Let's talk about ALL THINGS GUT related! Americans have ALOT of GUT problems because we consume a TON OF GARBAGE! In fact, some of the things we consider uniquely "good for our health" is actually JUST GARBAGE!
Think of your digestive tract as one long, continuous, hollow tube from your mouth to your anus and everything in between!
Yes! We are going to get up close and personal with ALL YOUR BOWEL ISSUES from top to bottom in this discussion!
Digestion STARTS in your mouth! Did you know that CARB digestion in particular starts on your tongue! Your brain detects CARBS the fastest! It can make QUICK USE of carbs and can use CARBS to build FAT storage (a back up supply of fuel😁). Carbs are quite valuable from your brain's perspective! If you are trying to AVOID carbs, don't even let them touch your tongue! This will have you immediately CRAVING additional carbs! Hence, this is why even chewing gum can backfire by just increasing your hunger!
The act of chewing gets the entire length of your DIGESTIVE TRACT working. Your stomach acid gets flowing, bile and pancreatic enzymes get released, and you may even pass gas or have a bowel movement... more potential trash coming in means old trash has to be removed! Your intestine is carrying around days of trash most of the time!
But I'm getting ahead of myself... Let's start at the upper end of your digestive tract!
Many people suffer with symptoms of stomach upset and indigestion. This covers a whole spectrum of disease:
-Gastro (stomach)-Esophageal (referring to the tube, esophagus, between your throat and stomach) Reflux Disease-is caused by the direct effect of stomach acid washing up into your throat. It is also known as GERD, reflux, heartburn, indigestion, or esophagitis (that burning discomfort in your esophagus).
-Barrett's Esophagus- thickening of the lower portion of the esophagus caused by chronic reflux of acid- This leads to CANCER of the esophagus!
-Gastritis- breakdown in the stomach lining due to physical wear and tear or increased acid
-Peptic Ulcer disease- AKA stomach ulcers are actual "potholes" that occur in the stomach when gastritis is not addressed. This can be caused by bacteria as well.
Stomach ulcers that are not addressed can lead to CANCER AND DEATH!
There are millions of people out there who suffer (some tremendously!) with heartburn EVERY SINGLE DAY and never consider SWITCHING their diet! That is ludicrous! WHY ludicrous? Read the above☝️ more closely.... you see the words CANCER and DEATH right? Also, this problem is SO EASY TO FIX WITH A LOW CARB DIET. Typically, people who have suffered for YEARS with these problems are FIXED by day 3 and NEVER suffer again🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯. Here's the weird part: Gastroenterologists (trained stomach/intestinal specialists) are NOT routinely giving patients the advice to go low carb--- perhaps they would be out of business😲🤷♀️.
So here's what to do if you have heartburn/indigestion:
- eat a low carb diet
-stay upright after you consume anything for at least 2 hours- don't recline
-do not eat or drink within 2 hours of bedtime
-wear loose clothing around the waist
-use acid reducing substances if needed: Tums, Pepcid, PeptoBismol, Baking soda
Next! Let's talk Gallbladder issues! The gallbladder is a tiny balloon-like sac below your liver and just past your stomach in your digestive tract. It stores bile, a greenish fluid manufactured in the liver. Bile is used to digest the fat you eat. This bile can thicken inside the gallbladder (often from dehydration) and form sludge or even worse, stones (gallstones). When stones form in the gallbladder and get pushed into the neck of the balloon-like sac, they can get STUCK, causing tremendous pain. This is a GALLBLADDER ATTACK! If they get stuck permanently, they may need to be removed by a surgeon!
A gallbladder attack causes SEVERE PAIN in your belly underneath your right ribs and is often associated with vomiting. If you have painful episodes after eating, it's important to have this investigated. Traditionally, doctors will tell you to avoid FAT to reduce gallbladder attacks. This has certainly being challenged by all the low carb, high fat eaters out there who have gallstones. I will tell you for certain that the S.A.D. (standard American diet) is NOT a protection against gallstones or attacks- quite the opposite!
ANY CHANGE in your diet may cause gallbladder attacks to appear or worsen. Some people will opt to have known gallbladder problems addressed prior to changing their diet. Others will take the risk and see what happens. I have had clients with known gallstones do fine on a higher fat diet. I also have had clients need to STOP and take care of their gallbladder problem before proceeding. If you know or suspect you have this problem, it's worth having a conversation with me about his specifically.
Moving On! Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical term that almost everyone in America is familiar with. It is extremely common thanks to our poor diet! Often, physicians prescribe medications to help you DEAL with your IBS symptoms. But why just DEAL with it when you can FIX IT? 95% of the time, the PROBLEM is something you are eating frequently. Again, most physicians and stomach specialists will recommend you begin keeping a diary of IBS symptoms and begin cutting things out of your diet one by one to detect your problem. I'm going to suggest a simpler and faster way!
Here's my recommendation for IBS: SLASH whole categories of food out of your diet to solve the mystery QUICKER!
(1) start by first cutting out TONS OF TRASH from your diet! This includes all the EXCESS CARBS, which includes all the EXCESS FIBER! Yes, the very thing people often tell you to consume to "fix" the problem! The Jumpstart Diet recommended in Week 1 of ACCELERATOR VERY OFTEN DOES THE TRICK to resolve IBS for MANY PEOPLE!
