Abdominal Pain

30 Day Group Gut Repair / Anti-inflammatory “Cleanse” – Repairvite Program

“All disease begins in the gut.”  That quote has been referenced as far back as the times of ancient Greece, and it is supported by more and more modern research every day.  The surface area of the digestive system is enormous.  It is estimated to be between 30-40 square meters which is about the size of a tennis court.  Inflammation along the course of these organs may not even be noticeable as far as frank symptoms go, but that does not mean that it is not impacting your entire body.  Inflammation in the gut will always cross into the blood and impact all other systems in your physiology.  There is a strong gut/brain interaction for example.  An inflamed gut = and inflamed brain.  But the correlations do not stop there.  All major health concerns can have inflammation at their root.  Cancer, Autoimmune disease, Neurological decline, Diabetes, Arthritis, Obesity, Heart disease, etc. all have their roots with inflammation.  So lower inflammation in the gut and lower inflammation in the body at the same time.
The focus of this program is not actually to “cleanse” the body per se.  The term “cleanse” in my opinion is a very loaded word.  For some people it means being married to your toilet for several days.  For others is means detoxing the liver.  This program does not directly do either really.  It does involve a ton of fresh veggies, dark greens, berries, fruits, clean meats and healthy fats.  It is designed to dramatically reduce the amount of inflammatory foods that commonly irritate a person’s gut.   Eating this way will indeed be “detoxing” however.  This program involves foods which are very dense with nutrition. 

So what are inflammatory foods?  Well interestingly inflammatory foods are often times the foods we eat most often!  Grains for example have a tendency to be inflammatory for most people.  Now I know that goes against all of our training.  Whole grains are healthy right?  Well in some cases and in some people yes…  But it just so happens that of all the food sensitivities out there grains are at the top of the list!  And this is aside from the fact that all grains tend to elevate Insulin levels which is inflammatory all by itself.  Dairy is another high sensitivity food.  So the thrust of this program is to eliminate as many of the most commonly inflammatory foods as possible as step one of the process.  (The second step is supplements which I will discuss below.) 

The second dietary concept that people need to be aware of is that this is a program that involves quite a bit of animal protein.  (Sorry to any vegetarians reading this.)  The diet plan is basically a modified “Paleo Diet” which involves plenty of animal protein, lots and lots of veggies, most fruits, higher than normal intake of fermented foods, and a lot of healthy fats.    All grains, dairy, soy, eggs, nightshade plants (potato, tomato, eggplant, and peppers), nuts/seeds, & beans/legumes are all on the NO-NO list for the full 30 days.  (Among a few other things.)  I know that it sounds like a lot is missing, but people can live this way forever.  You would not be missing out on any nutrients and you will not starve!  The emotional loss of the comfort foods we all enjoy is the worst of it and that passes. 

The second part of the program and one that is not to be forgotten is the supplement part.  It is one thing to avoid all of the potentially irritating foods, but it is another thing to provide compounds shown to reduce inflammation and which work to rebuild the lining of the digestive tract.  Used together we have a very powerful gut repair and systemic anti-inflammatory program.  For the supplement part I choose to use two formulas.  The first formula is the backbone of the program which is the Repairvite Powder itself.  This powder is high in L-Glutamine which is widely known for healing the gut.  But it also contains Licorice Root Extract, Aloe Vera, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, and other botanicals and compounds which all show benefit to the digestive tract.  The second formula is just a good high dose probiotic called Strengtia.  On this program you will consume 120 billion probiotic bugs per day.  That is a good healthy therapeutic dose which can help the digestive system in many ways.  As a third formula, for those who are interested, we can add in a formula for what I call a “killing spree.”  This is a formula called GI-Synergy which combines herbs and compounds to help eliminate Parasite, Yeast and Bacterial overgrowth.  I can discuss this on an individual basis.  These are strong herbs so I did not want to include that in the program for everyone.  If you have questions about this let’s talk in person.  The cost of the Supplements comes to $199.37 for the month.  ($80 extra for the GI-Synergy)

