top 10 Gut-nourishing foods

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

The holidays are around the corner. This means that you will be tempted with all kinds of unhealthy treats and comfort foods that may lead to gut inflammation. The good news is that it is possible to eat delicious food while following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and gut-protecting diet rich in gut-nourishing foods.

Your gut health matters. A healthy microbiome and well-functioning gut are absolutely essential for optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients, elimination of toxins, and your overall health. A compromised gut flora may lead to leaky gut syndrome, an underlying cause of many digestive issues and other health complaints, including chronic pain, fatigue, and autoimmune diseases.

Take control of your health and nourish your body with gut-friendly foods that promote well-being. Learn about the best gut-health foods and incorporate them into your diet today.

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

Sauerkrauts

Sauerkrauts mean sour white cabbage in German. They are incredibly common in Germany, my motherland, Russia, and other parts of Eastern-Europe. They are fermented cabbage that serves as fantastic gut-health food. Sauerkrauts are not only rich in fiber but provide they are loaded with good bacteria. They help a healthy gut microbiome balance, promote smooth digestion, and help to prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find sauerkrauts at your local health food stores, grocery stores, and farmer’s markets. You may even make it yourself. I recommend that you also try another powerful gut-friendly food, kimchi, a Korean version of sauerkrauts.

I like to get sauerkrauts in the local store, like Zabar or Fairway, sprinkle it with high-quality olive oil, shred some fresh carrots, chop some red onion and sprinkle with fennel. Takes 5 minutes to prepare and what a great salad to increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables! Bon Appetit!

Yogurt

Speaking of fermented foods, yogurt is another fantastic gut-nourishing food. It is made with fermented milk and is incredibly rich in probiotics. It helps to balance your gut flora, reduce digestive distress, and prevent leaky gut syndrome. If you like yogurt, I also recommend it’s close cousin, kefir, another gut-health food made with fermented milk with similar gut health benefits.

You may find yogurt and kefir at any grocery store. Make sure to buy organic and avoid added sugar and artificial ingredients. If you are intolerant to dairy or avoid dairy for other reasons, you may find dairy-free yogurt and kefir options made from coconut milk or nut milk. These dairy-free options are also fantastic gut-friendly foods. Trader Joy sells delicious cashew nuts kefir, it is delicious and what a great alternative to dairy!

Dandelion Greens

You may remember waving dandelion crowns as a kid. As an adult, you can use green leaves as a gut-health food that grows everywhere in the spring. Yes, the dandelions in your backyard are gut-nourishing free food. Dandelion greens may help to improve gastric motility relaxing the muscles between your stomach and small intestines. It is a powerful cholegogic (stimulates bile production and drainage). As a result, this ubiquitous plant will improve your digestion and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Dandelions may reduce inflammation balance your blood sugar, and lower blood pressure.

Dandelions are versatile and nutritious. You can eat their stems, roots, and flowers. They serve as a beautiful garnish on your salads and dishes and make gut-nourishing tea.

Recipe: Saute green leaves of dandelion in olive oil with onion and garlic. What a great garnish! Remember, more bitter is better for your digestion!

Asparagus

When you think of asparagus, the first thing that comes to mind is that they make your pee smell funny. While it’s true, asparagus is excellent gut-friendly food. Asparagus is a gut-nourishing food that may reduce inflammation, pain, and disease in your gut and body. It may improve nutrient absorption. Asparagus is a fantastic prebiotic food that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut and prevent intestinal dysbiosis.

You may enjoy asparagus steamed, grilled, roasted, sauteed, and baked. It makes an excellent side dish and is fantastic in soups, salads, and baked vegetable dishes.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Don’t confuse Jerusalem artichokes with globe artichokes. Jerusalem artichokes are actually related to sunflowers. They are delicious tubers that are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in fiber and promote the absorption of nutrients. They may help to keep your microbiome balanced and gut inflammation levels low. Jerusalem artichokes may also prevent diarrhea, constipation, and leaky gut syndrome.

You may find Jerusalem artichokes in the produce aisle and try them instead of potatoes next time. You may steam, boil, bake, or saute them, or even eat them raw (shredded) in a salad.

Onions

Onions are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in prebiotics that supports your healthy digestion. They also contain flavonoids and antioxidants, including quercetin that fight free-radical damage. Besides boosting your gut health, they are beneficial for your immune system and heart health.

You may enjoy onions raw or cooked. They add a delicious flavor to most soups, salads, stir-fries, baked vegetables, and other main dishes.

Garlic

When talking about the best gut-nourishing foods, you cannot forget about garlic. As fantastic prebiotics, they have similar benefits as onions do. They are rich in manganese, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. It has a significant antibacterial effect and also works against parasites and fungi, like candida. I use garlic in tablets (Garlic Forte by MediHerbs) as part of the gut flora restoration protocol. If you choose to do raw garlic, then one clove twice a day will give you close to a therapeutic dose.

