GI ISSUES: CANDIDA, CHRONE'S DISEASE, IRRITABLE BOWEL, LEAKY GUT
Many of the diseases of our modern world begin with poor gastrointestinal health. Imbalance in our intestinal flora as well as antibiotic use and poor nutrition pave the way for opportunistic infections, inflammation, and breakdown of the mucosal lining of our GI tract. All of these things cause a compounded problem and lead to various outcomes, some of which are reversible and some which are not.
There are many types of yeast, many of them being a normal part of the microbiota in our GI tract in undetectable amounts. Candida species are widely distributed in nature and are considered endogenous and opportunistic infectious agents. In immunocompromised patients, Candida can invade various tissues and organs and can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of candidiasis include depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability, headaches, difficulty in concentration, chronic diarrhea, recurrent urinary symptoms, decreased libido, acne, dry skin, mental disturbances, PMS, MS, SLE, schizophrenia, and increased sensitivities to foods, smells, drugs, and aerosols.
Potential diagnostic methods include stool testing, nutrient analysis with Spectracell, and blood testing for Candida IgM antibodies in case of systemic candidiasis.
There are several vitamins that play a role in the regulation of yeast growth in the body. Iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc levels are all important for a proper immune response. Probiotics in conjunction with various antifungals are often a necessary part of treating Candidal overgrowth in the body.
Crohn’s Disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the bowel, particularly the small intestine, but can affect any area of the GI tract from mouth to rectum. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss but other resulting conditions may include intestinal obstruction, osteoporosis, uveitis, or kidney stones. Malabsorption and fatty stools are common and can lead to progressive fatigue and deterioration of hair, skin, and nail health.
This area of medicine has been highly speculated on with various methods of treatment available. Some potential triggers include food allergies, fast food, sucrose, disaccharides, low dietary fiber, as well as nutritional imbalances. Candida has been implicated in Crohn’s disease as well as low butyrate and imbalanced GI flora.
Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease can often follow blood tests, stool analysis, and symptomatic presentation and is made with barium x-ray and CT scan of the abdomen.
When trying to pinpoint the individual’s triggers, the patient may be placed on an elimination diet, with emphasis placed on eliminating disaccharides. Lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose are the major disaccharides and deficencies are often observed in 30-40% of patients with Crohn’s disease. This may be due to the inability of the body to process these disaccharides, leading to bacterial proliferation in an otherwise sterile small bowel. The byproducts of bacterial fermentation can then further damage the mucosa, decreasing disaccharidase activity even more. Because of this, practitioners may recommend a low-disaccharide diet.
Testing for nutrient deficiency due to malabsorption would be of benefit to patients once they have been in treatment for some time. Replacement of these nutrients would then commence. Food allergy testing would also be advised.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS or spastic colon is a common disorder with symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, mucus in the stool, and constipation and/or diarrhea. Conventional treatment often includes stress reduction and counseling as there is a large emotional component as well as antidepressants, laxatives, antidiarrheal medications, and antispasmodics.
A very important component of this disorder is food allergy. Testing should be done to determine if there are any avoidable triggers. Fiber, sugar avoidance, and peppermint oil are among some of the treatments conventional doctors often exclude.
Also known as intestinal permeability, leaky gut is a result of repeated abuse to the GI lining. This can be due to ingestion of foods a person is sensitive to over a long period of time as well as because of antibiotic use, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, poor diet, and toxin ingestion. Treatments very widely depending on the cause.
The typical leaky gut presentation is a patient that “cannot eat anything” and has reactions to foods they did not used to react to. When food allergy/sensitivity tests are done, they often appear allergic to everything but with the proper treatment protocol they often are able to return to an asymptomatic state.