We’ve all dealt with the discomfort of digestive issues and symptoms at some point, but when is it an urgent issue to address? What is your body telling you, and how should you address it? Causes of these symptoms and issues could mean you have a serious tumor, obstruction, or internal bleeding. Or, it could mean something as simple as low enzymes and bile production. While the latter might not have any long-lasting, serious consequences if you ignore them, it is important to realize if you are dealing with an emergency or chronic situation.
There are a few symptoms that you certainly want to address immediately. Some of these symptoms are:
- Frequent or worsening heartburn
- Bloody diarrhea or vomit
- Feeling full before eating too much
- Severe abdominal pain
- Distended abdomen
- Combination of several of these symptoms¹
These digestive symptoms could point to an emergency situation. Finding the root cause, then, is important. We want to be sure we aren’t just managing symptoms. We want to support the body in regaining health. Once the emergency is under control, it’s time to take a closer, deeper look.
Are There Less Obvious Symptoms of Digestive Issues?
Many times we are given early warning signs before we reach the point of emergency. Because the symptoms aren’t quite as alarming or strong, they’re often overlooked.
Some more digestive issues and symptoms you should by no means ignore are:
- Stinky gas
- Itchy, dry skin
- Hormone imbalances
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Brain fog
This list could be much longer. People frequently recognize these, but don’t always associate them with digestive issues. The connection between our digestive system and all of our other systems is quite intricate. Especially the connection with the brain. In fact, many mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety also stem from the digestive tract. Many learning and attention challenges our children face are also symptoms of something wrong in the digestive system. Once the inflammation in the digestive system–or other issues–are taken care of, these symptoms improve. The symptoms will often catch your attention, but it’s the underlying disruption of normal digestive function that has largely impactful health consequences.²
The Digestive Process, How It Works (And Why It May Not)
How can we understand the need to diligently support something as intricate as the digestive system? Let’s start with knowing how it works.
The food we consume consists of macronutrients. Organs such as the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder break them down to the usable form our bodies need. A variety of amino acids, enzymes, and vitamins are used in this process. If any one of those are deficient, or the organs aren’t operating to their capacity, you’ll have problems.
For instance, carbohydrates are turned into simple sugars that we use for energy. If they aren’t properly turned into energy, they ferment and are consumed by bacteria, causing bacterial overgrowth.³
Protein is broken up into amino acids, used to rebuild cells, and synthesized into neurotransmitters. If protein isn’t broken down, it starts to rot and putrefy, causing inflammation further down your digestive tract.⁴
Fats are broken into smaller droplets that are essential to living. If they do not get broken into small enough pieces, they oxidize and potentially go rancid.⁵
When these problems occur–the fermenting and becoming rancid and putrid–you get stinky gas. Inflammation in your gi tract or gut leads to the body sending blood and various cells there in an attempt to fix it, resulting in the bloating and brain fog. Each part of the body influences the others. We call this the swiss watch principle.
Could It Be Inflammation Caused By An Allergy?
Sometimes the problem lies in the process; sometimes the challenge is in the food you are eating. For some people, even the healthiest foods can cause the body to react, specifically the immune system. This allergy will affect the digestive process and can lead to inflammation and further disease.
Many people assume that, because they don’t have an anaphylactic reaction, they aren’t allergic to anything. While anaphylaxis is most certainly an allergic immune response, even less dramatic reactions are also allergies. The above mentioned: bloating, gas, itchy skin, and even irritability can be signs of an allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten. The inflammation caused by the immune response, over time, will continue as a chronic condition, leading to ongoing challenges as well as, potentially, worse ones
How do you know which foods may be the culprit? Many of us eat a meal consisting of more than one food, herb, or spice at a time. Reactions to allergens can begin to show themselves anywhere from minutes to 21 days after the allergen was ingested. They can last far longer than you’d imagine, too. Furthermore, most of us don’t eat the same meal every day, meaning the possibility of what the reaction is to becomes an even wider pool. With so many variables at work, it would be very difficult to narrow down exactly what is causing the response and inflammation. That is why we use allergy testing for most of our patients. It gives us a clear picture as to what may be contributing to the digestive issues and symptoms.
The End of the Road
We know this is an uncomfortable topic for many people, but it’s a good conversation to have. Poop can tell you a lot about your digestive system and how it is working. At The Wellness Way we talk about poop. A lot. In fact, we have a whole article about it right here. Poop is an important indicator of the health of the digestive system. It can give us a clear picture as to where the problem may lie and how to support the body to heal. One of the most common tests we use is a stool test. Don’t worry; the collection can be done in the comfort of your own home.
5 Steps to Improve Your Digestion
- Eat healthy, clean, and organic foods whenever possible.
- Get your allergies tested and avoid them.
- Have a stool test done to help indicate where there may be a problem.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
- Get the right kind of exercise.
Proper nutrition and support of the digestive system is crucial to helping the rest of the body function. Get help right away if you have an emergency situation. And if you are looking to prevent an emergency situation, or to see symptoms of digestive issues creeping up, The Wellness Way is here to help. With stool tests and food allergy tests, we are able to help find the source of, and mitigate, many of these issues. Move the candle away from the curtain so you don’t have to call the firefighters; take care of inflammation before it leads to a life of chronic issues. Address digestive symptoms now, before it becomes a much more serious–and expensive–ordeal.
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