Garlic is the most nourishing when eaten raw, however, you can enjoy its gut-health food properties when it’s cooked as well. If you choose to cook garlic, first crush or chop it and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to activate its beneficial gut-healthy enzymes before cooking. You may add garlic to your soups, salads, and favorite dishes.

Seaweed

Seaweed is also referred to as a sea vegetable. It is a form of algae that I recommend you to try as a gut-nourishing food. Seaweed is incredibly rich in antioxidants and fiber. It may help gut flora balance, promote gut health, and aid digestion. Seaweed is full of polysaccharides that help the production of short-chain fatty acids that protect and feeds your gut cell lining.

Add seaweed flakes to your salads and meals. Try nori snack as a crunchy treat. Be adventurous and enjoy a seaweed salad.

Pineapples

Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that is also powerful gut-nourishing food. They are rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps your digestive system by breaking down protein from large food molecules into smaller, more digestible peptides. Bromelain in pineapples, if eaten on an empty stomach, also helps to reduce pain and inflammation, including gut inflammation. As a result, it may help to promote a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find pineapples at any grocery store or health food store. You can eat it as it is, or as part of a fruit salad, salad, vegetable stir-fry, or pineapple salsa. Make sure to eat it fresh and avoid canned pineapples that are full of added sugar.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is one of the best gut nourishing foods. It is a nutritious clear liquid made from brewed bones and connective tissue. It is a fantastic source of collagen, glutamine, and amino acids that may help to reduce gut inflammation, maintain a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome. Besides being a delicious gut-friendly food, bone broth may also support your metabolism, joints, and immune system.

You can make your own bone broth from organic, free-range poultry, pasture-raised beef, and wild-caught fish bones. You may also find organic bone broth at your local health food stores. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may substitute bone broth for a vegetable broth. While vegetable broth doesn’t have collagen, it is still a gut nourishing food. However, bone broth is a high histamine food, so some people may not tolerate it well. If you are one of them please consult with your functional medicine practitioner and get tested.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing digestive troubles or suspect that the root cause of your health issues is your gut health, as a functional medicine practitioner, I am happy to help. Together, we can identify and address the root cause of your health complaints. With the help of a personalized treatment plan along with some gut-nourishing foods, I can help you to repair your body, and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about my integrative and functional medicine services or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

In the meantime, share this article with your friends and family to help them regain their health with the power of gut-nourishing foods and holistic medicine.


References:

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Defined as fewer than three stool movements per week, constipation can be uncomfortable or downright painful for anyone. Feeling stopped up, bloated, uneasy, full or as though everything isn’t passing when going to the bathroom can distract from your day and negligence can lead to worse health issues.

Constipation shouldn’t be taken lightly. When stool doesn’t pass fully through your digestive system it’s preventing new food and nutrients from fully entering digestive system.

If you regularly suffer from constipation, you’re not alone. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States, literally impacting nearly 20 percent of the population.

Even though constipation is an incredibly common condition, many still don’t know how important it is to obtain a proper diagnosis to treat their condition long-term.

When you’re suffering it’s easy to reach for fast relief through laxatives or stool softeners. But these quick fixes could cause you to overlook an underlying condition that may have future health consequences.

In this six-part series, we are looking what causes constipation in order to find you true constipation relief. In the first two parts, we looked at low hydrochloric acid and low bile blow.

In part three of this series, we are going to look at a condition called dysbiosis – a microbial imbalance in the gut. We will examine what causes dysbiosis, suspicious symptoms that may indicate dysbiosis, and constipation remedies when it’s caused by dysbiosis.

Part 3: Dysbiosis

While nearly everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, constipation becomes a problem when it happens for longer than 10 days or more and when it’s a chronic or recurring condition. How to get rid of constipation completely, depends on correctly identifying the underlying cause.

Dysbiosis refers to when there is a microbial imbalance somewhere in the body, which can be internal or external. In the case of constipation, dysbiosis is referring to an imbalance of your gut microbiota – or your gut flora.

Constipation caused by dysbiosis is most commonly caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) but it can occur anywhere in the intestinal tract where colonies making up your microbiota are thrown out of balance.

Your gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms. Comprised of over 1000 species of known bacteria, which together contain three million genes (150 times more than human genes), your gut microbiota can weigh up to four pounds!

When your gut microbiota is thrown off balance it can lead to a cascade of health problems. Constipation is a common indicator of an unbalanced microbiota that needs attention.

The Importance of Your Gut Microbiota

Your gut microbiota is so important to your overall health, that it is now considered an organ. Interestingly, babies are not born with a microbiota at birth. We acquire this organ as we grow. From the moment you are born, your gut microbiota begins to develop. Colonizing from the birthing process, breastfeeding, and through life exposures. By the age of three, your gut microbiota is similar to an adult’s but it continues to evolve throughout life.

