Intestinal Health…….What Your Bowel Movements Can Tell You

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE & Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

                                              Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

“On a daily basis, the all-important gut makes sure we experience the sounds, smells, and rumbles of this key player in the quest for a lifetime of super health.”              –Steven G. Pratt, MD–

According to Dr. Pratt (Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine expert):  “Well before the end of the first decade of life, virtually every person has had multiple episodes of gastrointestinal “memorable events.”

  • The gastrointestinal tract–or “GI tract” or “the gut”–starts at the mouth and ends at the anus-where we release feces (waste products) in the form of bowel movements (BMs for short) via the process of defecation.

There are more descriptions, diagnoses, slang, jokes, and innuendos re:  this body area than we can count!!  Gas, bloat, belching, indigestion, constipation, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, irritable bowel, leaky gut, anal leakage, and many more!!  

STATISTICS:  ~60 to 70 million Americans are affected by some type of digestive disease or disorder. Billions are spent for numerous prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications and remedies–for the above ailments. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/statistics.aspx

In this BLOG we will focus on a sometimes sensitive aspect of the gastrointestinal tract, important to each of us:  the nature of “poops” (bowel movements) and proper elimination.  

***If we have healthy poops and elimination habits–we are more likely to experience better overall health, improved immunity, increased mental clarity, greater energy and well-being, and increased longevity.  Our gastrointestinal tract affects directly, or indirectly, all our organ systems.***

It is easier to understand “healthy bowel habits”, if we have a basic understanding of the GI tract. We will review as follows: 

  • Basic structures and functions
  • What is normal?  (re: gas(flatus),  bowel sounds, and bowel movements)
  • Factors that limit,  or negatively effect,  gastrointestinal functioning

We also provide TIPS:  To have a healthier and happier gastrointestinal tract, better overall health and increased longevity

STRUCTURE and FUNCTIONS

Every part of the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role.

digestive system

http://visual.merriam-webster.com/human-being/anatomy/digestive-system.php

In the MOUTH, we rely on GOOD TEETH and gums for chewing, SALIVA for mixing up the foods.

Chewed food travels down the ESOPHAGUS (“the food tube”) into the STOMACH to be mixed with acids and gastric juices, stirred, churned, and partially digested.  This mixture (called chyme) travels into the SMALL INTESTINE, where most nutrient absorption and assimilation occurs.  The Small Intestine has 3 sections:

  • DUODENUM  1st section. Enzymes from the pancreas, and bile from liver and gallbladder are released into the duodenum–to further prepare the digested food mixture for optimal nutritional assimilation.  Iron and calcium are absorbed here, as well as some other nutrients.

***Disease and dysfunction in the duodenum WILL promote inadequate   nutritional absorption in that site, as well as further along the intestinal tract.*** 

Those with celiac disease suffer an inflammation of the small intestine (particularly 1st section–DUODENUM)–due to inability to break down gluten protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Resulting inflammation affects absorption of key nutrients, like iron.

  • JEJUNUM, middle section. The majority of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats) are absorbed here.  Exception:  Vitamin B12, absorbed in latter part of the ileum.
  • ILEUM, 3rd section, connects with LARGE INTESTINE.  In addition to absorbing Vitamin B12, it absorbs bile acid salts, fluids, electrolytes and some remaining nutritional components missed by the jejunum.

http://www.shortbowelfoundation.org/index.php/education/2011-03-10-22-22-33  Article: “The Basics of Digestive Anatomy”

LARGE INTESTINE or COLON

The large intestine has three sections, beginning at the ileocecal valve—where ileum and colon connect.  The three sections are: ascending colon, transverse colon and descending colon-which ends in the anus, the very last part of the rectum.

The colon’s main functions are to: 1. reabsorb fluids and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) 2. compact remaining chyme and undigested food particles, waste, and  break-down products into solid feces for elimination.  3.  absorb small amounts of nutrients such as Vitamin K—which are produced by bacteria in the colon.

