Category Archives: Gut Health

Up Your Bum With Love

Duck butts in the air

Photo courtesy of flickr.com user Daveybot, used via Creative Commons licensing.

Colon hydrotherapists are individuals that are passionate about intestinal health. These special people have a calling to cleanse, heal and empower their clients from the orifice of the derriere. Who would have thought such people exist, but thank goodness they do.

Colon hydrotherapists are certified health professionals often with a massage license because a colon irrigation will require massage of the abdomen. The role of abdominal massage is to help dislodge trapped and adhered fecal material on the colon wall.

Colon therapy is very effective for constipation. Stool can become lodged on the colon wall for years and can remain like cement.

A series of colon irrigations can free up fecal impaction and help the colon walls to move again.  The issue of constipation can be helped tremendously with this intervention.

The process of colon irrigation is about 45 minutes in duration. A small speculum will be inserted into the rectum. This could be uncomfortable if you have internal hemorrhoids. The speculum is attached to a plastic hose which is connected to the colon irrigation machine.

Once the hose is inserted the colon hydrotherapist will adjust the volume and water temperature that will run from the colon irrigation machine into the rectum.  The whole colon will be irrigated.  The water stimulation will trigger the colon walls to move or cause peristaltic contractions.

The rectum is filled for a short duration with a specific volume that is comfortable for the individual.  As contractions occur in the colon the individual will begin to release fecal matter through a another hose that runs back to the colon irrigation machine and can be viewed through a plastic window .

The excrement that is released is always interesting to see.  Mucous, parasites and old fecal debris (dark black in color) will be expelled.

It is not uncommon to expel a fare amount of gas during the beginning treatments. This experience is not painful or uncomfortable if conducted properly.  So consider colon hydrotherapy for a cleaner and efficient colon.

For more information about constipation and how your body works, please listen to my recent interview with Rosemarie Sicilano, a colon hydrotherapist in Scottsdale, Arizona.

To your health,

Dr. Dana

Remnant Health Center

 

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What Does the Sewage Look Like That Exists Your Body?

Creative Commons License Sewage 2 by Mac (3)

Creative Commons License Sewage 2 by Mac (3)

The body is uniquely made to receive and to give back.  Each of us must eat daily to fuel our cells to supply the necessary energy to live.  The food consumed is used to power our physical structure.

However, the byproduct of eating is the accumulation of waste or refuge.  The body’s waste must be dumped or it will build up and cause problems.  Therefore an effective sewage system is built into the body to rid it of unnecessary toxins and waste, the colon.

The body gives back what it does not need.  The production of stool is the body’s means to expel unwanted waste or toxins.  Daily dumping or stool production is necessary to keep your body in proper function.

The build up of sludge or sewage in the body can cause disease and death.  Monitoring of your sewage system is encouraged so one can better understand the health of the entire body.

The assessment of stool consistency reveals a lot about the health of your gastrointestinal system.  So start looking at the sewage that exits your body to learn about the current state of health in your colon.

There is a science behind stool analysis and its relationship to health or disease conditions. In the United Kingdom the Bristol Stool Scale exists to classify your stool. This scale was developed by a group of GI doctors at the University of Bristol.   The Bristol Stool Scale is a medical tool used to label bowel movements into seven different patterns.

The seven different stool patterns are based on your bowel movement presentation. This scale is what your stool looks like in the toilet bowl.  Types 4 and 5 are normal stool patterns. The Bristol Stool Scale is listed below:

Type 1 Separate hard lumps which can be hard to pass, like rabbit pellets

Type 2 Sausage shaped but lumpy

Type 3 Sausage like with cracks on the surface

Type 4 Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

Type 5 Soft blobs with soft edges easily passed

Type 6 Fluffy pieces with irregular edges and mushy

Type 7 Watery, no solid pieces, totally liquid

The above information may be more than you cared to know.  On Oprah Dr. Oz addressed what our stool should look like, an S pattern.   Normal healthy stool, or the body’s sewage, should occur once a day and ideally be 18 inches long, brown and formed. So start looking at your sewage to see what you produce.

Next week I will begin an interview series on colon hydrotherapy from experts that are very excited about colon health.  Not expelling our waste products means the body becomes more toxic.  Proper colon functioning is critical to our health and well- being.

To your health,

Dr. Dana

Remnant Health Center

 

My Pooper Shooter is Not Working

3159051622_636b884c61_b Today’s topic is not comfortable for a lot of people. When talking about stool, poop, excrement or evacuation people want to hide.  I want to change the equation. I actually am abnormal; I love talking about stool.

Ask my patients, they will tell you we talk about their stool, its consistency, color and frequency a lot. Why, because it tells me a lot about you and your current state of health. So I am going to encourage you to get over the saying, “How gross.”