Everyone has a unique microbiota composition but each are composed of similar elements and responsible for the same physiological functions. Some of the most important functions of your gut microbiota include:

  • Aiding in food digestion, especially items your stomach or small intestine haven’t been able to fully breakdown
  • Production of vitamins, in particular vitamins B and K
  • Combat invading microorganisms
  • Maintaining the integrity of your intestinal mucosa
  • Acts as a barrier in the immune system
  • A key factor in an overall smooth digestion process

When your gut microbiota is off balance, you can experience a myriad of uncomfortable and sometimes life impacting symptoms, such as:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms – belching, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, greasy stools, abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Mental fog
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low libido
  • Joint pain
  • Sugar and alcohol cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Skin problems
  • Yeast infections
  • Thrush
  • Poor nail health
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Iron deficiency
  • Malnutrition

When your constipation is caused by dysbiosis – an unbalanced gut microbiota – not only are you directly uncomfortable due to the constipation but it’s probably causing other conditions. Additionally, dysbiosis can also contribute to nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating all the right things.

If you are experiencing constipation, it’s important to find out the underlying cause through a diagnosis. If your constipation is caused by dysbiosis, rebalancing your gut microbiota is the only way to truly treat your condition permanently.

Causes of Dysbiosis

 Since dysbiosis occurs when your gut microbiota has become unbalanced, the causes can be anything that would interfere with healthy bacterial and fungal growth of the gastrointestinal tract, including:
  • Antibiotics
  • NSAIDS use (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates or low in nutritional quality
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Intestinal infections
  • Parasite infections
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Exposure to different bacteria or viruses from overseas travel
  • Environmental exposures such as mold, fungus or heavy metals

If you suspect your constipation is caused by gut microbiota imbalance, this should be taken seriously – make an appointment with your certified functional medicine doctor to accurately diagnose the cause of your constipation so it can be properly treated and relieve your symptoms once and for all.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Dysbiosis

What helps constipation completely depends on the underlying cause. Keeping this in mind, here are several natural remedies for constipation caused by dysbiosis that you can incorporate into your habits immediately, including:

Eliminate sugar and simple carbohydrates (completely – at least for a period of time)

Stop drinking tap water because of the fluoride and chlorine damages the good microbes

Avoid antibiotics whenever possible

Don’t casually take medications such as Advil and Aspirin

Add gut healing foods to your diet such as bone broth, raw cultured dairy, fermented vegetables and variety of root vegetables

These changes are a great way to support a healthy gut microbiota but doesn’t replace the advice of a functional medicine doctor. Your doctor can help you incorporate new habits, foods, and supplements so as to fully heal your gut flora. If you experience long lasting or chronic constipation take care of it early, so you can prevent the myriad of illnesses that can occur when dysbiosis goes unchecked.

When to See Your Certified Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

Treating symptoms does not tackle the underlying cause of constipation. Taking stool softeners or laxatives may work temporarily but can leave you struggling with discomfort and other health consequences down the road. If your constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a certified functional medicine doctor. We emphasize the fact that a functional medicine doctor should be certified because it means they’ve fully completed their training.

If diagnosed with dysbiosis, your doctor will walk you through the Four R Program – Remove, Restore, Repair, Renoculate. Here’s how this program treats dysbiosis:

Remove – First, it’s important to remove everything that’s contributing to your dysbiosis to give your gut flora a chance to heal. This includes sugar, simple carbs, alcohol, antibiotics, and anything else that may throw your microbiota out of balance. This step may require a proper gut flora restoration treatment — “Weed and Seed”

Restore – Through adding dietary changes and supplements, you can begin to restore your gut.

Repair – Through vitamins such as A,C, and E, zinc, fish oil, and the amino acid glutamine you can support your GI tract as it begins to repair itself. In my practice I use healing the gut treatment — “Heal and Seal”.

Renoculate – Probiotics and prebiotics will help your gastrointestinal tract rebuild it’s microbiota and return the needed balance for a healthy gut.

Constipation caused by dysbiosis is a serious health condition that can complicate other areas of your health. Your functional medicine doctor will work closely with you to identify the exact cause of your constipation and create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Click here to read more about treatment of dysbiosis on our blog. 

Click here to view a video about dysbiosis.

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Constipation is incredibly uncomfortable for those who suffer from being stopped up. Often you feel uneasy, bloated, full, as though everything isn’t coming out, and even nauseous.

But constipation is more than discomfort. Stool that doesn’t pass fully through the digestive system actually rots and prevents absorption of nutrients from new food. Defined as fewer than three stool movements a week, it’s the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States.

When you’re suffering from constipation, it seems easy to take over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners – but you’d just be treating the symptom, not the underlying cause.

If you only treat the symptoms, you might continue to struggle with constipation for the rest of your life. How to get rid of constipation depends on the underlying causes, which we aim to help you identify in this guide.

