Call GI North Today!

(404) 446-0600

View the GI North Facebook Page!


View the GI North Twitter Page!


View the GI North YouTube Page!


View the GI North Blog!


GI North Blog

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.

IBS About 20 % of the U.S. population suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and if you’re one of them, you understand how frustrating even a normal daily schedule can be. The persistent abdominal pain, cramping, spasm, bloating and gas production, combined with constipation, diarrhea or both, can have a great impact on your quality of life.

While there’s no cure yet for IBS, there are proven links between your diet and symptoms of IBS. Knowing what foods trigger your symptoms and what foods can ease the discomfort should keep your gastrointestinal problems minimized.

Each Person is Different

IBS sufferers fall into one of the following groups:

There are 3 types of IBS patients. They are divided into the following groups:

  • IBS-D – IBS patients/diarrhea predominant
  • IBS-C – IBS patients/constipation predominant
  • IBS-A – IBS patients/constipation alternating with diarrhea

Because each person is different, the types of foods that influence symptoms are different as well. That’s why it’s important to keep a food journal. Keeping record of what you eat and how it and other outside factors affect your symptoms can guide you on what you can and shouldn’t eat in order to minimize symptoms.

Foods that have been identified that may cause the most intense symptoms of IBS have been divided into the following categories:

For patients with gas and bloating:

  • Vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas and onions
  • Beans and nuts such as soybeans, peanuts, lentils, black and red beans, and garbanzo beans
  • Certain fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, figs and raisins

For patients with cramping and diarrhea:

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice cream
  • Greasy foods, fried foods, or meals that are too high in fat
  • Certain beverages such as coffee, caffeine, alcohol, diet and regular sodas
  • Insoluble fiber found in certain whole grains such as wheat, barley or rye
  • Artificial sweeteners, especially sorbitol and fructose, as these are poorly absorbed by the bowel

For patients with constipation symptoms the key is to actually consume more of the following:

  • More whole grains and cereals
  • More dried beans, nuts, peas, and seeds as tolerated
  • More fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Increased fluid intake, especially 6-8 glasses of water daily

By tweaking your diet and minimizing those “trigger foods,” you may be able to keep your IBS Symptoms under control, and experience a less stressful quality of life.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Stress can affect your body and central nervous system in more ways than you think, so it should be no surprise that stress can impact how well your digestive system works.

Here’s Why

Acid Reflux When you’re under stress, your body begins transferring blood from your internal organs to the muscles as a way to cope with stress. When the blood leaves your digestive system in order to go to the muscles, your digestive process slows down, leaving food less digested and in the stomach longer than it should be. Undigested food is one of the primary factors leading to acid reflux.

As the digestive system slows and food builds up in your stomach, the level of gastric acid rises, building pressure against the mechanism designed to keep food from coming back up into your esophagus. That mechanism is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If the pressure is great enough, stomach acid will escape into the esophagus, because the contents of the stomach have put too much pressure on the LES.

When the gastric acid enters the esophagus it can trigger a number of acid reflux and stress symptoms such as heartburn. In chronic cases of acid reflux, the gastric acid can reach up into the throat; causing severe sore throat and bad breath.

Learn to Minimize Stress for Greater Comfort

While some of us may resort to drinking or eating “comfort foods” that are high in fat, the comforting results are brief. They ultimately will only exacerbate your acid reflux symptoms.

Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach and intestinal tract; and it kills a lot of the good bacteria in your system that are responsible for proper digestion. Alcohol relaxes you, but also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter. It stays open longer and allows more gastric juices to flow back up.

Instead of treating yourself to a couple of glasses of wine, or indulging in a plate of fried chicken fingers and fries, stop connecting food with comfort, and try taking time for yourself. Make sure you are relaxed before eating, and your digestive system will most likely work better when you do eat.

If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or poor digestion, we recommend you schedule a time to talk with our doctors at GI North. They specialize in treating acid reflux and other related digestive conditions.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Probiotics After years of study, scientists do have evidence that probiotics are beneficial to our health. While probiotics are traditionally found in fermented milk products such as yogurt, food producers are adding probiotics to a variety of foods. These probiotic-enhanced foods are often known as functional foods and have exploded onto the food market. So, with new products entering the market daily that contain these healthy bacteria, could adding some functional foods to your diet be the ticket to a healthier digestive tract?

Probiotics and Their Benefits

Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast in a person’s digestive tract that provide a health benefit to their host by reducing toxic and allergenic substances in the intestine and colon. In fact, did you know that the human body contains well over a trillion bacteria weighing more than 3 lbs. in all? There’s a new fact to impress people with.


Probiotics encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. They also reduce the inflammatory response to dairy products, helping with the digestion of lactose in milk. Also, Lactobacillus acidophilus helps you absorb B vitamins and vitamin K, along with fatty acids and minerals such as calcium.

Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast strain, helps control diarrhea. A particularly difficult strain of unfriendly bacteria, Clostridium difficile, upsets the balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria in the colon after antibiotics have killed other microorganisms. Saccharomyces boulardii helps check the growth of Clostridium difficile.

Probiotics have proven benefits and could be just the solution your GI tract needs. If you have digestive problems, schedule a time with one of our doctors at GI North to determine if probiotics or other treatment can help relieve some of your symptoms.

© 2012 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Fill out my online form.