NOTE: It takes ~3 days for food to pass from mouth to anus–on a “western diet.”   For vegetarians:  ~1.5 days. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/slideshow/get-scoop-poop(“Get the Scoop on Poop,” Berkeley Wellness newsletter, Oct. 2013)

 WHAT is NORMAL?:   Gas, Sounds, Bowel Movements and Composition

  • GAS (or flatus):

It is normal to produce gas, or flatus, during digestion.  If gas is particularly malodorous and/or uncontrollable–various causes include: poor eating habits, too much sugar, infections, stress (resulting in poor functioning), food allergies or sensitivities (and malabsorption), celiac disease (malabsorption) and/or  other gastrointestinal conditions and diseases (irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and diverticulitis)

FECAL ODOR results from gases produced by bacterial metabolism.  Certain foods like broccoli and cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables) can contribute a stronger odor.  http://biology.about.com/library/organs/bldigestlargeint2.htm  “Absorption, Secretion and Formation of Feces in the Large intestine”

  • BOWEL SOUNDS: 

It is normal to hear sounds or some rumblings.  This means things are working!!  No sounds can indicate a serious blockage.  At times,  intestinal sounds are louder and more active than others–all part of “normal.”   With bouts of diarrhea, they are noisier.  During sleep and when taking certain medications or after anesthesia- they can be quieter, more infrequent.

  • BOWEL MOVEMENTS

 There is a wide spectrum of “normal”; each person has their own “normal”.  However–certain shapes, colors, and properties are considered MORE NORMAL.

***If your bowel movements move out of YOUR normal range–contact your MD or specialist.***

WHAT is in POOP?    NORMAL COMPOSITION

Water makes up ~75 percent of normal bowel movements. The rest is a            combination of fiber, bile from gall bladder, dead and live bacteria, other cells,  and mucus. Soluble fibers (in apples, oats) provide a gel-like substance that becomes part of your poop.  Insoluble fibers–from foods such as whole grains, corn, seeds, carrots–are more difficult to digest, and may emerge in the toilet bowl in very identifiable form.  

http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health-pictures/icky-but-interesting-facts-about-poop.aspx#/slide-2

http://healing.answers.com/physical-health/the-composition-of-normal-stool-samples

Normal Frequency: Ranges 3 per day to 3 times per week.  Excessive may indicate diarrhea and malabsorption.   Less than 3 times per week:  constipation

AMOUNT of STOOL varies, especially as related to dietary habits. According to Dr. Anish Sheth, on his website www.DrStool.com:  “the average American man excretes ~150 grams (5+ oz or 1/3 of a pound) of stool every day, or the  equivalent of 5 tons a year!”

NORMAL SHAPE and TEXTURE

Some descriptive words: Formed (vs liquidy), “texture like peanut butter”, solid, easy to pass. Size and shape of a sausage or having an “S or snake curve.”  Sinks to the bottom of toilet. 

 NOT NORMAL:

Too Liquidy: Due to diarrhea, irritable bowel and/or stress, chronic infection/inflammation, food allergies/sensitivities,  malabsorption issues

Pebbles or small hard pieces, along with straining: The classic description for constipation, which features delayed transit time.  Too much water is reabsorbed  into the large intestine; hard, dry stool results.

Fat particles:  Malabsorption.  Fat in stool is also called steatorrhea.

Floating stools:  Excess gas from undigested foods; change in dietary             habits, infection, malabsorption from celiac disease or gluten issues, or other food sensitivities.

NOTE:  For more graphic detail and images re: bowel movements, check out the “Bristol Stool Chart” at:  http://www.chirocolonics.com/stoolchart.html

This chart was developed by Heaton and Lewis at University of Bristol (UK), and first published in 1997 in Scandinavian J. of Gastroenterology.

Form of the stool depends on time it spends in the colon.

