A healthy digestive system is the critical first step to convert food into life energy. When functioning optimally, the digestive system keeps the body healthy, allows detoxification, and leads to optimal wellness. It also functions as a barrier to potential toxins, bacteria, yeast, parasites, food antigens and large or partially digested food molecules that can potentially aggravate the immune system. In my clinical experience, a number of conditions impacting physical and emotional health result from gastrointestinal problems.
Many diagnostic strategies are available at NBW Medical Center to help guide clinical decisions, address vague symptoms, and treat pre-illness and disease states. These tests are usually covered by health insurance with a written doctors prescription and come from the most innovative, well respected laboratories in the country and the world.
Gluten Allergy and Sensitivity Testing
Used to help identify gluten sensitivity related to celiac disease and other more “subclinical” gluten sensitivity problems. Provides a guide to elimination diets and means to assess improvements over time.
Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis
Provides a comprehensive, noninvasive diagnostic evaluation of the GI system looking at gut ecology, potential pathogens such as opportunistic bacteria, invasive yeast, and parasites, assesses metabolic markers, quantifies inflammation and ability to digest and absorb nutrients. The test is a 3 day home stool collection and 3 weeks culture/evaluation.
Intestinal Permeability/Absorption Tests
A number of clinical conditions result from either increased or decreased permeability and we use this and other Intestinal assessments to look for the root cause of “dis-ease.”
Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth Breath Test
A breath test that analyzes the fermentation products of bacteria in the small intestine. When first-line protective factors such as acid and enzyme are down regulated, normal populations of bacteria can become excessive in the upper GI tract and lead to immune hyper-reactivity, intestinal permeability, potential nutritional deficiencies, and a host of digestive problems associated with irritable bowel, mood problems, fatigue, yeast overgrowth and exposure to toxic bacterial byproducts.
Urine Organic Acid
Measures urine level byproducts to identify or confirm presence of pathogens (yeast, parasites, aberrant bacteria), dysbiosis, or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
Are you suffering from digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, chronic constipation or diarrhea? Is your immune system over reactive resulting in autoimmune problems, eczema, allergies or food sensitivities to name a few? If so, fermented foods might be exactly what your body needs to feel healthy again.
Fermented foods are loaded with beneficial microbes (bacteria and yeast) that make up our gut flora. Maintaining this population in healthy balance is critical to our health, not only for proper digestion, but also for immune health, detoxification, and many other important bodily functions.
To put things into perspective the gut flora that lives in the human digestive system outnumbers the cells in our body by 10 to 1. The average probiotic (bacteria supplement) contains 12-50 billion bacteria per serving, but properly fermented foods can contain trillions of microbes per teaspoon. The equivalent of an entire bottle of probiotics!
Four Facts about Supplementing Gut Flora
- A diverse and plentiful population of digestive flora is essential for staying healthy.
- The proper balance of microbe strains protects against the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms.
- Most manufactured probiotics (bottled bacteria) do not survive transit through stomach acid because they lack natural protection present in fermented foods.
- Our gut houses 30 trillion microbes including bacteria, yeast and parasites, so more than a few billion are required to make any significant changes.
Five Benefits of Fermented Foods and Healthy Microbes
- Many diseases, including autoimmune conditions, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease as well as others have been associated with an imbalance of gut flora (dysbiosis). Eating fermented foods is the best strategy to reestablish a healthy balance of gut flora, which helps to contain, crowd out, and fight off pathogenic invasions.
- Microbes are also important for detoxification, as they attack, quarantine and neutralize toxins from our food, environment, and pathogenic organisms.
- The microorganisms in fermented foods help us make and absorb vitamins and nutrients, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K.
- Friendly microbes protect the integrity of our intestinal walls, which is essential for a balanced immune system, 80% of which resides in the gut.
- Fermented foods are packed with enzymes, help to balance pH, and increase/improve bowel transit time.
Supplements Versus Fermented Foods
Taking probiotic supplements is great, but as you have learned, the benefits of fermented foods are even better. Fermented foods save money as they are more potent – just one teaspoon of fermented foods can contain trillions of microbes, the equivalent to an entire bottle of probiotics.
Fermented foods are also fairly inexpensive to make at home. All you need are organic vegetables, filtered water, mineralized sea salt, and proper air tight containers. The containers are very important and are the biggest investment, but it is a onetime purchase, and it is well worth it!
History of Fermented Foods
There has been a lot of interest lately on Paleolithic diets, but one thing that many people seem to miss is that archeological evidence shows that lacto-fermented foods have been part of our diet since 1.5 million years B.C.! The “lacto” in “lacto-fermentation”, comes from “lactobacillus” a species of microbe. Lacto-fermented foods have been around since prehistoric times and were consumed by early humanoids before fire was tamed and pottery was invented! Homo sapiens did not appear until 200,000 years B.C. Just from this information alone, we can conclude what an important part of our diet beneficial microbes are, as we have evolved to eat them on a daily basis. Going back to our foundations and feeding ourselves with our symbiotic friends like we have been since prehistoric times can help us effectively treat and prevent many common ailments and diseases. We do not need to resort to pharmaceuticals or think that this is just the way we are. The benefits of fermented foods are a natural way to achieve a healthy gut and support the immune system.
How to properly Ferment Foods
For those with sensitive or over reactive immune systems, the use of a proper airtight container is necessary to avoid mold development. The container not only needs to be free of oxygen but also needs to be able to allow the release of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the microbes. This can be done with the use of an air lock. Burping an airtight container is a common method but this allows oxygen to flow into the container.