In this six-part series, we are looking at the different causes of constipation in an effort to find you true constipation relief. The first part of the series, we discussed low hydrochloric acid or stomach acid levels, an often-overlooked cause of constipation.

The second part of this series, we are going to take a closer look at low bile flow, what causes it, and what helps constipation caused by low bile levels.

Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Bile is a digestive fluid created by your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Bile is important in digestion and absorption of fat in the small intestine. Bile’s makeup includes:

  • Water
  • Bile acids (also called bile salts)
  • Bilirubin
  • Fats (cholesterol and fatty acids)

Fat is digested differently than carbohydrates and proteins, it requires the help of bile to break it down after it passes through the stomach. When fat reaches the small intestine, it looks like large fat droplets. Your bile then breaks down these large fat droplets, with bile salts, which emulsifies (breaks)  them into fatty acids and monoglycerides. These particles are then small enough to pass through the intestine wall. Bile is also important in breaking down bilirubin (old blood cells byproduct) and cholesterol.

When your liver isn’t producing enough bile or it is too thick to flow freely (peanut butter vs water-like) fat can build up in the intestinal wall and cause slower movements via digestive tract therefore cause constipation. If your constipation is due to low bile flow, symptom treating medications won’t help you in the long run. Identifying low bile flow as the cause of your constipation brings you one step closer to lasting relief.

The Importance of Bile Flow

Why is bile so important? Bringing to mind a yellowish, green slime, it’s a common reaction to think of bile as vile, but it’s critical to gut health and smooth digestion. Bile is important in a number of critical roles, including:

  • Aid in fat digestion and absorption (and some digestion of proteins and starches)
  • Emulsify fats (the detergent-like reaction done by bile salts)
  • Assist in absorption of fat-soluble substances, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Helps regulate your intestinal microflora
  • Encourages fecal matter movement through your digestive tract
  • Serve as a route of excretion of bilirubin
  • Help your liver rid your body of waste products
  • Aid in destroying unwanted organisms that invade the body through the digestive system

When your body isn’t making enough bile, you can experience several uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Acne
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Gall bladder disease (stones and inflammation)
  • Migraines
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Jaundice
  • Poor gut microflora
  • Impaired liver function
  • High cholesterol
  • Greasy, foul smelling, and light colored stools

If your body has low bile flow, your constipation is also probably contributing to nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating healthy. This is why it’s so important to find the cause of your constipation instead of reaching for a quick fix.

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to conditions that may appear unrelated to your constipation. If you experience regular constipation it’s important that you share that information with your functional medicine doctor.

Causes of Low Bile Flow

Since bile is produced in the liver, any impairment to the liver can cause low bile flow. Impairments of the liver include:

  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding in the liver
  • Infection of the liver
  • Liver inflammation
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Additionally, because bile is stored in the gallbladder, any impairment of the gall bladder could lead to low bile flow, including:

  • Gallstones
  • Cholecystitis
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Gallbladder polyps
  • Abscess

Other causes of low bile flow could include:

  • Obesity
  • Having a high-cholesterol diet
  • Diabetes
  • Old age

If you suspect you are suffering from constipation caused by low bile flow, it should be taken very seriously – schedule an appointment with a certified  functional medicine doctor to get your constipation cause pinned down and be on your way to smooth digestion.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Low Bile Flow

Remember, what helps constipation best is determined by the underlying cause. With that in mind, there are several natural remedies for constipation caused by low bile flow that you can take at home, including:

  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice activates the liver and stimulates digestion. Try this in warm water on an empty stomach in the morning.
  • Healthy, raw oils – Fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are good sources.
  • Promote good gut health – By reducing sugar, processed foods, and grains you’ll be encouraging a healthy gut.
  • Foods believed to stimulate bile production – Add garlic, beets, radicchio, kale, endive, arugula, celery, and radish to your diet.

There’s also Betafood and Cholachol, two additional natural remedies that your functional medicine doctor may recommend.

  • Betafood** – This is an extract derived from organic beet root and tops. It mobilizes the bile and transforms it from a thick, peanut butter consistency, to a water-like consistency.

With as much as 10 percent of the population suffering from gallstones, this is a great supplement that helps prevent and reduce gallstones and aid in fat metabolism.

  • Cholacol** – These are purified bile salts, which are great for stasis and gallbladder relief. If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, these are a necessity. You’re missing the bolus bile release that occurs during normal food digestion. Those without a gallbladder suffer from fat digestion and therefore lack nutrients that are fat absorbent such as vitamin A, K, D, and E (and many others).

If you’ve had your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy) and were left disabled in your ability to digest fats and other nutrients, you are not alone. Every year about 700,000 people have their gallbladder removed and require purified bile salts to aid in normalizing digestion.

These foods and supplements are a great way to start supporting your bile production. Be sure to see your functional medicine doctor in the early stages of your constipation issues. By seeing your doctor when constipation starts, prevents low bile production from going untreated and potentially leading to a cascade of conditions.