Type 1(constipation) has spent the longest,  and type 7, the least.  Types 1 and 2 are harder to pass and often require straining.  Types 6 and 7 can be too easy to pass – the need to pass them is urgent; accidents can happen.  Ideal stools are types 3 and 4, especially type 4, as they glide out more easily (and do not leave excessive stool on toilet paper.)

COLOR: Normal is: Chocolate Brown to Golden Brown

Normal color is due to intestinal bacteria breaking down bilirubin (bile component) into organic components: stercobilin and urobinin. http://biology.about.com/library/organs/bldigestlargeint2.htm

Stool color tends to be darker in constipation (due to lower fluid content).

Color of poop can vary considerably–depending on food choices, stress and illnesses.   Dr. Oz offers the following chart to help determine possible diseases causing certain colors in the stool.  

 http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/poop-color-chart

However, some colors in the stool are due to benign causes such as irritable bowel syndrome and dysfunctional patterns, especially rapid transit time.  In such cases: orange, red, beet red or green foods may demonstrate their colors in the stool!  You may even see pieces of undigested food in the stool.

Black Stools: Iron supplements can cause a blackish color. Foods like blueberries, beets, black licorice can cause this color. Black colored stools can also indicate internal bleeding high up in the intestinal tract.

Red, maroon or orangy stools: from eating red or orangy foods,  or due to lack of bile acids (liver issues), too rapid a transit  time through the gut,  OR actual blood from hemorrhoids, or more serious issues such as anal fissures, colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticulitis bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease.

Green stools: from green colored foods, iron supplements, or too rapid a transit time through the gut of greenish foods.

Pale or clay-colored stools:  lack of bile salts; antacid medications,  barium from a barium swallow test,  other medications.

Yellow:  Giardia infections, Gilbert’s syndrome,  sticky yellow in fat malabsorption

http://ibdcrohns.about.com/od/dailylife/a/normalbm.htm   “Normal Bowel Movements” by  Amber J. Tresca

***FOR a LIGHT-HEARTED VIEW on a SERIOUS SUBJECT–check out the poop classifications of Paul Chek, who is known for creating the illustrations:  “The Poopie Line-up” and  “The Poop Pageant”.   These graphics are another take on The Bristol Stool Chart, but done in a humorous way).   For “The Poopie Line-Up”, go to:      http://www.paulcheksblog.com/the-joy-of-pooping/   

 FACTORs that Effect GastroIntestinal Functioning

The GI tract is always trying to keep itself in balance and promote health.  However, if too many “onslaughts” are happening at once, it is more challenging.

Limiting (or negative) Factors

  • Poor limited diet, too much sugar and processed “junk food,”  not enough fiber or fluids; too much acid: for ex,  coffee, alcohol
  • Untreated celiac disease or gluten enteropathy (inflammation and disease)
  • Untreated food allergies,  food sensitivities, or Candida yeast
  • Untreated thyroid disease
  • Stress: lack of sleep, excessive traveling, lack of exercise, unresolved chronic issues
  • Genetic predisposition to constipation, diverticulosis, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diabetes and slow gastric emptying time
  • Gastric surgeries requiring diet change to avoid “dumping syndrome”
  • Excessive antibiotics—leading to chronic gut imbalance
  • Over-reliance on medications such as Immodium for diarrhea or Antacids for indigestion.  (used ideally for emergencies—but not  ‘cures.”) 
  • Medications which can lead to either constipation or diarrhea

Medications that may promote loose stools or diarrhea:

Nearly all oral medications can affect the GI tract. Diarrhea is a common  side effect.    The following may cause diarrhea or loose stools.:

