by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
When you walk down the “digestive health” aisle of any grocery store or pharmacy, it’s amazing how many acid reducers and anti-diarrheal pills and liquids there are to choose from. Despite what the media would have you believe, constant stomach pain, gas, bloating, and acid reflux are not normal. Your digestive system is trying to tell you something. This digestive health page can show you how to improve your digestive system instead of just masking the symptoms.
Common Digestive Problems
- Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common digestive problem for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the go-to treatment for this is antacids. These are the worst things you can take to treat acid reflux. Why? The reason you have acid reflux is because you don’t have enough stomach acid. That’s right. Your body isn’t making enough stomach acid to properly digest your food and naturally close your esophageal sphincter.
If you “treat” acid reflux with antacids, you further decrease the amount of essential hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which continues to reduce your ability to digest food. Without hydrochloric acid, your digestive system is unable to make pepsin, a necessary compound responsible for the breakdown of protein. Without the ability to break down protein, your body will not get the amino acids you need for your brain to regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
In addition, lack of hydrochloric acid leaves your body open to parasites, yeast, and bacterial infections.
Gas and bloating is another common digestive issue plaguing modern Americans. Chronic gas and bloating can be related to food allergies, low stomach acid, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, parasitic infection, bacterial infection, poor diet or a combination of any of these. Your stomach and intestines may gurgle after you eat or you find yourself passing foul-smelling, embarrassing gas. Another sign of chronic bloating is distended stomach. You’re relatively thin but your gut sticks out like you’re expecting a child. This is usually a sign of food allergies and poor digestion.
- Abdominal Pain
Chronic low-grade abdominal pain is a serious problem for many people. If the pain feels like a band around the lower abdomen, this may be a sign of gluten intolerance. Chronic abdominal pain may also be the result of constipation, parasites, leaky gut syndrome, or chronic candida infection.
Chronic diarrhea is defined as having loose stools for one month or more. Causes of continued diarrhea are wide and varied and may indicate food allergies, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism), intestinal infections, and parasitic infections. While taking an anti-diarrheal medication can help stop the situation in the short term, it is very important to get to the root cause of your diarrhea to avoid further health complications. People who have had their gallbladders removed or who have had gastric bypass surgery may also struggle with chronic diarrhea.
Many believe that having 1 or 2 bowel movements a week is normal. It’s anything but. Since as a society, we don’t spend much time talking about how to have happy, healthy bowels, many of you out there aren’t aware of how miserable yours actually may be. Constipation can be the result of thyroid disease (hypothyroidism), slow digestive motility, dehydration, poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, stress, and certain medications. A healthy person should have at least one or two formed bowel movements per day. If you’re having less, you suffer from constipation.
Gastritis is another name for chronic gut inflammation and the causes can run the gamut from parasitic infection to leaky gut syndrome and beyond. Gastritis isn’t a disease in and of itself but rather a condition that has many causes. Chronic intestinal inflammation may be the result of an H. pylori infection or an undiagnosed food allergy (gluten intolerance).
Helicobacter pylori infection is a common cause of intestinal ulcers. An ulcer is an open wound in the stomach or intestinal tract that doesn’t heal. Another common cause of ulcers is excessive use of antibiotics and NSAID pain relievers.
What Causes Chronic Digestion Problems?
The most common causes of chronic digestion problems are low gut bacteria, low hydrochloric acid levels, parasitic infection, chronic yeast, leaky gut syndrome, and food allergies. Addressing these conditions first before treating them by suppressing symptoms is your first step to finding lasting relief.
How to Improve Digestion Naturally
- Elimination of Cause
To improve digestion naturally, I first recommend you do what you can to find out what is causing your gastrointestinal discomfort. For my patients, I recommend two important tests:
- Alcat Comprehensive Wellness 1-Kit – Tells you exactly which foods and chemicals you might be sensitive to, and how severely. Just take it to the nearest LabCorp office for blood drawing and they pack it and send it off for you. You should receive your results in 7-10 business days!
- Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis x 3 DD Kit – Evaluates for parasitic infection, leaky gut syndrome, and candida while measuring dysbiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, digestion capability, and even a count of all probiotics!
Once you’ve figured out the cause of your chronic digestive problems, you’re that much closer to a permanent solution.
- Dietary Changes
Cleaning up your diet by cutting out the junk and replacing it with whole foods can go a long way in healing your digestion problems. This means dining on foods such as organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as coconut oil.