(2) If you continue to have problems, I will recommend you cut back on dairy next. A huge portion of people are simply lactose intolerant.
(3) Still have issues? Next, cut all "bread and pasta like substitutes"- gluten intolerance is the next big category of IBS causing food.
(4) STILL HAVING ISSUES? Time to go extreme! Choose ONE FOOD (chicken is a good choice) ONLY, to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days. Then progress slowly by adding back just one food at a time until your problem re-occurs. This reverse detective work is much quicker than cutting out items one at a time.
(5) STILL have issues??? Now it's time to see a specialist for some probing, imaging, biopsy sampling, etc. You may be among the 5% of patients who have a more serious cause of IBS, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or even cancer.
Next, let's talk CONSTIPATION 😰! The definition of constipation is different for every person. Some people have a bowel movement everyday, some every other day, and some every 3-7 days. Going anything less than YOUR NORMAL amount meets the definition of constipation for YOU. Typically, truly constipated people also feel bloated, uncomfortable in their clothing, and occasionally nauseated. Some people are genetically more prone to constipation than others. Certain medications can also lead to increased constipation.
Especially for those prone to constipation, just like any other IBS sufferer, a switch in diet may create an increased problem, at least temporarily. Low carb beginners often get concerned about not getting as much FIBER. There are plenty of low carb, HIGH FIBER vegetables you may continue to include in your diet. Most often, it's the loss of water during the first 7-10 days on a low carb diet that leads to increased constipation. It's important to keep the digestive tract slippery on the inside by ensuring adequate hydration! Nothing leads to constipation like dehydration! Another major factor in constipation is MOVEMENT. As we walk, we gently shake everything in our digestive tract toward the bottom with the help of gravity. More movement leads to less constipation problems.
Here are my recommendations for constipation:
-stay well hydrated
-get some movement/exercise/walk everyday
-Include enough salt in your diet (most laxatives are a form of salt!)
-careful with too much CHEESE- this can be constipating for some
-take a bulk forming laxative like Metamucil or Fibercon daily if needed
-a tall, very dark, caffeinated coffee has been known to push everything along
-stool softeners can be added as needed - these include OTC Colace and Sennakot
-Glycerin suppositories work wonders by stimulating movement from below
-use laxatives like Milk of Magnesia, Magnesium Citrate (a good daily supplement for chronic sufferers!), or Dulcolax if you get desperate
-for severe chronic constipation sufferers, for whom ALL OF THE ABOVE is not working, prescription drugs exist
One tip for my ACCELERATOR beginners: when you stop eating LESS TRASH, there is less trash to be removed. You may be just having less bowel movements, not actual constipation. If you have no discomfort, you may just wait another day or two before panicking🤓. Start doing the minimum: drink more water, salt your food, go for a long walk!
Lastly, the dreaded DIARRHEA! Diarrhea refers to any bowel movement that is not fully formed-- everything from mushy to watery. Diarrhea is often associated with bloating and cramps and can be mild (less than 3 episodes/day and self limited (lasting less than 3 days) or severe and deadly (see below). The causes of diarrhea are extensive, too many to fully discuss here. Of course, ANY DIETARY CHANGE, including making the switch to a low carb diet, can lead to temporary diarrhea.
Here are just SOME of the things to consider as a cause for your diarrhea:
-viruses (Norwalk virus (also known as norovirus), adenoviruses, astrovirus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is a common pediatric cause. And the latest popular cause: COVID)
-bacteria and parasites from contaminated food and water (Campylobacter, E.coli, Salmonella, and Shigella) (Giardia, cryptosporidium)
-Medications (antibiotics, metformin, antidepressants, some BP meds, acid reducers, levothyroxine)
-excess fruit, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols (sorbitol, erythritol, mannitol)
-Allergies to certain foods (gluten)
-Diabetes (frequent diarrhea can be one of the first signs)
-Diseases of the intestines (such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
-Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
-Running (Some people get “runner’s diarrhea” for reasons that aren’t clear.)
-Surgery on your digestive system
Causes for concern with diarrhea:
-more than 3 times daily for more than 3 days
-excessive watery diarrhea with nausea-- unable to rehydrate
-diarrhea associated with increasing weakness or dizziness
-fever without other cold/flu symptoms
-bloody, black, or mucous filled stools
-very severe pain or abdominal swelling not relieved by OTC meds
-following international travel or recent antibiotic use
Treatment for diarrhea:
-stop eating/drinking any NEW foods you suspect may be causing it
-make sure to extra hydrate when you have diarrhea. Broth, pickle juice, or electrolyte additives work well for replacing some of the electrolytes you are losing
-take PeptoBismol or Kaopectate for symptom relief
-Imodium or Loperamide can be used to slow down severe diarrhea
Note: treatments should not be needed for more than 3 days. If no improvement, seek consultation with a doctor. (If you've been my client: just email me! I'm happy to assist your decision making🤓)
Well... we didn't quite make it to U-Ranus! 😁 Perhaps we'll talk about hemorrhoids another time! 😂
I hope this discussion helps you with some of your belly concerns! If you know anyone who is suffering from chronic heartburn, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation send them my way! I can help them find some relief and possibly diagnose the problem-- we are often our own BEST DETECTIVES when it comes to solving medical problems!