  • Laxatives (meant to promote fecal release). They draw water into the gut, and/or by cause intestinal muscles to contract (peristalsis).
  • Antacids that contain magnesium may cause diarrhea or make existing diarrhea worse.  (for example: Milk of Magnesia)
  • Antibiotics.   Our guts are normally filled with many different bacteria. Antibiotics (meant to destroy “bad bugs”) also destroy some healthy bacteria–resulting in an imbalance of gut bacteria.
  • Metformin for treatment of diabetes, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Some herbal teas which contain senna or other “natural” laxatives. (Some herbal teas are intended to promote GI movement, such as “Smooth Move” )
  • Vitamins, minerals, excess magnesium, herbals, or other nutritional supplements may also cause diarrhea.
  • Chemotherapy medicines used to treat cancer and Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Drugs used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers–omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), iansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (AcipHex), pantoprazole (Protonix), cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid)
  • Medications that suppress the immune system (such as mycophenolate)
  • NSAIDs for pain relief: such as ibuprofen and naproxen

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000293.htm  (article: “Drug Induced Diarrhea”)

 Medications that may promote constipation include:

  • Narcotic pain medications such as codeine, Tylenol #3, oxydodone, Percocet,       hydormorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Antidepressants such as amitryptiline in Elavil, Endep;  imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Iron supplements
  • Diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide
  • Blood  pressure lowering medications such as Lisinopril
  • Medications to treat Parkinson’s disease
  • Calcium channel blocking drugs such as diltiazem (Cardizem) and nifedipine (Procardia)
  • Aluminum-containing antacids such as  aluminum hydroxide suspension  (Amphojel) and aluminum carbonate (Basaljel)

NOTE: Some antacid products contain BOTH magnesium and aluminum—to cancel out possible side effects of both constipation and diarrhea. These include  Gaviscon, Gelusil,  Maalox, Mylanta, Wingel.  They should be used as temporary fixes.  Some people are low in total body magnesium and could use extra magnesium; but it is not wise to consume excess aluminum–which can be toxic.

http://www.medicinenet.com/aluminum_with_magnesium_hydroxide-oral/article.htm

http://www.medicinenet.com/constipation/page2.htm Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 9/19/2012

 TIPS for PROMOTING GASTROINTESTINAL HEALTH and FUNCTIONING:

  • Practice healthy lifestyle habits: nutrition, physical activivity, sleep, dental care, stress reduction.
  • Have proper medical exams:  rectal exams, colonoscopies as recommended
  •  Make adequate sleep a priority.  (7-9 hours/day).

***The normal sleep cycle produces hormones melatonin and prolactin, which have been found to improve the good bacteria in our intestines.   Good sleep can help normalize cortisol levels. (High cortisol levels–associated with abdominal obesity.)http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/digestive-health/sleep-digestive-health.aspx

  • Consume adequate fluids: 7-9 cups water per day.  Fluids are needed for normal stool formation.  They move things along in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing constipation.  Common saying: “Fluids flush our system”.
  • DIET: KEY FOCUS!

Consume a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet of whole, unprocessed foods: high in vegetables, some fresh fruits, variety of whole grains (no gluten,  if gluten-intolerant), lean animal proteins (grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free and hormone-free poultry, wild caught fish)  nuts, seeds, beans, healthy fats like avocado, olives, olive oil, fresh coconut.  

 —Avoid excess sugar and processed foods–high in chemicals, toxins, and preservatives.  Sugar can contribute to fermentation (gas resulting) and feed “the bad bugs”– which thus proliferate more quickly in your gut, creating imbalance and a host of problems.)

 —Avoid excess acid: e.g., excess alcohol, coffee (both regular and decaf), sodas-especially colas–high in phosphoric acid.

 —Avoid GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods whenever possible.  GMOs are highly used in corn, soy and wheat crops, some fruits and vegetables.

 Choose organic, locally grown-where possible.            

      ***EAT SLOWLY and MINDFULLY.  Chew your food!***

          ***Leave 2-3 hours between your last meal and bed-time.***

Consume adequate FIBER.   Adult women:  at least grams 25 gramsfiber/day. Adult men:  38+ grams/day. 

 ***Flax or chia seeds added to one’s diet, or mixed into a shake, may help  with    constipation.***

Consume a mix of SOLUBLE and INSOLUBLE FIBER foods. 

