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GI North Blog

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.


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.


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.

Caffeine According to the FDA, eighty percent of adults consume coffee everyday. With our days growing increasingly demanding, it’s no surprise that we have to have our caffeine fix daily! Caffeine is a stimulant found in products such as coffee, tea, cocoa, soda, and some medications. Caffeine makes us more alert, speeds up our metabolisms, and even enhances our moods. But, with all those benefits, too much caffeine can be harsh on your digestive system. Let’s look at it’s effect on your GI Tract.


Caffeine may get you going in the morning, but part of the effect of the drug is that it increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Your heart beats faster and you get a boost of energy, but the blood supply to the intestines decreases. This reduction in supply of blood slows digestion.

Increased Peristalsis (We’ll explain further…)

Caffeine acts as a laxative and increases the muscle contractions (known as peristalsis) that move food through the digestive system. This effect can happen pretty quickly after you consume your coffee. Ever wonder why Great Uncle Herb was cranky if he didn’t have his coffee in the morning? You got your answer.

Increased Diuresis

Caffeine acts as a diuretic. Blood flow to the kidneys is increased, resulting in increased urine production. Increased urine can lead to dehydration, which in turn can contribute to constipation. Drink plenty of water to compensate for the loss of fluids.

Gastric Secretions

That just sounds bad, doesn’t it? Caffeine is acidic, increasing the acidity in your digestive system. In turn, your body produces more gastric juices. This can irritate the intestinal lining, leading to upset stomach. Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause ulcers and gastritis. Caffeine can worsen symptoms if you have gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Keep in mind that reasonable amounts of caffeine in most healthy adults is considered safe. The FDA says that it’s safe to drink one to two cups of coffee per day (that’s up to 200 milligrams, not two supersized travel mugs-worth). Caffeine should be avoided if you have certain health problems including heart disease, hypertension, or disorders of the gastrointestinal system.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Wheat Allergy Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you have most likely noticed the emergence of a wide variety of gluten free products. From pancake mixes, to bagels and muffins, to even pastas and sauces. It’s a highly sought-after group of food products due to the increased awareness of wheat’s affect on some people. But, not all digestive problems stemming from wheat are the same. Let’s look at the difference between having actual Celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, and having a wheat allergy.

Both gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, and a wheat allergy occur after consumption of wheat. The difference in these conditions, however, is what happens inside your body after you’ve eaten the wheat. Gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune problem, whereas an allergic reaction to wheat is a type of hypersensitivity.

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is a genetic predisposition to an autoimmune reaction against a specific protein found in wheat products like wheat, barley and rye. Once the protein, gliadin, is introduced into the body, an enzyme causes inflammation in the small bowel. The inflammation then prevents the villi in the small bowel from absorbing nutrients properly. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K are no longer absorbed properly. It is important to note that gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune disease, where a patient’s immune system attacks its own body.

The most common symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity are fatigue and diarrhea, however, to see more, click here.

Wheat allergy

Wheat allergy is a type 1 hypersensitivity that occurs when a person’s immune system actively attacks foreign allergens. In this case, the allergens are from wheat products. When a person consumes wheat, it is attacked by a wide variety of host cells such as basophils, mast cells, and immunoglobulins. Dryness, itching and inflammation may occur at the site of the reaction.

If you think you may have one of the following problems stemming from wheat, the best thing to do is consult with the doctors at GI North to determine what next steps will help you eliminate the uncomfortable side effects of eating wheat.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

IBS Physical activity may ease your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and also prevent them from getting worse. IBS is marked by daily symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping and either diarrhea, constipation or both. While anxiety, stress and depression do not cause IBS, there is a correlation between the two. If stress causes IBS symptoms to worsen, then reducing stress can keep symptoms at bay.

Get Moving

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which reduce anxiety, stress and pain. Endorphins also help your digestive system work properly and may help with regular bowel function. If you’d like to begin an exercise regimen to combat your IBS symptoms, first talk with your doctor at GI North.

There are many forms of exercise that may be beneficial for IBS symptom relief and some of them may include:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Cardiovascular exercise (rigorous walking, running, swimming,cycling, aerobics)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Prayer and meditation

Try exercising for no less than 30 minutes a day/ 5 days a week to relieve abdominal pain and cramping, and to regulate bowel movements. Again, talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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