The type of diet you’ll eat will depend largely on any food allergy or intolerance you may have. There are plenty of non-gluten grains such as amaranth and quinoa that can be eaten in place of wheat-based foods. Lactose intolerant individuals can turn to coconut or rice milk to cut down on gastrointestinal complaints.
If you’ve had gastrointestinal complaints for years or decades, you might need to go easy on your digestive system by eating easy-to-digest foods such as soups, stews, brown rice, chicken, and fish. You might also want to try vegetable juicing. Drinking juiced vegetables gives your body a blast of nutrients your ravaged digestive system can easily absorb. Furthermore, probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt are ideal for people with chronic digestive problems.
Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamins
If you are already taking a multivitamin, you may want to consider stopping it. Many store-bought vitamins are no healthier for you than candy because they contain additives and sweeteners that make them difficult for your body to absorb and make use of. Our formula is superior because it is made from whole food ingredients with no additives or preservatives.
Foundation’s nutrients include:
- Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
- Vitamin C – 500 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
- Vitamin E – 100 IU
- Vitamin K – 50 mcg
- Thiamine – 25 mg
- Riboflavin – 25 mg
- Niacin – 25 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
- Biotin – 200 mcg
- Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
- Calcium – 100 mg
- Iodine – 113 mcg
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- Zinc – 10 mg
- Selenium – 100 mcg
- Copper – 1 mg
- Manganese – 2.5 mg
- Chromium – 200 mcg
- Molybdenum – 25 mcg
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
- Inositol – 50 mg
- Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
- Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
- Rutin – 25 mg
- Lutein – 3 mg
- Boron – 1.5 mg
- Lycopene – 1 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
Diamond Nutritional’s Ultra Probiotic Formula
For patients with digestive trouble, I always recommend a good quality probiotic supplement. A positive balance of healthy gut bacteria helps improve your digestion, fights infection, and eases the elimination process. Also, since 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, your immune system will get a real boost from the right probiotic supplement.
For my patients who want to improve their digestive health, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Ultra Probiotic Formula. Unlike other probiotics, which only contain 1 or 2 active cultures in a low-dose capsule, each packet of Ultra Probiotic Formula contains 225 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) complete with six unique probiotic strains to populate your gut fast to boost your immune system and relieve gastrointestinal discomfort.
These strains include lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus casei, and bifidobacterium bifidum.
Diamond Nutritional’s Bowel Support Formula
For my patients with chronic constipation and abdominal pain, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Bowel Support Formula. It contains a proprietary blend of herbs and supplements designed to improve your regularity without causing dependency.
- Psyllium Husk Fiber – Absorbs moisture and gently flushes waste from the system.
- Psyllium Seed Powder – These mucilage-covered seeds increases your natural intestinal mucous while flushing your digestive system of toxins.
- Rice Bran – Strengthens intestinal walls while bulking up stool and removing waste from the colon.
- Apple Pectin – A strong antioxidant that helps heal a damaged gut and prevent infections.
- Fig – Naturally stimulating, fig is a rich source of dietary fiber.
- Prune –Stimulates natural elimination.
Diamond Nutritional’s Digestive Enzyme Formula
Slow digestion often means a lack of enough digestive enzymes to process and assimilate food. This is why for my patients with chronic indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, and other digestive complaints, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Digestive Enzyme Formula. Though there are plenty of digestive enzymes on the market, they often contain only one enzyme. Our formula goes many steps further with a proprietary blend of ingredients designed to not only provide acid balance but support your pancreas and blood sugar as well.
These ingredients include:
- Pancreatin – Supports a healthy pancreas and stable blood sugar levels.
- Betaine – Balances stomach acid pH.
- Ox Bile Extract – Improves breakdown of proteins and fats.
- Bromelain – Helps your body better break down protein and assimilate nutrients from food.
- Pepsin – Pepsin improves digestion by increasing bile production.
Diamond Nutritional’s Stomach Support Formula
For my patients with H. Pylori and stomach ulcers, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Stomach Support Formula. It contains zinc carnosine that supports the digestive tract and speeds healing. It also contains mastic gum extract to protect the stomach lining and bismuth to inhibit H. Pylori growth. The berberine sulfate hydrate contained in this formula also has strong antibacterial properties that inhibit bacterial overgrowth.
Chronic stomachaches are not normal. Even if you’ve been living with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and pain for years or even decades, there is hope. Your body has a remarkable ability to heal and detoxify itself. You just have to eliminate the source of the problem while healing your digestive system with a combination of the right diet and supplements. Don’t live in pain anymore. Take the first step to lasting wellness today.