SOLUBLE FIBER dissolves in water to form a gel-like material.  Can help        lower blood cholesterol and glucose (sugar) levels.  Found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium (from psyllium seeds).    

INSOLUBLE FIBER promotes movement of material through digestive system, increases stool bulk.  Can help constipation or with irregular stools.  Foods include:  whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans (legumes like black beans, chickpeas, white beans) and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.

NOTE: Many plant foods contain combinations of both soluble and insoluble fibers.  Best to eat a variety of plant-based foods on a regular basis.

See our October BLOG:  https://integratedlifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/high-fiber-and-nutrition-for-fall-recipes-included-2/   “Fiber and Nutrition for Fall!….Recipes Included!”

Fiber Content of Common Foods (Mayo Clinic chart)

Fruits

  • 1 cup raspberries:                                                    8.0 grams
  • 1 medium apple with skin:                                     4.4
  • 1 medium banana:                                                   3.1
  • 1 cup sliced strawberry halves:                              3.0

Grains

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice                                          3.5
  • ¾ cup bran flakes                                                    5.3
  • ½ cup instant oats                                                   2.0
  • ½ cup corn                                                                2.0
  • 1 slice whole grain or rye bread                              1.9

Legumes, Nuts and Seeds

  • 1 cup cooked beans (like black beans)               15-16
  • 23 almonds                                                               3.5
  • ¼ cup sunflower seed kernels                               3.9

 Vegetables

  • 1 cup broccoli                                                           5.1
  • 1 medium carrot                                                       1.
  • ½ cup green peas                                                    4.4

For more CompleteChart of High Fiber Foods, check out: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fiber-foods/NU00582

 Shopping for High Fiber Foods?  check out:   http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/fiber  (Click on: The Ultimate High-Fiber Grocery List.)

Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes per day.  Walking, hiking, running, bicycling, gardening, house-work, sports, dancing, gym (equipment, spinning and other exercise classes), yoga, Tai Chi and other mind/body practices.

***Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, or using elliptical machine–stimulates the colon to move faster and push contents (including gas) along!  Exercise can help alleviate bloat!   Resistance training helps tone abdominal muscles–which helps reduce gastric reflux and bloating.   

http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/digestive-health/exercise-digestive-health.aspx

  • NOTE:  Certain yoga postures stimulate intestines, helping with constipation.
  •  Practice Relaxation and De-Stress regularly.  Physical activity you enjoy, ‘getting lost ‘in an activity you love, meditation/prayer, walking in Nature; planned “time-outs.”,  music, favorite hobbies.
  • If you suspect you have a food sensitivity, food allergy, celiac disease or ‘leaky gut’: discuss this with your care provider.  Rule out illnesses or pathologies. If necessary, consult with a gastroenterologist. Consult with a nutritionist who specializes in gastrointestinal health–for an individualized plan—which may include an elimination diet.
  • Consider going GRAIN-FREE a couple weeks if having chronic intestinal issues with no known medical cause.   The Paleo diet provides gluten-free and grain-free menus (Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo: ), as does The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (by Elaine Gottschall ) and GAPS plan (by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride). Grain-free includes gluten-free, as well as no corn, oats, barley, spelt, rice, quinoa.  Individuals with inflammatory gastrointestinal issues may benefit with FEWER grains OF ALL KINDS in their diets. (i.e. not just gluten-free).
  • Consider giving Low FODMAPS DIET a chance for benign irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.  The belief is that some people handle certain vegetables, grains,  and fruit fibers better (or worse) than others. 

FODMAPS are carbohydrate components found in certain plants.  FODMAPS”  is short for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols.   FODMAPS include fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, and polyols.

The strict phase of AVOIDING high FODMAPS foods is  ~6-8 weeks. After that time–tolerable amounts are gradually brought back into the diet. (The healthy bacteria in the gut need SOME of these FODMAPS components for nourishment–to do their work in our intestines!!!) Consider consultation with a dietitian trained in this modality.