**To order these products you can call our office at 212-696-HEAL(4325)

When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

As with many conditions, treating symptoms ignores the underlying cause. Additionally, waiting to see your doctor about your constipation can make diagnosis more difficult and the treatment more complicated. If you experience constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your functional medicine doctor.

By working closely with a functional medicine doctor, you can discover constipation remedies that helps stimulate bile production and relieve your constipation discomfort for good.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).
If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.
Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Constipation can be uncomfortable or downright painful if left untreated. You may experience few bowel movements, the sensation that everything isn’t coming out, small and hard stools, a swollen belly, pain or throwing up.

But you’re not alone – an estimated 42 million Americans suffer from constipation, making it the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States.

When you experience constipation, it may seem like a good idea to reach for fast relief like a stool softener or other common constipation remedies such as prune juice – but these are usually just a quick fix that doesn’t solve the underlying cause.

If you want long-term constipation relief it’s a good idea to get to the root of what’s causing your chronic constipation.

There are a number of causes of constipation, which we are going to address in throughout this six-part article series. First, we are going to take a closer look at low hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach – an often-overlooked cause of constipation.

Part 1: Low Hydrochloric Acid

Your stomach acid is made up of three parts: hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl), and sodium chloride (NaCl). Hydrochloric acid is the primary acid in your stomach and it plays important roles in keeping the digestive tract running smoothly. Often, stomach acid and hydrochloric acid are used interchangeably.

When your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid, it can cause serious and chronic constipation. Also called achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria, low stomach acid can disrupt several important bodily processes.

The Importance of Stomach Acid

Why is stomach acid so important? Stomach acid frequently gets a bad rap because an overabundance can cause heartburn or ulcers, but it’s just as problematic to have low stomach acid. Your stomach acid is involved in many critical roles, including:

  • Completely digesting food
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Encouraging the pancreas and intestines to produce necessary enzymes and bile
  • Ensuring good absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Activating pepsinogen – a protein-digesting enzyme
  • Helping to kill unwanted bacteria, viruses, and parasites

When your stomach isn’t making enough hydrochloric acid, you can experience an array of unpleasant and sometimes painful symptoms, such as:

If your stomach has low hydrochloric acid levels, you might experience constipation but also nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating a healthy diet. This can make identifying your health issues difficult. In fact, low hydrochloric acid is a condition that is often misdiagnosed or overlooked.

Causes of Low Hydrochloric Acid

Low levels of hydrochloric acid can make you constipated and uncomfortable but it can also be responsible for a cascade of health consequences, which is why it’s important to address constipation with techniques that treat the root cause and not just the symptom.

Understanding some of the causes of low hydrochloric acid can give you clues to help you determine if low HCl is causing your constipation. Some causes of low stomach acid include:

  • Medications – Some prescriptions and over the counter drugs suppress HCl production.
  • Chronic stress – This is when HCl secretion is inhibited by chronic low-grade worry (acute stress may cause overproduction of HCl, which is associated with ulcers).
  • Older age – Your body tends to decrease HCl production levels as you get older.
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiency – In particular, low zinc and thiamine levels can contribute to insufficient hydrochloric acid levels.
  • H. pylori infection – When there’s an overgrowth in the stomach, H. pylori can cause low HCl levels.
  • Processed foods and refined sugars – These foods are mineral deficient and cause inflammation of the stomach, which alters your gut microbiome and can reduce stomach acid production.
  • Chronic illness – Some chronic illnesses have an increased risk of low HCl production.
  • Antacids – Antacids interfere with your acid levels and can be the cause of low HCl production.

If you are experiencing constipation – other related symptoms – and also have any of the above contributors to low hydrochloric acid, you should test yourself for low stomach acid. There are three simple ways you can test your HCl levels at home before you make a trip to the doctor.

How to Test Your Stomach Acid (HCl) at Home

These three easy ways to test for low hydrochloric acid production in your stomach are much cheaper than a conventional HCl test administered by many doctors. Keep in mind a negative test result for these techniques is not an absolute diagnosis. These methods are simply for seeing if your constipation is caused by your stomach’s inability to produce enough stomach acid.

Self-Exam for Low Stomach Acid

A quick method for checking low hydrochloric acid levels is an old homeopathic trick. Take both your hands and find your xiphoid process – the bottom of the sternum where it meets the ribs – marked in red in the image below.

Then, with both hands slide along the rib cage in both directions while pushing in and under your ribs – on your left and right side of your body.

In people experiencing low levels of stomach acid, it’s common for the left side to be more tender than the right side – this area is marked in blue in the image below. It can be so tender it may cause you to jump when you find the right area – if this occurs you likely have low hydrochloric acid levels.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Low Stomach Acid

Another test you can try at home is taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar when you experience temporary symptoms after eating, such as indigestion or upset stomach. If your symptoms are relieved after taking apple cider vinegar, that could be a sign of inadequate hydrochloric acid production.

