“Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea!” This is the tagline from a popular Pepto Bismol commercial. As humorous as this commercial is, the reality of digestive issues among us is very prevalent. Many Americans suffer from one of the following conditions: irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, gas, bloating, heartburn and acid reflux.
I recently had a patient come to us for lower back pain. During our first visit, we were discussing his overall health and he shared that he had a sudden onset of constipation for the past few months. This was beginning to be more bothersome then the lower back pain. He is a vegetarian who eats primarily white rice and vegetables. I suggested a few small changes: switch to brown rice instead of the white and eat a serving of whole oatmeal daily. We added probiotics, digestive enzymes, Vitamin C and magnesium. He made the changes and within a few days, he was having regular bowel movements and feeling so grateful. Here are some helpful hints to help you alleviate common digestive problems.
Constipation: Start with increasing water intake to the amount of half of your body weight in ounces. For example, a one-hundred-pound person should drink 50 ounces of water/fluids per day. Increase dietary fibers such as beans, brown rice, oatmeal, apples, spinach and legumes. Aim for 30 grams per day. Try digestive enzymes to aid in food breakdown. Add probiotics to improve digestive track health. Vitamin C pulls water into the lumen of the gut to help soften the stool and magnesium is a muscle relaxer which can relax a spastic intestine.
Gas and Bloating: If you experience gas or bloating soon after eating something, your body does not have the necessary enzymes available to breakdown that food. The simplest solution is to avoid that food. Alternatively, you can take digestive enzymes 15-30 minutes before you eat that gas producing food so the enzymes are available in your stomach to breakdown the food.
Acid Reflux: If you carry Rolaids or Tums with you everywhere you go, pay attention. You have probably been told that you have too much acid in your stomach and you need these products to reduce the acid. In reality, we need acid in our stomachs to digest the food. As we get older, we begin to produce less acid which makes it more difficult to digest properly. Throw out the Rolaids and replace it with digestive enzymes that also have hydrochloric acid in the product. It will read “HCl” on the nutrition label. Take these about 15-30 minutes before each meal.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The first step is eliminating the foods that are triggers. Often these are gluten and dairy products but could also be something like garlic or tomatoes. You need to heal your intestinal lining with L-glutamine, an amino acid that patches up the leaks in the gut. Strengthen the gut environment with probiotics. Reduce systemic inflammation with turmeric and ginger and Omega-3 oils. Additional nutritional considerations can be modified if you tend to have more diarrhea or constipation.
Candida Albicans: What is Candida? It is an overgrown of yeast in the intestinal tract. We all have yeast in our GI track but when it overgrows it becomes a problem. Symptoms includes stomach pain after eating, headaches, rectal itching, chronic fatigue, sweet cravings, joint and muscle aches. Risk factors include frequent doses of antibiotics, chronic stress, hypothyroidism, and diets high in simple sugars and alcohol. Here is a simple check to see if you possibly have Candida overgrowth in your GI tract. In the morning, pour bottled water into a glass so it is half full. Then spit your first morning saliva into the glass on top of the water. Wait for 10-20 minutes. If the saliva is sitting on top of the water, you do not have Candida. If the saliva is falling into the water with stringy tails, there is a good chance you have Candida. Treatment includes a complete elimination of all sugary foods and vinegars since sugar feeds the Candida yeast. This includes healthy sugars from sweet potatoes and berries. Consider a supplement of Caprylic Acid to kill off some of the yeast and balance the GI flora by adding a probiotic.
If you have further questions about this article or would like a consultation, we would love to help you. As always, feel free to contact me at the Sports & Spinal Wellness Center at 518-869-3415 or visit our website www.sportsandspinalwellness.com, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sportsandspinalwellness. We would love to be a part of your healthcare team.
Dr. Kim Leis-Keeling is a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic by the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the University of the State of New York Education Department. She graduated from Northwestern Health Science University in Bloomington, MN in 2003. She is also a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians. She holds two Bachelor degrees in Exercise Science and Business Management from Concordia University. While attending Concordia, she was a member of the intercollegiate volleyball, basketball and track teams.
Dr. Kim resides in Guilderland with husband, Mark, and two children, Tristan and Taylor. She graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, MN. She has been a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician for eight years.