 NOTE:  A group of polyols that bothers MANY people are sugar alcohols, often used as a sugar substitute–particularly in items like “diet candy” and “protein and energy bars.”   Mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, and glycerol (glycerin) can be beneficial for blood sugar,  but may wreak havoc in the intestines!!!

For FODMAP FOODS ALLOWED and FOODs TO AVOID, see dietitian Kate Scarlatta’s CHECKLIST at:  http://blog.katescarlata.com/fodmaps-basics/fodmaps-checklist/

Also helpful is Stanford University’s FODMAPS Lists  @  http://stanfordhospital.org/digestivehealth/nutrition/DH-Low-FODMAP-Diet-Handout.pdf   

Consider taking PROBIOTICs, if you have been on prolonged or repeated doses of antibiotics.  Antibiotics kill “bag bugs’, but eliminate some good bacteria as well.   The lost “good bacteria” need to be replaced.  Beneficial bacteria also need to be replaced if you have experienced acute or chronic diarrhea episodes from stress or infection.  (Antibiotics: ANTI-Life.  Pro-biotics  FOR LIFE)

***Some researchers are beginning to believe that MICROORGANISMS      (bacteria, fungi, viruses)  IN OUR GUT (intestines in particular) MAY ALSO BE KEY PLAYERS in HEALTH ISSUES such as OBESITY, DIABETES, SOME KINDS OF CANCERS, and some  AUTO-IMMUNE-MEDIATED DISEASES.***  For more on this subject, check out an excellent article: “The Microbiome: Meet the Trillions of Tiny Allies that Call your Body Home”  by Deborah Halber in Tufts Nutrition magazine,  9-2013  http://now.tufts.edu/articles/microbiome

 NOTE: There is controversy re:  how effective probiotics are, although there is more agreement on their efficacy in  children’s diarrhea, “traveler’s diarrhea”, and as a treatment during and after prolonged antibiotic usage. (Contact your pediatrician prior to starting probiotics treatment for children or infants.)

Probiotics requiring refrigeration are believed to be more potent than those   that are shelf stable.  However, many folks report good results with shelf-stable, store-brand, less expensive products. 

IF TRAVELING: Purchase shelf-stable probiotics packaged in single, sealed       packets—to prevent moisture from getting into them.

 WHAT are MOST BENEFICIAL STRAINS of Probiotic Bacteria?

A major controversy regarding usefulness of probiotics is related to the fact  that some probiotics never make it past the acid and bile of the digestive process– to attach to the large intestine walls!

Two strains receiving strong scientific support are Bifidobacteria Infantis in the  product ALIGN and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG  (in CULTURELLE).  However,  both products contain only one strain of bacteria. Other experts believe we should seek brands that contain at least 4 strains—for the possibility of a variety of beneficial strains repopulating the intestines.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/478941-align-probiotic-side-effects/

http://www.advancednaturalmedicine.com/detoxification/choosing-a-   probiotic.html

 SUGGESTION: MEET with a specialist (MD, nutritionist, nurse, chiropractor, or naturopath who specialize in gastroenterology) for practical advice use of probiotics.  Practitioners with an expertise in Functional Medicine can be especially helpful in this regard.

 GENERAL Recommendations for taking probiotics:

  • 3-10 billion CFUs dosage/day for general health and prevention. 
  • 20-40+ billion CFUs/day for more severe intestinal health issues. 
  • Larger amounts, like 50-80+ CFUs/day are recommended for acute situations,  and to replace organisms lost in extended antibiotic treatments.  *CFU= Colony Forming Units
  • Choose a product with 4 or more bacteria strains–(refrigerated live cultures, unless traveling)

 If taking LARGE amounts: do so ONLY under a professional care provider’s direction.  Make sure there are no other gastrointestinal issues that need investigation.               

Note on Pre-biotics:

Prebiotics come from undigestible carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides.  The oligosaccharides remain in the digestive tract, stimulating growth of beneficial bacteria. Sources include fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOSs)   may be taken as a supplement or added to foods.

