Gastrointestinal Diseases

Common Gastrointestinal Issues & Suggested Supplements

Why supplement?

To replace lost fiber and nutrition as modern foods have become over-processed (removed much of the fiber and nutrients) and are high in fat, sugar and other ‘additives’.

We no longer obtain adequate nourishment through our diet unless we make definite, healthy choices.

Bloating and flatulence (gas)

Abdominal bloating is usually caused by the formation of intestinal gas produced by bacteria when they digest materials that cannot be processed in the stomach and small intestine. Passing this gas is the best remedy!!

Otherwise the use of probiotics (L. acidophilus and bifidobacterium) can be beneficial, as well as the herbs chamomile, and fennel, usually taken as warm drink.

Constipation

Bad diet is very often to blame, ie too little fiber or water. It is usually a symptom, not a disease! Flaxseed oil, psyllium and/or bran added to the diet is helpful, as well as cascara, and senna for the ‘harder’ cases.

Diarrhoea

Caused when the small intestine or colon cannot properly remove water from fecal matter. This may lead to dehydration and become serious, especially in the young. If caused by an underlying infection it needs to be diagnosed and treated. The use of probiotics help to restore/maintain the flora of the gut but if dehydration is an issue, fluids containing essential minerals (Na+, Ca++, K+ and bicarbonate primarily) may be required.

Heartburn

Certain conditions tend to bring on heartburn, including ingestion of fattening meals, drinking coffee or alcohol, smoking, being overweight, lying down, or bending over. It is caused by ‘splashing of stomach acid” into the esophagus and if allowed to continue unchecked can lead to erosion of the esophagus and other serious disorders. Certain supplements which help regulate stomach acid including phenylalanine, L-arginine, and flavonoids.

The Inflammatory bowel diseases – Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s – usually a life long disease and is the result of intestinal inflammation which causes disruption to food digestion and absorption. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms range from mild to intense and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and feelings of ‘bloat’. Supplements that may be help reduce the inflammation, therefore reducing damage to the intestinal lining include fish oils, selenium, iron, glutamine, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamin B12.

Ulcerative Colitis – Another inflammatory disease that only affects the colon and may lead to ‘sores’ on the colon lining. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stool, fever, lower abdominal pain, and pain upon bowel movement. Supplements that used to help reduce inflammation or replacing lost nutrients, including copper, beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, and folic acid.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not a disease, infection, or mechanical malfunction – it results from a miscommunication between the brain and digestive tract which causes sporadic episodes of intestinal cramping, bloating and pain, usually after meals. Sometimes the stool may contain mucous. It is thought to effect up to 20% of and made worse by stress or anxiety. Several supplements that may help include evening primrose oil, L. acidophilus, and bifidobacterium, peppermint oil and anise seed.