daily can help the body and digestive system function optimally. Aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, swimming, or swing dancing, are fantastic as well, but should be eased into if you aren’t already working out regularly. All these exercises can help keep your digestive tract healthy. Make sure you wait at least an hour after a meal to exercise however.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Turkey Thanksgiving is here, which means plates full of turkey and dressing as well as endless supplies of desserts. And turkey sandwiches for days! Every year, we pile our plates high with reckless abandon, pushing aside memories of the bloating, gas, cramping, and often, constipation following a second piece of your grandmother’s pecan pie. Before you let loose and suffer the consequences, here are four foods to eat sparingly so that you keep your bowels up and running during holiday munchathon.

Processed Foods

Anything processed, including frozen foods and canned foods, contains high amounts of salt and other additives that all hinder your body from digesting properly. The additional salt can also lead to dehydration, and dehydration means less moisture. Try eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains as much as possible.

Dairy

Sure, yogurts contain healthy bacteria, which do help regulate the digestive system. However, dairy such as milk, cheese and ice cream contains no fiber, so it leads to hardened stools. Drink plenty of water and fibrous foods if you do plan on eating a good amount of dairy.

White bread and Sweets

White bread and sugary treats have high calories and little nutrition; including little fiber. Since fiber is essential in softening stools, the lack of it could make things a bit… well, hard.

Meat

Protein is important. One of the great things about consuming protein is that it takes your body longer to break down, keeping you feeling full longer. The problem with getting all of your protein from meat is that it’s generally a challenge for your body to digest meat. On top of tough digestion, a lack of water and little fiber can make your stools even harder when digesting meat.

This holiday season, enjoy the food, but be mindful of how much of these foods you’re eating. Quickly upping your intake of any one type of these foods can throw your digestive system off from its normal cycle. That post-turkey nap would be a lot sweeter without the cramping and pain from your bowels being in a holding pattern.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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