The unimaginable complexity of the gut and its significance to our overall well-being is a subject of growing analysis in the healing community. Various studies in the past two decades have shown links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer.
Digestive system problems such as heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation reflect what’s happening throughout your body. The main drivers of gut health change are shifts in stomach acid, gut immunity, and gastrointestinal flora—the complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system.
Most people don’t like to talk about it, but having gut issues. There’s no need to suffer from an abnormal condition of the stomach in silence, though. Here’s a look at three of the most prevalent gut conditions, symptoms, and the most effective treatments available. If you suspect you have one of these issues, speaking to a GP is the best option for discovering the right treatment.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune ailment where the immune system strikes and corrupts the lining of the small intestine. This self-harm is triggered by gluten (or more precisely gliadin – one of the proteins that produce gluten), which can be found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. The illness creates inflammation in the gut, and an abnormal condition of the stomach including pain, diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue. Coeliac disease is believed to affect 1% of the population and usually starts in middle age. See: 5 Tips on How To Unconstipate Yourself
Diagnosis is as simple as a blood test. Despite the abnormal condition of the stomach that gluten may be causing, it’s essential to remain eating grain-based foods in the run-up to a blood test to ensure an exact result. If coeliac disease antibodies are discovered in the blood, a GP will suggest a biopsy for verification. It’s possible to have coeliac disease and not produce these antibodies, nevertheless, so if symptoms persist, a GP may still suggest a biopsy.
Coeliac disease is normally managed by completely eliminating all grain-based foods. Symptoms should improve considerably within weeks of beginning a gluten-free diet.
If we have lactose intolerance, we are unable to completely digest the natural sugar (known as lactose) discovered in milk. This abnormal condition of the stomach is normally created by too little of the enzyme accountable for breaking down lactose (known as lactase) in our small intestine. As a result, we might encounter diarrhea, gas, and bloating, anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours after consuming a dairy product.
GPs have two easy tests at their disposal to diagnose lactose intolerance. The first is a hydrogen breath examination. This entails drinking a glass of milk and measuring the levels of hydrogen in our breath at regular intervals. High levels of hydrogen indicate that we haven’t been able to fully digest the lactose and may be intolerant. The second test is a blood test that likewise measures blood sugar levels after consuming a glass of milk. Here, the absence of a blood sugar spike means that the milk sugars haven’t been suitably digested.
‘Most people can cope with a degree of gas in their guts, whereas IBS sufferers may experience sharp pain and discomfort’
Unlike coeliac disease, most people with lactose intolerance can handle the situation without having to give up dairy foods completely. Some discover they can stand smaller portions of dairy alongside other foods (rather than large servings in one sitting). Likewise, people may discover they can consume hard cheeses as these are generally lower in lactose. Over-the-counter pills or drops including lactase can also help to support dairy digestion and limit symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common abnormal condition of the stomach estimated to affect one in seven of us at some stage in our life. Though it can happen at any age, it often flashes up during our thirties, and symptoms can include bloating stomach cramps, and either constipation or diarrhea.
People with IBS tend to have very delicate nerve endings in their gut, so it’s not always an abundance of gas that’s the dilemma. Most people can cope with a range of gas in their guts, whereas IBS victims may encounter sharp pain and discomfort. See: Gut Issues and Concerns: How do you know if you have SIBO?
There are no examinations for IBS, but a GP may administer a blood test to rule out other diseases such as Coeliac disease. Instead of a conclusive test, a GP will diagnose symptoms solely, so before an appointment, it can help to have a food journal and record the details of symptoms as and when they occur.
The best-tested method for IBS originated in Australia and is known as the FODMAPs diet. FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides and Polyols) refers to the types of carbohydrates that can cause this abnormal condition of the stomach. The diet is a sensitive science that includes cutting out all these carbs, and slowly reintroducing them with the supervision of a registered dietician.
Though fiber and fermented foods (prebiotics and probiotics) are customarily celebrated for our gut health, they are rich in FODMAPs. This suggests those with IBS can often cause themselves a great deal of additional pain while trying to correct their digestive ailments.