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 as they promote inflammation. Inflammation not only causes gastrointestinal disorders, but is linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, 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. The importance of an intact intestinal lining is in its prevention of chronic disease, namely autoimmune disease. 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 of age, 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.

There are a lot of choices for a person looking for an alternative to today’s traditional medical practice. Naturopathic, holistic, functional medicine to name a few. It is mind boggling trying to sort out the best options when seeking care. After years of traditional treatment for depression, and never really feeling good, I sought out Dr. Broyles for possible alternative therapies. Right from the start, I knew this was the right practice for me. Dr. Broyles takes time to listen to concerns, discusses possible causes and recommends alternative methods of treatment as well as traditional methods. In a few short weeks, I was feeling better than I ever had before. She truly treats the whole person- body, mind and spirit. Since that time, I have referred many people to Dr. Broyles, and they all are extremely happy with her practice. – Roberta K.

* Profile photo by Roy McDowell

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