What’s Bugging You?

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The Importance of a Healthy GI Tract

By Dr. Melissa P. Broyles

Approximately 70% of Americans have digestive diseases or symptoms. As a result, many Americans are living in discomfort and lack vitality. The typical western diet and lifestyle are the main causes of digestive disorders, because they promote inflammation. Inflammation not only causes gastrointestinal disorders, but is linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Optimal health requires good intestinal flora or “bugs” (microorganisms that live in the digestive tract) and an intact intestinal lining. Intestinal flora play a critical role in vitamin and neurotransmitter synthesis, immune health, metabolism, and they help maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining. An intact intestinal lining is important, because it prevents autoimmune diseases. When the integrity of the intestinal tract is compromised it can result in systemic (widespread) complaints, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms.

As proper nutrition is paramount for promoting health and preventing disease, digestion and absorption of nutrients are equally important. Stomach acid, bile acids, and pancreatic enzymes are key components in digestion. Studies have shown that the production of stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes decrease with age; and in people over 60 years, low stomach acidity was found in over half of the subjects. Proper absorption of nutrients is dependent upon good intestinal flora and an intact intestinal lining without inflammation.

So, how can you determine what’s bugging you? A comprehensive stool analysis can assess the status of:  Intestinal inflammation, pancreatic enzymes, bile acids, good and bad intestinal flora, and the metabolism of nutrients. A urine test can assess the integrity of the lining of the intestine. Most insurance companies pay a good portion of the costs for these tests.

The 5R Treatment Plan is used to restore digestive health, alleviate symptoms and treat autoimmune disease. First, it’s important to remove pathogens (bad bugs), food allergies and medications that may be causing disruption in the gastrointestinal tract. Second, it’s critical to replace stomach acid or digestive enzymes if there is a deficiency. Third, reinoculation with probiotics (good bugs) is essential.  Fourth, it’s vital to repair the lining of the intestine with diet, omega3s, anti-oxidants and other supplements when necessary.  Lastly, it is of utmost importance to rebalance the nervous system by discussing stress reduction techniques.

If you are interested in a personal gastrointestinal tract evaluation, please call my office at 610-459-3773, or visit              www.drmelissapbroyles.com.

“I have been a patient of Dr. Broyles for over a year now, and have found her to be a kind and concerned professional. I have been having trouble with my weight since I was a child. Over the years I have gained and lost more weight than I could count. At 67 I was heavier than I had ever been in my whole life. It didn’t seem to matter what I did to lose weight I still kept getting heavier. In February of 2013 Dr. Broyles asked me if I was really serious about losing weight; I told her if I don’t do something I was fearful of death. At that time she began to work with me on a weight management and proper eating program. I have lost 25 pounds since I’ve started eating properly. I feel much better and stronger. The swelling in my legs is all but gone. I was getting varicose veins around the ankles and starting up my legs. They are disappearing. Blood pressure is down. Sugar is down. Cholesterol is down. My clothes fit better and I feel better. I am happy . . .”  ~ Bob V.

“I was tired of being treated for each symptom and not as a whole person. I thought that the few issues I have could be interconnected, like my migraines and hormonal issues such as night sweats. I wanted to see an Integrative physician who would address all of my problems. I have been seeing Dr. Broyles for four months and can honestly say that I have not felt this well in a long time. I am now off of my blood pressure medication, I am on vitamin supplements, and we are addressing my hormonal imbalance. Dr. Broyles listens to all of my concerns and tries both conventional and alternative solutions. She is very patient and spends a lot of time both listening and explaining what could be wrong, and how to address the issues.  Her office is warm and relaxing, and is conducive to healing.  I am very happy that we have started this relationship.”  ~ Maria M.

* Profile photo by Roy McDowell


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