Betaine HCl Test for Low Stomach Acid

The betaine HCl is another at-home test you can use to check for low stomach acid. Take a betaine HCl capsule during or right before your last bite of a meal containing protein and fat. If you experience indigestion or burning, then you have plenty of HCl and shouldn’t take any more of that supplement. But if you don’t experience any burning, your stomach isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Low Hydrochloric Acid

The best choice of remedy for any individual’s constipation always depends on the underlying cause. If you’ve determined the underlying cause of your constipation may be low stomach acid, here are a couple of changes you can make:

  • Add fermented vegetables to your diet
  • Reduce processed food consumption
  • Increase zinc intake
  • Reduce chronic stress in your life, especially at mealtime
  • Have a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water before each meal
  • Add betaine HCl supplements to your diet

These are a couple of remedies that may give you constipation relief. But if you continue to struggle with constipation, you should see your doctor so you can have a comprehensive diagnosis made as early as possible.

When to See Your Doctor for Constipation

As with many conditions, using temporary fixes that relieve symptoms only prolongs the underlying issue. Waiting to treat your condition can cause complications and make it more difficult to treat. If you are experiencing constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, or if one of the three at-home self-tests for low stomach acid appears positive, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

There is a myriad of ways to treat low hydrochloric acid levels naturally. By working closely with a holistic physician, you can restore balance to your stomach and relieve uncomfortable and widespread symptoms.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

L-Glutamine for Gut Strength

L-Glutamine for Gut Strength

What is L-glutamine?

L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (protein building block) in the body; as such, it has a wide range of functions. Critical for removing excess ammonia (a common waste product in the body), glutamine supports the immune system, muscle and organ growth and repair, as well as brain and digestive functions. It’s also been shown to protect against the breakdown of the mucous lining in the gut. Most glutamine is stored in muscles, followed by the lungs, where much of this protein is made.

On a typical day, our body makes enough glutamine to meet ordinary needs. However, when we’re under stress (emotional or physical – from heavy exercise to mental illness, injury or surgery), we may not produce enough glutamine to address the stress hormones flooding our body. That is when taking a supplement comes into play. Additionally, a glutamine supplement is often helpful for individuals with medical conditions such as GERD, inflammatory bowel disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, where their glutamine levels may be consistently low.

L-glutamine in Supplements

L-Glutamine supplements are usually in pill form, but you can also find a powder version which should be mixed with a cool liquid. It’s critical to remember: always use cool, never hot foods or liquids. Heat destroys glutamine. Unless otherwise recommended and supervised by your health practitioner, a glutamine supplement is not recommended for children under age 10 or for people with kidney or liver disease, or a history of seizures. Proper dose is crucial to how well L-glutamine works and it should be taken on empty stomach. Always consult with your holistic practitioner before adding a supplement such as glutamine to your diet.

 

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to improve your nutrition. In her holistic health practice, she uses lifestyle modification, herbal and food based supplements to address the root cause of your medical symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and holistic health and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

 

 

References:

  • University of Maryland CAM Database. “Glutamine” Accessed on October 4, 2016: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/glutamine
  • Rapin, Jean Robert, and Nicolas Wiernsperger. “Possible Links between Intestinal Permeability and Food Processing: A Potential Therapeutic Niche for Glutamine.” Clinics 65.6 (2010): 635-643. PMC. Web. 4 Oct. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898551/
  • Larson, Shawn D. et al. “Molecular Mechanisms Contributing to Glutamine-Mediated Intestinal Cell Survival.” American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology 293.6 (2007): G1262-G1271. PMC. Web. 4 Oct. 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2432018/
  • Weitzel L, Wischmeyer P. “Glutamine in Critical Illness: The Time Has Come, The Time Is Now.” Critical Care Clinics. 2010;26(3).
Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

Here is evidence that our health depends on who we host and what we grow in our guts! It is more them then us, so it is better keep “good guys” and get rid of the “bad guys”. The article below explains that gut bacteria Prevotella copri is directly connected to new onset of rheumatoid arthritis in patients.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

By Kristen Schepker

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), one of the most common autoimmune diseases, may be triggered by changes in the microbial composition of the gut, according to a recent study by investigators at New York University.

There is a solid body of research indicating that intestinal bacteria affect the development and the severity of autoimmune disorders localized to the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease (Mathis, D. eLife. 2013. doi:10.7554/eLife.01608).

What’s somewhat more surprising is that gut flora can also contribute to the progression of autoimmune conditions outside the intestinal tract. In one animal study researchers found that autoimmune arthritis could be rapidly induced in previously healthy, germ-free mice by introducing certain pathogenic bacteria into their intestines (Wu, et al. Immun. 2010; 32(6): 815-827).

