A properly functioning digestive system is essential for optimal health. Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down and processing food, absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste. It also acts as a protective barrier keeping out harmful invaders. The digestive tract contains millions of immune cells, as well as beneficial bacteria that help digest food and protect from infections and toxins.
When the digestive system is out of balance, the rest of your body suffers. This can lead to malnutrition, overgrowth of harmful bacteria, inflammation and a host of symptoms. Signs of digestive distress include heartburn and acid reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating and abdominal distention, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.
Digestive complaints are often due to an imbalance of proper nutrition, unhealthy gut flora, and sub-optimal nervous system functioning. Factors that can affect the function of the digestive system include:
- Food sensitivities: foods that you are consuming may actually be irritating the lining of your digestive tract causing inflammation and absorption issues
- Mental/emotional stress: worry, anxiety and stress can hinder digestive function
- Dysbiosis: a poor diet and antibiotic use can cause imbalances in your intestinal bacteria
- Medication side-effects: the use of certain drugs such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can disrupt the acid levels in the stomach and thus impair breakdown of food and protection from infection
Digestive health is linked to so many different factors and these are just a few potential contributors. A thorough assessment of your symptoms and health history, along with laboratory testing can help uncover the underlying cause and resolve your digestive concerns. Testing options that your Naturopathic Doctor may suggest include: basic blood work including liver enzymes and inflammatory markers, food sensitivity and food allergy testing, comprehensive stool analysis, as well as gluten intolerance and celiac testing.
Naturopathic Doctors see digestive wellness as a key piece to any health plan and can help decide what treatment approach would be best for you. Treatment options may include dietary modifications, as well as nutritional and/or herbal supplementation. Other tools that may be useful in healing the gut include food elimination, high-quality probiotics, stress management, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies. The Naturopathic Doctors at the Markham Village Naturopathic Clinic can help identify the root cause of your digestive issues and come up with a treatment plan that would be most effective for you.
Optimizing the function of your digestive system is essential when it comes to boosting you overall health and immunity.