The thinking is: prebiotics will help nourish the probiotics and keep them viable.              http://nutrition.about.com/od/therapeuticnutrition1/p/pro_prebiotics.htm  “Why You Need Probiotics and the Prebiotics that Feed Them” by Shereen Jegtivig, updated     September 8, 2013

***Many experts recommend taking prebiotic/probiotic blends.  HOWEVER,  folks who have trouble with high FODMAPS foods may do better with simple probiotics.  Prebiotics may cause excess gas, bloat and discomfort.***

 NOTES:

  • Some Over-the-Counter (OTC) products can be helpful for constipation.  Metamucil, Psyllium powder,  Benefiber, Dulcolax, and Miralax are examples. 

***DISCUSS USE WITH YOUR MD or HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.  DO NOT RELY on LAXATIVES as a LONG-TERM CURE  for CONSTIPATION.***    

***LIKEWISE: DO NOT RELY on IMMODIUM as a LONG-TERM CURE for DIARRHEA.***

  • Consider body work, manual therapies, and/or Energy work to move stagnant energies in your body and create a healthy flow. http://www.theinnersourcestore.com/  (website of Donna Eden, Energy    Healer/Teacher—endorsed by Christiane Northrup, MD)
  • Keep your sense of humor intact! 

                                                   SUMMARY Thoughts

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic gastrointestinal issues, know there are steps to take to feel better.   General lifestyle and diet modifications may do the trick.  Allow time to see positive improvements.  It can take a few weeks to really notice major changes; but we often notice signs or hints of improvement within the first week.

 All serious issues: such as an unusual acute episode, or chronic ones that don’t clear up—should be discussed with your MD or health care provider.

 DISCLAIMER:  The information on this BLOG site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before altering your diet, changing exercise routines, starting any new treatments or making changes to an existing treatment. Do not stop medications OR start new products,  without discussing this with your professional care provider

Take all that is given whether wealth, love or language–nothing comes by mistake and with good digestion all can be turned to health.  –George Herbert–

To your gastrointestinal health and well being!

And Happy Thanksgiving!

 Deb and Wendy

 The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!!

 REFERENCES

 BOOKS

  • Campbell-McBride, Natasha, MD.  The GAPS Diet: Natural Digestive Healing (grain-free and gluten-free)
  • Galland, Leo, MD with Lafferty, Helen, MB, MRCPI.   Gastrointestinal Dysregulation: Connections to Chronic Disease  (A Functional Medicine Monograph; technical explanations of gastrointestinal functions)
  • Gates, Donna.  Body Ecology Diet  (healthy whole foods diet for healing gastrointestinal tract, attention to probiotics that occur in fermented foods)
  • Gottschall, Elaine.  Breaking the Vicious Cycle:  The Specific Carbohydrate Diet  (grain-free and gluten-free)
  • Miskovitz, Paul, MD and Marian Betancourt.  The Doctor’s Guide to Gastrointestinal Health: Preventing and Treating Acid Reflux, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diverticulitis, Celiac Disease, Pancreatitis, Cirrhosis, Hernias and More.
  • Mullin, Gerard E., MD and Swift, Kathie M, RD.  Your Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health (recipes included)
  • Prasad, Raman. Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet The Grain-Free, Lactose-Free, Sugar-Free Solution to IBD, Celiac Disease, Autism, Cystic Fibrosis, and Other Health Conditions (Paperback)
  • Richman, Josh and Sheth, Anish, MD.  What’s Your Poo Telling You?
  • Sanfilippo, Diane.  Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle  (grain-free, gluten-free,  and mostly dairy-free)
  • Sierpina, Victor, MD  The Healthy Gut Workbook: Whole Body Healing for Heartburn, Ulcers, Constipation, IBS, Diverticulosis and More
  • Virgin, JJ.   The Virgin Diet. (good book for elimination diet–gluten-free– and weight loss; recipes included)

 WEBSITES/ARTICLES:

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