Think of this program as a vacation from many of the things in your diet that might be working against you!  It can be a struggle and there will be difficult parts, but that is where the group comes in.  We are all here to support each other…  Me included!  I will be doing this program along with the rest of you.  And we can all leave comments and questions for the group on a group forum.  It is important that we all interact with each other.  I will also be holding a pre- and post-meeting for those who are interested and/or in the area.  I think that it would be great to have a little potluck gathering in the last week of the program together for our closing meeting.  We can all bring in our favorite Repairvite-friendly foods to share!  I am asking for $225 even to take part which covers the supplements as well as the time and support that I will provide throughout the program.  I look forward to sharing this experience with you and being there for you all.  See you soon!

The SIBO Curse

Have you ever known anyone who no matter what they eat they blow up like a balloon and suffer painful and uncomfortable gas and bloating?  Perhaps you even experience this yourself?  You may have been to every doctor in town and tried every probiotic with no avail.  A lot of your friends, who pay attention to natural medicine, all feel that you most definitely have the dreaded candida (yeast) curse!  I end up hearing so much about candida from my patients that it is surprising really.  So you go on a radical diet, take probiotics and a bunch of anti-candida herbs.  Nothing works.  And in fact you think that it even might have made you worse!  Okay, what already?  What could be causing so much discomfort?

Perhaps it is SIBO…  Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.  But what in the world does that mean?  Simply put the small intestine should contain virtually little to no bacteria.  The primary location for bacteria along the digestive tract (respectfully speaking… bacteria is of course just about everywhere) is in the large intestine/colon.  When these bacteria in the small intestine overgrow they end up breaking down carbohydrates and fibers too early in the process and produce gas in the wrong compartment!  When this happens in the large intestine the gas can pass rather easily, though not always conveniently of course.  Like on a plane, or in class, or on a first date…  But I digress.  J  But if this takes place in the small intestine that gas will get trapped and build up causing bloating and pain in a lot of cases.  The most common symptom associated with SIBO is frequent bloating after meals.  And this bloating can often be described as looking something like pregnancy!  The tummy can quite literally be round and firm.  There can also be either constipation or diarrhea which may differ from person to person.  In fact the typical “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (IBS) condition may actually be due to SIBO!  I have heard all too often where a patient was diagnosed by their medical doctor with IBS and given acid reducing medications, case closed.  Did this therapy in fact help?  No!  That is why they found my office after all.  In fact I would argue that the therapy actually made them worse.  I will go into some of the factors leading to SIBO below so that you can better understand how and why each case could be different.

One of the most common reasons for SIBO to develop is low stomach acid.  This is more common than you know.  And this is something that can easily be induced with both prescription and over the counter medications.  Know anyone who parks themselves next to an economy sized bottle of anti-acid tablets?  I do.  These people are neutralizing their stomach acid.  Aside from digesting the food, stomach acid is also responsible for sterilizing the first section of the small intestine.  If this does not occur bacteria can grow there and lead to SIBO!  So I urge you to think twice when someone tells you to cover up your digestive symptoms with acid reducing medications.  I recently went to see a gastroenterologist for something that I was experiencing and wanted a medical opinion about.  They found that it was a mild hiatal hernia and he then prescribed acid reducing medications.  I told him I might try a short trial, but that I didn’t like the idea. (I decided not to.)   I was surprised to hear his reply, “Yeah, they aren’t very good for you.”  It is kind of like any woman with hormone concerns who always gets put on birth control pills.  Most everyone with any digestive concerns almost always get put on acid reducers!  But they may just be leading to larger problems in the end.  If you choose to go this route, please do your research and proceed with caution! 

