Proper gastrointestinal function (GI) is essential to the adequate absorption of nutrients and can impact all aspects of body function. Some say we are what we eat; it’s probably more accurate to say we are what we digest and absorb.
Approximately 1/3 of daily caloric expenditure is used for digestion, assimilation and immune function while maintaining the gastrointestinal tract. With 70% of our immune system located in our gut, the health of our gut can be an accurate indication of our overall health.
Gastrointestinal issues are one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical care. This can include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). Many patients in the UK self-medicate with over the counter products like acid reflux pills, laxatives, pain killers etc. which may provide temporary relief for some of the symptoms but do not address the core problem.
A Functional Medicine Approach
A Functional medicine approach aims to identify the root cause of the problem.
The gut is physiologically a complex organ. It contains many more bacteria than cells in our body and apparently if you stretched out our small intestine it would cover the size of a tennis court. It is the only organ system of the body with its own independently working lymphatic and nervous system.
Further there is bi-directional signaling between our brain and our gut. Our gut has been called our ‘second brain’ for good reason, which gives credibility to going with your ‘gut instinct.’
The gut also plays a crucial role in our immunity, both locally and systemically in the body, which why it’s often one of the first places we focus on improving health.
Gastrointestinal dysfunction can have many causes including stress, low levels of stomach acid, food intolerances, lack of fibre, infections, bacteria or parasites to name a few.
It’s more than just your diet
What you eat (and drink) is important and that includes both quality and quantity but the digestion of your food is also critical. A sufficient level of stomach acid is vital for optimal digestion, as are good quantities of digestive enzymes to start the process of breaking down food. Balanced levels of healthy bacteria are critical for immune tolerance.
Healthy digestive function and regular removal of waste products and toxins can help us feel lighter and energised.
Working through your daily diet and tracking any digestive symptoms that you may be experiencing is the first step. Functional testing allows us to explore digestive function more accurately giving us scientific evidence of possible bacterial dysbiosis, presence of parasites or pathogenic bacteria, inflammation and other imbalances.
We then tailor your personal program according to your symptoms and test results, providing a comprehensive nutritional strategy, which may include food plans and a supplement protocol to support optimal gastrotintestinal function.
The consultation process is the same starting with an initial 1-hour consultation and follow-up consultations to review progress at a maxiumum of monthly intervals until all your health goals have been achieved.