Optimize Gut Health...
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With pancreatic diseases, along with other diseases or problems within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the digestive system is damaged and functions very poorly. Optimizing the health of the digestive system is critical, as many chronic health problems stem from a poor GI system. By improving these elements, dramatic improvement and sometimes healing can be obtained. It all has to do with the Five R’s as referred to in Functional Medicine*. They are as follows:
Removing the “stressors” ( or getting rid of things that effect the GI tract) such as eliminating allergic foods, possible parasites or other bad “bugs” within the digestive system, and ridding the toxins absorbed through food, is the first step in healing the tummy. There can be many sensitivities to certain ingredients, such as gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Many of these sensitivities are unknown, until an elimination diet is followed. Re-placing possible “stressor” foods with those such as gluten-free breads/pastas, rice or coconut flour, quinoa, potato flour, almond or rice milk, etc. may slowly show improving results. Buying organic also eliminates toxins and pesticides used in foods. Sometimes buying organic is expensive, but there is a dirty dozen list that shows what foods contain the most amount of toxins and pesticides. It helps to know which foods are most beneficial to spend the extra money on the organic variety.
After removing the "stressors" and toxins from the system, replacing the digestive enzymes and acids that may be lacking from illness, a compromised diet, or other factors, will help to aid in proper digestion and absorption of the nutrition needed in the body. This can be done through supplements and medications.
Balancing the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract is essential to good gut health. Taking probiotics and supplements that contain the good bacteria, along with consuming prebiotics, re-build the healthy balance needed for optimal digestion. A pretty good explanation of both probiotics and prebiotics can be found here. Some food examples that also contain the beneficial bacteria of pro/pre-biotics are GHEE butter (easier to digest than regular butter), Kefir, and even garlic.
Repair the lining of the GI tract by supplying it with key nutrients that are often depleted in digestive diseases. Take extra vitamins and supplements such as multivitamins with antioxidants, fish oil, minerals such as zinc and manganese, and B-complex vitamins. Adding super foods to the daily menu can also provide high concentrations of crucial nutrients.
Finding a balance in life to care for the stressors - both the physical and emotional - affects the ability to heal. Paying attention, making positive changes in lifestyle, and allowing time for adequate sleep and exercise, all make a difference.
* Note: Functional Medicine ...“Improving balance – in the patient’s environmental inputs and in the body’s fundamental physiological processes – is the precursor to restoring health and it involves much more than treating the symptoms. Functional medicine is dedicated to improving the management of complex, chronic disease by intervening at multiple levels to address these core clinical imbalances and to restore each patient’s functionality and health.”
Talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention plans that can care for complex chronic diseases involving your digestive system. By integrating traditional western medicine with prevention-centered medicine, and treating your complex systems as a whole - you may be able to optimize your health and prevent future complications and illnesses.