Following this line of thinking, researchers at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU School of Medicine explored the impact of intestinal bacteria on the “systemic immune response required for joint inflammation.” Specifically, they examined the relationship between specific bacterial clades and rheumatoid arthritis development (Scher, et al. eLife. 2013. doi:10.7554/eLife.01202).

The researchers collected 114 stool samples from RA patients, as well as non-RA control subjects at New York University’s rheumatology clinics. Forty-four of the samples came from patients with newly diagnosed, previously untreated rheumatoid arthritis; 26 samples were from patients with chronic but treated rheumatoid arthritis, and 16 came from patients with psoriatic arthritis, another poorly understood autoimmune condition.

The remaining 28 samples were from healthy people without any form of arthritis.

Unusual Suspect

In performing DNA analysis, the researchers discovered that one specific intestinal bacterium, Prevotella copri, occurred in significantly higher quantities in the fecal samples collected from the new-onset rheumatoid arthritis (NORA) patients than in all other patient groups.

P. copri was present in a striking 75% of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients, and in these individuals, Prevotella tended to be highly predominant compared with other bacterial species.

In contrast, only 21.4% of the healthy controls carried this organism in their intestinal microbiota. The bug was found in just 11.5% and 37.5% of samples from chronic rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis patient samples, respectively.

The NYU researchers further noted that in NORA subjects, an increase in Prevotella species was correlated with a reduction in beneficial microbes, especially Bacteroides, a key genus of bacteria that normally thrive in the human gut, especially in the Western world.

Further exploring the potential connection between Prevotellaand increased inflammatory responses, Scher’s team then colonized a group of mice with a lab-grown P. copri strain.

They found that P. copri colonization in mice induced inflammation in the form of colitis, but not joint disease. They attributed the development of inflammatory bowel disease rather than RA to the fact that the mice were colonized with a different strain of P. copri than the one found in the human subjects.

Cause or Co-factor?

It is not clear whether overgrowth of Prevotella is a triggering event for the inflammatory cascade that ultimately leads to RA, or whether the organism simply thrives in the context of systemic inflammation but is not in and of itself a causal agent.

What does seem clear is that a Prevotella-defined microbiome appears to promote inflammation in the context of a genetically susceptible host.

The connection between Prevotella and joint inflammation seems to be a T-cell mediated process.

The authors note that, “In RA, there is increased production of both self-reactive antibodies and pro-inflammatory T-lymphocytes. Although mechanisms for targeting of synovium by inflammatory cells have not been fully elucidated, studies in animal models suggest that both T-cell and antibody responses are involved in arthritogenesis. Moreover, an imbalance in the composition of the gut microbiota can alter local T-cell responses and modulate systemic inflammation.”

It is interesting that mice with genetic mutations that increase the risk of RA-like changes remain healthy if they are kept under sterile conditions. However, if these mice are exposed to certain species of bacteria sometimes found in the gut, they begin to show signs of joint inflammation (Ivanov et al., 2009Sczesnak et al., 2011).

While the new study’s results cannot conclusively implicate P. copri as the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, they do support a compelling argument that P. copri may predispose both mice and men to chronic inflammatory conditions.

A predominance of segmented filamentous bacteria like Prevotella in an individual’s intestinal microbial ecology predisposes to a reduction in the number and the function if of anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells, thus predisposing the individual towards autoimmunity, the authors explain.

Though not conclusive, this line of research open the door to a new realm of possible treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis.

Conventionally, the disease is treated with pharmaceuticals with often severe and noxious side effects. Should further research confirm the connection between P. copri and rheumatoid arthritis, antibiotic treatments or the use of probiotics rich in beneficial bacteria could become viable alternatives.

At the very least, this new line of work points to the microbiome as a previously unrecognized etiologic factor in the onset of a common but poorly understood disorder.

Inflammation and " Leaky Brain" Syndrome

Inflammation and Leaky Brain Syndrome

Very commonly I see patients with significant emotional and cognitive problems that last for years. Either long standing problem with focus and concentration or decreasing memory could be the signs of “Leaky Brain” or increased permeability of the blood brain barrier. It is a highly suspected problem especially in people whose symptoms developed later in life.

Our brain is one of the most protected organs in the entire body and also, it is one of the most important one. The blood that brings nutrients to the brain goes through a protective barrier, called blood brain barrier.

This brain barrier ensures that only substances that can provide some type of functional asset to the brain are allowed through and that the brain will be compromised by invasive substances.

Leaky brain syndrome occurs when this blood brain barrier fails to keep out certain substances. This means that harmful substances are able to carry through the walls and find their way into the brain which can change the way that we function every day.