Your poop consists of the toxins your body needs to dump . That is not a pun on words but the truth. If you do not rid your body of its toxins you will re-absorb them back into your circulation or blood stream.

Many individuals do not have regular stool evacuation daily.  Some individuals believe having a bowel movement three times a week is adequate. No way, it must be daily and 12- 18 inches I tell the patients I serve.

However, the number and frequency of bowels a week is a negotiated detail in medicine. A majority of doctors think three times a week is a charm.   You need to have a bowel movement daily on average.

Having less frequent stools than is normal for you or is noticeably different than your typical pattern is a sign you may be constipated.  Your bowels should move at minimum once a day, preferably in the morning 30-60 minutes after arising.

Constipation can develop suddenly and last briefly or it can be a lifetime reality for some. Constipation is a condition of infrequent bowel evacuation or uncomfortable bowel movements.  Constipation is further described as straining with bowel movements; passage of small, hard stools; or a sense that one has not emptied their rectum completely.

A majority of individuals would state they feel better after eliminating their excrement.  It is not just the concern of our elders but one at every age at different points in time.  So what causes constipation?

Some individuals report constipation when traveling, others with a change in food and others after strenuous activity and not drinking enough water. You see our solid waste contains toxins which come from our air, food, water and the chemicals we are exposed too. Constipation occurs when the waste (stool) from the food that is digested moves too slowly (slow transit) as it passes through the digestive tract.

There a number of reasons why constipation occurs. Dehydration, changes in diet and activity, and certain medications can make transit time slowed.  When stool moves slowly, too much water is absorbed back into the colon making the stool hard and dry.  Gradual enlargement of the rectum and impaired coordination of the pelvic and anal muscles can then cause constipation.

A rare cause for constipation is a bowel obstruction which is serious but uncommon. A contributing factor here could be prior abdominal surgery with the development of adhesions (bands of fiberous tissue) forming gradually after surgery that can constrict stool passage.

A more common reason for constipation is the drugs we are taking which include iron, opioids; some high blood pressure medications such as Calcium Channel Blockers, drugs with drying effects (anticholinergic like antihistamines, sedatives and antidepressants); antacids that contain calcium or aluminum hydroxide; and some drugs used to stop nausea (serotonin antagonists).

Another reason for constipation is your thyroid gland may not be functioning properly. Get a blood test to rule that out. Other disorders that can contribute to developing constipation are diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, high blood calcium and nerve or spinal cord injury.

Lastly a diet low in fiber and the consumption of highly processed foods can stop up your digestive system making stool evacuation difficult and slow.  Processed foods are low in fiber. High fiber foods hold water in the stool and increase its bulk and ease its passage.

Stool that contains less water will move more slowly through the digestive tract. So fruits and vegetables are critical and processed foods are not your friend. The causes of constipation presented here are not exhaustive. Your pooper shooter needs to work otherwise the toxins that re-circulate can cause headaches, fatigue, weight gain, irritability and depression,

You are in control of your health and how your digestive system works. Start now to make the necessary changes to make your bowels function properly.  Drink half of your body weight in water a day, stay clear of processed foods, add more fruits and vegetables to your meals daily and start moving even if it is dancing in place.

I am going to add to this discussion with audio tapes from two colon therapists so you can hear from the experts.  They are passionate about digestive health, gut transit time, stool consistency and color and daily evacuation.

Awareness is the first key to digestive wellness. Start paying attention to how your digestive system is working or not working. Prevention is the key to constipation.

To your health,

Dr. Dana

Remnant Health Center

 

The Scintillating Smell of Bread Can Take You Down

 

Photo used with Creative-Commons license, flickr user surlygirl.

Photo used with Creative-Commons license, flickr user surlygirl.

Gluten is to some a marvelous ingredient which makes bread sticky, gooey and delicious. It makes our stomachs wake up and pay attention to its aroma. I know; I worked in a bakery as a college student. I could close my eyes and smell the scent and be happy just walking in the door.

Gluten is the term used for a group of proteins found inside many grains and seeds, such as wheat, rye, barley , kamut and spelt.  Gluten is not only in breads and pastas, but weasels itself into a variety of products like soy sauce, MSG, marinades, sauces and imitation meats. You don’t have to be diagnosed with celiac disease to have an issue with gluten.

What I did not know was gluten is a poison to my body. It could be to you too. Gluten caused chronic back pain, constipation and weight gain in me, despite high intense exercise.

How could I say that?

Our ancestors consumed little to no grains.  What we label as wheat has little resemblance to the Einkorn variety that they infrequently ate. The wheat molecule today has been changed from 13 chromosomes thick to 42 to increase the yield per square acre in farming. It is such a dense protein the gut lining cannot process it in a vast majority of us.

