Indigestion is a common reaction to food that we all experience. And usually this indigestion is short-lived and we can pinpoint exactly what causes the indigestion . . . too many sugary snacks, eating too late before bedtime, imbibing in a few too many beers, trying to squeeze a couple of extra days from the leftovers in the fridge. We've all been there . . .
But then some of us suffer from indigestion that is constant. Everyday our belly is bloated, cramped, distended. We may experience diarrhea or constipation.
And even worse . . . we can't figure out why we feel this way. Even when we eat "clean" foods and take our daily vitamins, we still suffer the symptoms of indigestion.
Below we explain some of the more common conditions:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, is a disorder of the large intestine. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits. Although IBS can be extremely uncomfortable, it does no structural harm to the intestines.
IBS is twice as common in women as it is in men, and more common in people under 45 years old. There are no specific tests to diagnose IBS, and it is often diagnosed as a result of ruling out other diseases as being the culprit of your discomfort.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is generally under-diagnosed as it can often be confused with IBS. In fact, research suggests that 80% diagnosed with IBS may also have SIBO. SIBO is defined as an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small bowel. In most patients, SIBO is not caused by a single type of bacteria, but is an overgrowth of the various types of bacteria that should normally be found in the colon.
SIBO has been shown to negatively affect both the structure and function of the small bowel. It may significantly interfere with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, primarily by damaging the cells lining the small bowel. Additionally, this damage to the small bowel can lead to leaky gut (when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, allowing large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream), which is known to have a number of potential complications including immune reactions that cause food allergies or sensitivities, generalized inflammation, and autoimmune diseases
Crohn's Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis . . . And More
Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis are all autoimmune disorders, meaning your body's immune system is fighting your body's own healthy cells. In the context of your indigestion, your digestive system is in a constant state of inflammation which leads to discomfort. There are entire books written on each of these diseases and the toll that they take on your body. If you have any of these disorders, then you are well aware of their impact on your daily life.
If your physician has been unable to solve your indigestion issues despite countless medication regimens and various diagnosis from multiple doctors, autoimmune disorders should be considered. We are proud to help those who have been left behind by traditional medicine.
The Traditional Medicine Approach
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, then chances are that your physician diagnosed you after ruling out various other diseases. The next step . . . try various medications to curb the symptoms. You were probably also given vague guidance on dietary restrictions and were left to experiment on your own to find the best diet for how you felt.
The same is true if you have any of the autoimmune disorders that cause intestinal discomfort. While no medication will cure the disease, you were likely prescribed medications to fight inflammation and reduce the discomfort from your body's reaction to food.
And lastly, if you were prescribed with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, then you were once again prescribed medication and offered vague dietary guidance.
How Functional Medicine Is Different
Chronic indigestion is one of the most successful symptoms that we alleviate at the Institute for Functional Health because the treatment is at the core of the principles of functional medicine.
Your body was not designed to chronically suffer from upset stomach. The symptoms you experience are a direct result of the foods and supplements that you are consuming. Even with autoimmune diseases that have no "cure", our intensive lab testing helps to identify those triggers that inflamme your intestines and cause you the discomfort.
While some prescription medications may work for you, the side effects of those medications on other body systems is undeniable. Instead of medication being your first resort, let's get to the root cause of your indigestion and help your body to restore itself.
Often times, patients with chronic indigestion also have other issues such as a lack of energy, physical exhaustion, and an inability to control their weight. This is because digestive issues will also hinder your ability to properly absorb nutrients needed to support your body's other systemic functions.
We look forward to setting you on a path to lead a pain-free lifestyle, without constant stomach ache.