Quite often leaky brain syndrome is related to leaky gut syndrome. Both conditions are caused by the inflammation. The same factors that cause inflammation in the gastro-intestinal tract, like food sensitivity or imbalance of bacteria, may cause the inflammatory processes in the entire body and cause weakness of blood brain barrier. Once this barrier becomes compromised the brain can fall victim to damage from environmental toxins, like heavy metals, bacteria and more. In extreme cases with leaky brain symptoms one can start to experience major neurological or psychiatric conditions like ADD/ADHD, autism, chronic pain, depression and other mental illnesses.

As it’s fairly common to have leaky brain and leaky gut syndrome at the same time, and it is usually a good idea to focus on the treatment of both conditions at once. A specific diet and life style modification leading to decrease exposure to toxic factors must be implemented in the treatment of Leaky Brain syndrome. We often recommend supplement with omega-3 oil, anti-inflammatory botanicals and neurotransmitter support medication.

Feel free to call our office to schedule evaluation and receive adequate functional medicine treatment for your symptoms. To find a certified functional medicine practitioner in your area go to www.functionalmedicine.org

LGS Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)

Leaky Gut Syndrome or LGS, also referred to as intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the intestine walls becomes thinner, allowing toxins, undigested proteins and other substances penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood, which normally should not occur. As a result, inflammation may occur and symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach aches, food sensitivity/allergy and other bodily pains may arise.

Though the gut is the largest immune system organ in the human body, conventionally trained doctors not always recognize this condition as a cause of many chronic medical conditions and symptoms.

Dr. Elena Klimenko, a functional medicine physician in New York City, helps patients to identify traditionally unrecognized illnesses, like Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). She helps her clients to identify and eliminate the causes of variety of chronic medical conditions.

Learn more about her health now through personal evaluation with Dr.Klimenko. Call at 212-696-4325 to make an appointment or address any questions you might have.

Autoimmune Diseases - A Functional Medicine Approach

Autoimmune Diseases – An Integrative Medicine Approach

As one of the most prevalent and chronic illnesses in the country, autoimmune diseases affect 23.5 million Americans with severe pain, disability, and even death. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health over the last decade now report that more people suffer from this collection of chronic illnesses than from cancer or heart disease. Although these alarming rates continue to rise, there is a lack of awareness that inhibits necessary treatment. Many people affected by autoimmune conditions suffer without realizing their condition is treatable through functional medicine.

Autoimmune disease arises from an abnormal immune response against the tissues and organs of the body. This can be restricted to certain organs, such as the thyroid gland or kidneys, or can involve tissues in different organ systems, such as the basement membrane in the lungs. These harmful diseases arise from consistent exposure to toxins in the environment, a diet void of nutritional value, and the chronic use of harmful medication.

Among the wide variety of treatment options, prevention is the first step to reversing the chronic diseases that arise from autoimmune conditions. Many of the first symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, muscle and joint paint, or simple bodily discomfort can be warning signs of a larger and more complex problem. With simple blood tests, autoimmune disease can be diagnosed at an early stage, giving doctors the ability to naturally balance your immune system before any irreversible damage is done to the brain, joints, thyroid, blood vessels, or other vital organ systems.

As an experienced functional medicine expert, I can assess the numerous factors that can affect your immune system – potential environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, diet, medication, allergies, and sleep habits – to uncover the root cause of your autoimmune diseases. If you would like to get more information or schedule a consultation, call our office at 212-696-4325.

 

Elena Klimenko, MD is New York City’s leading integrative medicine physician, providing treatment for autoimmune disease with an effective approach through functional medicine.
Relieve Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Functional Medicine Treatment From Dr. Elena Klimenko

Relieve Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome With A Functional Medicine Doctor

Your digestive system is one of the most important and sensitive biological systems in the body, critical to your overall health and well-being. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, produces symptoms that are caused by changes in how your digestive tract works. Patients with IBS often have chronic and grouped symptoms, often leading to pain, malnutrition, and chronic discomfort.

With a fusion of contemporary Western medicine and alternative practices, I can create a natural holistic treatment for those suffering from an assortment of IBS symptoms. I believes that IBS is a “garbage” diagnosis that includes variety of “undiagnosed” by conventional medicine conditions. My holistic treatment approach is highly customized and includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations, functional medicine testing to identify the root cause of IBS in each particular patient’s case.

IBS is diagnosed when a person has had abdominal pain or discomfort at least three times a month over the course of three months. The pain and discomfort of IBS may occur with a change in diet, stool consistency, or a major variation in the consistency to relieve one’s bowels.

The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that IBS affects three to 20 percent of the population with most studies ranging from 10 to 15 percent, however only a mere five percent have been diagnosed with the condition. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and is often found in individuals younger than age 45.

Chronic IBS and other gastrointestinal diseases can be detrimental to your health, but natural treatment is available with the help of homeopathy and a functional medicine doctor.

Elena Klimenko, MD provides a personalized and integrative approach to medicine, offering patients a complete and well-rounded care plan for IBS and other gastrointestinal issues.  New patients can click here to fill out an evaluation form and set an appointment for effective homeopathic medical treatment and relief today.