Another very common situation that can lead to SIBO is poor neurological function.  The gut, like everything else, is stimulated directly by the brain via the Vagus nerve.  If there is damage to this nerve, or even if there is a decline of overall brain function the stimulation to the gut will be hindered.  (Poor brain function will lead to poor Vagus nerve activity and therefore poor gut stimulation.)  This impacts blood flow to the area and certainly the functioning of the various valves sealing off the different compartments of the intestinal tract which can all lead to bacterial overgrowth.  This is something that you see a lot in the elderly who often times suffer from advancing neurological decline.  But rarely does anyone ever make the link between their bloating after meals and their neurological status.  But pay attention.  The next time you talk to someone of advanced age with neurological decline see if you can find out if they are digesting their food well. Most are constipated and bloated.   In these cases simply “fixing the gut” will not get very far.  Brain support is critical for them and in some cases all we can do is stop the progression.  If enough nerve damage has occurred that may just be how it will be going forward.  We can however support the condition to reduce discomfort and make eating a bit more enjoyable while not being so scary.

Lastly I wanted to talk briefly about “IBS” while I am at it because it is a very commonly thrown around diagnosis.  I personally take offense to a diagnosis like this because it is nothing more than a description of a set of symptoms.  There is nothing in that “diagnosis” that tells us anything about the root condition!  An irritable bowel can be from a lot of different things.  But regardless this condition often involves constipation and/or diarrhea.  Interestingly in the SIBO spectrum of disorders depending upon the type of bacteria that is overgrown in the small intestine there can either be Methane gas or Hydrogen gas produced by the bacteria present.  Methane tends to decrease intestinal motility leading to constipation and Hydrogen tends to increase motility leading to diarrhea.  So is the proper therapy for these conditions acid reducing medications (which can lead to bacterial overgrowth), smooth muscle relaxants (which can lead to poor valve control in the digestive tract leading to translocation of bacteria from large to small intestine), or something like laxatives/Imodium to quell the symptoms?  Well perhaps that is the way you prefer to go.  But perhaps steps could be taken to address the specific underlying mechanism at play.  Is it low stomach acid?  And if so why?  Is the Thyroid working properly?  Are there medications involved that are working to lower the acid production?  Are there infections in the gut which may be impacting acid production? Or is there perhaps a neurological condition leading to these symptoms?  Was there head trauma? Or is there any developmental disability?  There might even be physical reasons like an abdominal injury or surgery.  Each case is a little different. 

So what can be done?  First like I described above it is important to understand the specific mechanism involved in each case.  That means it is important to find a practitioner who is knowledgeable about the differences and how to pick up on the subtle signs and symptoms of each.  Second you must work to nutritionally support the small intestine itself by providing compounds needed by the intestinal cells to thrive.  Digestive enzyme support is also essential to help the body break down the food more efficiently before the bacteria can get ahead of things.  It is essential to provide good probiotic support to promote optimal bacteria distribution in the gut but make sure that they do not contain any prebiotics (bacteria food).  Most probiotics contain prebiotics which are generally great but not with SIBO!   And lastly in some cases a person may need to work on the neurological function associated with the gut.  There are some tricks for stimulating the Vagus nerve and I am happy to share them with you in person sometime. 

In closing I want to share just a few statistics from a couple of well-respected medical journals.  (Journal of Clinical Gastroenterol & Gastroenterology Hepatology).  The following list are percentages of certain groups of people who show positive for SIBO:
  • ·         66% of patients with Celiac Disease
  • ·         53% of patients who use antacid medications
  • ·         78% of patients who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • ·         33% of patients with chronic diarrhea
  • ·         90% of alcoholics

The consequences of long term SIBO are many.  Over time this can lead to permanent nerve damage to the digestive tract.  Food sensitivities become more and more common. It can be argued that all chronic disease can arise from chronic inflammation in the gut.  SIBO is one way to foster such inflammation.  It has been with us for a while but with the widespread use of antacid medications, poor diets, and poor physical health in general the condition is only getting worse.  I urge you to take your symptoms of gas and bloating seriously.  It isn’t just uncomfortable.  Your body is working hard to try and tell you something is not right.  I am happy to schedule a consultation to go over some of your concerns.  I am here for you.  Call on me anytime!