It seems that today, a lot of people suffer from poor digestion.
Many of my patients experience this – even if it is not the primary reason they come to see me, it always comes up. In addition, more and more people are experiencing what is known as a “food intolerance.” Often mocked by media and the food industry, food intolerances are a real thing. They are not allergies, and therefore will not send someone into anaphylactic shock – but, they cause a myriad of other symptoms. However, food intolerances are not the only cause of poor digestion – poor diet, frequent antibiotic use, stress, dehydration, and hormonal imbalances are a few others.
What I have also learned is that many people who suffer from poor digestion do not know what that looks like. In these cases, they think their digestion is “normal,” but with some questioning, it becomes clear it is not.
Here are some common signs that you may have impaired digestive processes:
- Frequent gas (often foul in odour)
- Bloating/distention in the abdomen (often gets worse throughout the day or after eating)
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Stomach pain/cramping
- Undigested food, mucus, and/or blood in stool
- Lack of clarity and clear-mindedness
- Frequent headaches
- Skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, acne, rashes, rosacea)
- Frequent yeast infections/bacterial vaginosis
The good news is that once your poor digestion has been identified, there are many treatment options.
If a food intolerance is suspected, your Naturopathic Doctor can requisition a IgG Food Sensitivity Test which will identify the foods that are causing your immune system to go into overdrive and create symptoms. An elimination diet is also an option, which involves the elimination and slow re-introduction of foods to identify the offending agents. Other treatments for poor digestion aim to tackle the root cause – is your gut flora out of balance? Then a probiotic and fermented foods may be suggested. Is it stress? Then calming the nervous system is often part of the solution. In many people, the gut lining requires healing, which can be treated with soothing herbs and amino acids. Of course all of these treatments begin with optimizing your diet for healthy digestion and maximum nutrition.
Proper digestion is an essential part of balancing your overall health. Digestive processes are involved in elimination of wastes, cholesterol, and excess hormones. In addition, energy production, healthy skin, mood, and mental clarity are highly associated with our digestive function. If you suspect that your digestion is out of balance, seek the help of a Naturopathic Doctor to identify what may be causing your symptoms and discuss your treatment options.