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Gut health

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Closing your eyes with intention can be transformative. The sound of your breath amplifies in your nose and throat; your senses sharpen to taste, touch, and scent. The external world melts away for a moment as you withdraw into yourself. Your stream of consciousness, now unveiled, reveals the magnitude of thoughts, emotions, and memories you might normally push aside or attempt to silence. Feelings of deep relaxation take hold, and you may even drift into a few minutes of sleep. Whatever your meditative experience involves, the longer you allow yourself to stay in this altered state of consciousness, the more profound the physiological response in your body: from lowered blood pressure to a strengthened immune system and altered gene expression, pain relief and increased energy, reduced performance anxiety and improved creativity. Most impressive is meditation’s ability to target and release stress, a positive shift that directly affects your gut health and the trillions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome.…

Watch Dr. Chutkan as she explains the importance of turning around and taking a look! Exploring the connection between what you put in your body and what comes out the other end should be an open conversation, not a dirty little secret. Hard to pass pebbles may be a sign that you need to up your veggie intake; stuck stools may simply need a little more water to help lubricate their passage; and loose stools accompanied by gas might mean your milk drinking days are over. A bounteous, satisfying stool the day after eating a high fiber meal is your body giving you a high five for doing something right. Making these connections between how you’re living and how you’re feeling is a crucial part of being healthy – and turning around to take a look at what’s in the toilet bowl can add valuable information. So how do you figure…

Collagen has been deemed one of the most popular gut and beauty supplements, found in products ranging from lotions to tonics. With a quick Google search, you can find “proof” that collagen is a useful supplement for a myriad of gut health issues – leaky gut, liver health, IBS, acid reflux, IBD, inflammation, digestive upset, stomach ulcers, and regulating acid secretion – as well as a beauty fix, purportedly improving nail, hair, skin, and teeth health, and even boosting weight loss. But can a supplement really deliver all of these benefits? Let’s delve into the research and find out. What is Collagen? Collagen is the most widely found protein in the body, making up 25 to 35% of all body protein, and is present in our bones, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and even in our digestive organs. While 28 different types of collagen have been identified in the scientific literature, type 1 collagen…

Probiotics significantly improve chemotherapy-induced diarrhea, a common and often severe side effect of chemotherapy drugs, which can threaten the effectiveness of treatment. The study included 291 patients undergoing chemotherapy (Fluropyrimidines and/or Irinotecan specifically) -145 participants received a twice-daily dose of a high potency probiotic powder and 146 participants received a placebo powder twice daily. Treatment began 14 days before chemotherapy and continued 2 weeks following the third cycle of chemo. Results showed successful reduction in incidence of diarrhea (mild to moderate) and in patient inflammatory patterns. European Society for Medical Oncology  Takeaway: This study shows promising results from a high potency, multi-strain probiotic in reducing diarrhea in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Hopefully this will result in a better quality of life, a more balanced microbiome, reduction in sickness and death related to diarrhea, and more effective cancer treatment. However, probiotics are living organisms and can be problematic in immunocompromised patients, including some cancer…

Did you know that it may not be what you’re eating, but what you’re not eating that’s causing your GI distress? Most of us embark on dietary changes by omitting the culprits we believe cause us harm. Whether it’s gluten, dairy, processed sugar, or alcohol, our main focus is usually on subtracting the “bad” from our diets, rather than adding in the “good”. Even my SAD GAS diet encourages omitting those things that most often cause bloating and inflammation – soy, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, alcohol, and sugar. While this subtraction can be an important and necessary step in healing, it’s not the only step, and it may not actually be the most important change to promote gut and microbial health. As a gastroenterologist, I’ve come to realize that in many cases, it’s not what you’re eating, but what you’re not eating that can be at the root of your symptoms. For example, the patients…

Did you know since laparoscopic technique was introduced into popular practice in the 1990s, the number of cholecystectomies (surgery for gallbladder removal) in the US has almost doubled? Laparoscopic cholecystectomy minimized what was a large incision to a few tiny punctures, reduced infection rates, scar tissue, hospital stay, and surgery time, and sped up healing and recovery. But is it an incredible coincidence that just as the surgery got easier, so many more people developed gallbladder problems—or are there additional reasons to explain why people are losing their gallbladders in record numbers? Technological advances in medicine always generate excitement, and doctors don’t always follow guidelines designed to prevent unnecessary procedures. Plus, some doctors believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and so have a low threshold for whipping out your gallbladder, even when the indication for surgery may be murky. If you aren’t asking lots of…

Did you know the recommended age for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is now 45 for the general population (or those at average risk)? The age recommendation (previously 50) changed in May 2018 after researchers analyzed data and found that the rate of new CRC cases is increasing in younger adult populations. This new age recommendation will result in earlier CRC detection and will save more lives. While colonoscopy is the gold standard test for CRC screening and recommended every 10 years between ages 45 and 75 for those at average risk, stool-based tests can also be used, as long as immediate follow-up with a colonoscopy is performed in the presence of an abnormal test. These tests include an annual highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT), an annual highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), and a multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every 3 years. For some, screening is recommended…

Did you know women have longer colons than men – on average four to five inches longer? That may not seem like much but it can cause a lot of extra looping and twists and turns – what I like to call: The Voluptuous Venus Colon. Women also have a wider, deeper, pelvis in order to accommodate a fetus during pregnancy. This means that in women, the colon is located low down in the pelvis, where it has to compete for space with the reproductive organs. Men have a narrower pelvis so most of their colon ends up in the roomier abdominal area, and when it is in the pelvis, the only other thing taking up space there is a very small prostate gland. Men also have higher levels of testosterone, which causes their abdominal muscles to be tighter and stronger. In women, lower testosterone levels means a weaker abdominal wall…