How Your Digestive Symptoms Can Make You Sick - And 3 Ways To Fix It

Updated: Sep 2

Some of the most effective, scientifically-backed interventions you can do for your overall health are things like eating a good diet, reducing stress, and getting more sleep.

It surprises me then, when I suggest limiting caffeine intake or cutting out junk food how many patients find it hard to believe that its worth it.

The side effects of an unhealthy lifestyle have become normalized. Digestive symptoms are signals that our bodies cannot extract what it needs from our food.

These symptoms should be taken seriously - not just given a band-aid solution of a tablet or a pill.

If you have digestive symptoms like bloating, GERD, heartburn, do not feel like your stomach 'empties' or have a rapid heart rate after eating - you are not digesting your food properly and that can have a cascade effect on the rest of your health.

a bowl full of noodles. text overlay saying are your digestive problems sabotaging your health?

Digestion Basics

Many people have serious digestive disorders but are not aware of it. Taking a simple inventory on basic digestive function is a necessary, but often overlooked, first step toward better health.

Symptoms of a Digestive Problem

  • If you are not having at least one bowel movements a day you are constipated.

  • If you have more than 3 bowel movements per day it could indicate a problem like SIBO, ulcerative colitis, IBS or IBD and should be investigated by your doctor

  • You feel bloated at any time during the day

  • You have acid reflux, indigestion or other GERD symptoms

  • You have to take antacid tablets

  • Stomach pain after meals

  • Headaches or migraines after you eat or as a result of certain foods you eat

  • Rapid heart rate after meals

Digestive Problems & Poor Vitamin Absorption

Any one of these symptoms can indicate a digestive problem (or a more serious underlying condition) that can lead to the malabsorption of certain key vitamins, this malabsorption can impair your ability to make B12 and absorb dietary B12.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for energy production. It is important to note that taking a B complex or even a B12 supplement can still result in a B12 deficiency if your gut cannot properly absorb B12

Genetics of Vitamin Absorption

It is not only your diet that can affect vitamin absorption. Certain genes (like FUT2) can predispose individuals to poor B12 vitamin absorption in their diet. Other gene variants can impair B12 absorption inside the cell.

The MTHFR gene variant can affect a persons ability to convert folic acid into folate which is critical in preventing birth defects. Adequate levels of folate are necessary for the methylation process (affecting detoxification, neurotransmitter synthesis, DNA regulation).

Chronic Deficiency Can Cause Disease

Long term vitamin deficiencies can impair vital processes in the body. Nutrient deficiencies can affect the duration and severity of depression, the development of autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cause other chronic and inflammatory conditions.

What to Do

1. Improve Overall Digestion

The cause of your digestive symptoms will determine the correct course of action. If you have not yet determined the cause of your digestive symptoms there are some quick and easy steps that can mitigate many symptoms of poor digestion like heartburn, stomach pain, and nausea.

Quick Tips to Improve Digestion

  • Drink lemon water in the morning - Every morning, at least 30 minutes before your first meal, have a glass of water with a 1/4 of a lemon squeezed into it. It primes your stomach for optimal stomach acid production.

  • Eat until you are 80% full - Eat until you are no longer hungry, not until you are full. This will allow your stomach to work effectively at breaking down your food.

  • Avoid allergens - If you eat foods that cause you symptoms (like a rapid heart rate, headaches, migraines, stomach pain, constipation or bloating) - eliminate them completely for a few weeks. By eating your food sensitivities or allergens, you are creating low levels of inflammation in your body all the time.

2. Get Functional Medicine Testing

If you have severe digestive symptoms or have been having symptoms for a long time - do not try to guess what condition you have or what nutrients you are deficient in.

Functional medicine testing can determine if your problem is not enough stomach acid, if you are not absorbing your protein, if you have a bacterial infection in your intestines, if you have a toxic level of heavy metals, if you have an underlying autoimmune disease or if you have a food sensitivity. Different causes will require different treatment plans.

Functional medicine testing typically goes through your insurance, is vastly less expensive than getting it done at your doctors office and can be ordered by Dr. Lum for you even if you are out of state. Our office does not 'mark up' testing, the cost of the test is what you pay.

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