Functional Medicine for Digestive Disorders

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The digestive system is an intricate network of organs that transports food from the mouth, stomach and oesophagus through small and large intestines to the liver, gall bladder and pancreas.

Digestive disorders affect millions of people around the world, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe and including bloating and nausea.

Identifying the Root Cause

The digestive system, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, is an extensive organ that performs many important functions. It breaks down food into digestible components and absorbs essential nutrients and fluids for absorption into your body, shields you against harmful bacteria or substances and eliminates waste from circulation.

Digestive disorders occur when something in your GI tract prevents it from working optimally. Health professionals differentiate these conditions into two categories: organic and functional GI disorders.

Organic GI disorders refer to structural abnormalities of the digestive tract that do not improve with medical treatment. Examples include ulcers, which occur when stomach acid seeps back into the oesophagus or duodenum. It’s caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria which lives in both stomach and small intestine and can withstand high levels of acidity.

Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic illnesses that affect digestion. Signs may include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating and weight loss in severe cases; permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract as well as other serious issues like celiac disease.

One of the first steps in treating digestive disorders is pinpointing their root causes. To do this, you’ll need lab tests and dietary suggestions.

Finding the source of your symptoms may be challenging, but it’s necessary for long-term relief and an improved quality of life. For instance, if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), knowing which foods trigger it so that you can eliminate them from your diet and start feeling better will be a huge help.

Digestion disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, such as your lifestyle, environment and medications. Common causes include eating too many processed carbohydrates or not getting enough physical activity, dehydration from certain medications and nutritional deficiencies.

The walls of your intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract as you move food through them. Strong contractions can cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea while weak ones slow food passage and result in hard, dry stools.

Digestion disorders often stem from an inefficient coordination between the brain and digestive tract. If this connection is disrupted, you may feel discomfort or pain when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool accumulation.

Identifying Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can be a major source of digestive symptoms and autoimmunity, as they trigger the immune system to respond to certain foods and release inflammation-causing mediators. When patients identify and eliminate reactionary foods from their diets, they often experience immediate improvement in symptoms.

Thankfully, food sensitivities can be easily identified and eliminated with functional medicine. A food sensitivity test will help us get to the source of your issues; once identified, we’ll help optimize your diet and gradually introduce that food back into your system to see how it responds.

Some tests measure IgG antibodies, while others utilize cellular response testing (MRT) to assess your sensitivity to each food or chemical. MRT tests show the size of your white blood cells before and after exposure to each item tested, providing information about how your body responds to that food or chemical. Furthermore, MRT results will provide you with a graded rating for white blood cell reactivity so you can quickly discern what level of sensitivity you possess.

A Food Sensitivity Test is a non-invasive diagnostic that measures your IgG antibodies against foods that trigger an immune response. It’s an invaluable tool in combatting autoimmunity and relieving inflammation.

In addition to diagnosing food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, a food sensitivity test can also be used to diagnose leaky gut. Leaky gut is an autoimmune condition in which the intestinal wall becomes permeable, allowing large proteins from foodstuffs to pass through into circulation and activating an immune response.

For example, patients with celiac disease often exhibit gluten sensitivity on a food sensitivity test. This reactivity could also indicate leaky gut, as antibodies released by your immune system can lodge inside the intestinal lining and cause inflammation.

Identifying Toxins

Digestion disorders often have their origin in toxins that have been ingested or inhaled, which can come from food sources, products used, and environmental pollutants. The health effects of these toxins range from mild to severe; they may cause gastrointestinal issues, respiratory symptoms, or skin rashes.

Thankfully, it is possible to eliminate toxins from your life and improve your wellbeing. Functional medicine practitioners are knowledgeable in identifying toxins and can assist you in eliminating them from your lifestyle.

Functional Medicine Practitioners take a patient-centric approach to healthcare, encouraging positive vitality through nutrition, diet and lifestyle modifications. They go beyond simply treating symptoms to identify the source of illness and facilitate healing with comprehensive diagnostic testing and personalized treatment plans tailored for each individual’s needs.

With a gut disorder like leaky gut syndrome, the walls of your intestines can become loose and allow undigested food particles and toxins to pass into your bloodstream. This triggers an immune response which not only attacks these undigested substances but also healthy body cells.

If you are experiencing digestive difficulties due to a toxic overload, seek medical assistance. A functional medicine provider can identify what’s causing your toxicity and suggest strategies for effective remediation. They will guide you in eliminating trigger foods from your diet and replacing them with healing foods designed to strengthen the gut barrier.

A nutrient-rich, whole foods diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables will aid your liver in eliminating toxins. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce inflammation within the organ and enhance its detoxifying capabilities.

A functional medicine practitioner can advise you on the supplements necessary to reduce toxins and enhance overall wellness. They’ll also assist in making dietary and lifestyle adjustments that support your body’s natural detoxification processes, thus aiding in the improvement of overall wellbeing.

Adopting a toxin-free lifestyle is one of the best ways to safeguard yourself against developing digestive disorders and other chronic illnesses. Eating organic foods whenever possible, eliminating processed items and avoiding pesticides are all excellent steps towards decreasing your toxic load.

Identifying Lifestyle Changes

Functional medicine often includes lifestyle modifications as part of the treatment plan, as they help to prevent and treat diseases as well as improve overall wellbeing for a person.

A healthy digestive system is essential for overall wellbeing. It allows the body to absorb essential nutrients from food and turn them into energy, decreasing the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Maintaining a healthy digestive system also has been known to aid in weight loss as well.

Digestive issues are an unfortunately common part of life and can impact everyone at some point. Signs include diarrhoea, bloating, stomach pain and gas.

Many of these issues can be traced back to a person’s diet. Eating high-saturated fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar meals makes it harder for the body to digest food and may irritate the lining of your stomach and intestines. On the contrary, eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables helps promote gut health and digestion.

Other lifestyle habits can also lead to digestive issues. Smoking, alcohol consumption, mindless eating and lack of exercise all play a role in creating an unhealthful digestive system.

These habits can wreak havoc on your digestive health by increasing stress and inflammation. But practicing mindfulness, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can help alleviate some of these symptoms.

A healthy diet can also help to reduce inflammation associated with gastrointestinal disorders. Studies have demonstrated that following an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce oxidative stress and lessen symptoms for those suffering from GI disorders.

Maintaining the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract is an integral part of maintaining digestive health. Doing so can help protect and treat conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

People with a history of digestive issues must address them to prevent recurrences. Eating healthily, abstaining from alcohol, and practicing mindfulness can all help alleviate symptoms associated with digestive disorders.

Functional medicine seeks to identify and treat the underlying cause of gastrointestinal issues for patients. It takes a systems biology approach that considers how genetics, environment and lifestyle interact to influence one’s health; functional medicine offers patients an empowering approach in healthcare as they collaborate with their practitioner on creating a personalized plan for improved wellbeing.

For more information or if you would like to discuss treatment and management with Dr Stavy then please contact us via