The average American consumes 133 to 150 pounds of wheat a year. This wheat has no generic, structural, or chemical likeness to what our ancestors ingested.  We have been duped.

Gluten’s damage can begin very gradual to irritate the nervous system  beginning in the gut and moving to the brain. The damage could begin with headaches, unexplained anxiety and progress to the more sinister conditions of depression and dementia.

In the book ‘Grain Brain’ Dr. David Perlmutter writes “When I tell people that gluten sensitivity represents one of the greatest and most under-recognized health threat to humanity, the response I hear is pretty much the same: ‘You can’t be serious.'” Part of this response is an understanding that gluten affects the gut but not necessarily the brain.

In individuals with celiac disease gluten attacks the small intestines. In non-celiac individuals the immune system attacks gluten mounting a full-scale war, like it would with a virus or bacteria.  The body produces an arsenal of antibodies to attack whatever gluten you’ve ingested-even if it is a tiny amount.

Over time every time gluten enters the body of someone intolerant,  in some of us it is three times day with what we eat, the immune system goes into a frenzy. Then gluten-induced inflammation seeps throughout the body, establishing remote outposts for chronic disease.

If you suspect you may have an issue with gluten, see your health care practitioner for specific testing to find out for sure.  Awareness is key here. We live in a day and age where gluten sensitivity is growing and the gluten-free options in our stores is expanding.

Now that I am gluten free I live without chronic back pain, constipation and a weight issue. You might fine by stopping your gluten intake your health challenges clear up or dramatically improve. It is worth a try.

To your health,

Dr. Dana

Remnant Health Center

 

The Moat Around Your Castle

Photo from Flickr.com user ukgardenphotos under Creative Commons licensing

Photo from Flickr.com user ukgardenphotos under Creative Commons licensing

Your one cell thick gut barrier is the wall, or moat, protecting your inside world from the outside world.  Consider that the inside of you is the castle, your territory, the you that moves and is in the world. This protective one cell layer acts as a gatekeeper.

The barrier is semi-permeable, meaning it selectively allows certain substances to come in like the nutrients, electrolytes and water, while maintaining an effective defense against toxins, antigens (foreign substances your body wants to attack) and microorganisms.  A healthy gut barrier consists of numerous villi, or fingerlike projections, in the small intestines which absorb nutrients for the body to function and maintains tight junctions, which act as a tight barrier between cells.  If this layer becomes compromised you can get into trouble fast.

When the barrier between you and the outside world becomes compromised, it is unable to break down food and allow nutrients to cross the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This can lead to serious health consequences, like premature aging.

The immune protection that resides on the gut barrier is like a paint called “secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA),” an antibody which I did my doctoral studies on. This defensive antibody is the first line of protection for the gut barrier to thwart entrance into the body by any foreign bacteria, virus, parasite or fungus. It also protects against toxins such as heavy metals (mercury, lead, etc.) and unwanted chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.  Again, it is necessary for you to live a healthy life.

If the paint on your gut barrier is not present you will not absorb nutrients from your food that you need to survive.  The problem with not absorbing is suddenly you can feel old, haggard, worn out without any energy or drive.  It’s like you have wilted as an overexposed piece of lettuce—not too good! I don’t know about you, but I like my lettuce crisp.

My point in telling you all of this is that this common problem is absolutely preventable. For the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you three reasonable ways in which you can prevent your gut from coming under attack. Next week, we’ll discuss the first: a simple saliva test that will tell any doctor if your “paint” is all there.

To your health,

Dr. Dana

Our Soup of Bugs: Promoting Good Gut Bugs Prebiotics and Probiotics

Source: flickr user BASF

Source: flickr user BASF

There is a lot of talk nowadays about probiotics. What the heck are they?  Well we learn a little about probiotics during a television commercial with a yogurt product called Activia which claims to help populate your gut with good bacteria. If it could be so simple!  Did anyone say our current diet could be eroding the good bacteria? No! Anyway, probiotics are the first step in being aware and empowered in our gut health and integrity.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that flourish in your digestive track but they require a balanced pH (potential hydrogen) environment to stick around. Some voices would argue they do not stick around but wash out.  They help your body digest nutrients, absorb vitamins, stop inflammation and stop the growth of bad bacteria. Bad bacteria are classified as anaerobic bacteria. If these bad bacteria are left unchecked your food will not digest like it should but will ferment and produce toxins. You will have discomfort, gas and bloating. After eating you will feel bad.  Yuck!

Maintaining the friendly bacteria in the GI tract is paramount to good health. In order for the small intestines to work properly, it is important to nourish this tissue with an ample supply of friendly bacteria called probiotics.  Probiotics are live microorganisms that when eaten in adequate amounts as part of food intake support the host’s health.  Some individuals call probiotics the “ultimate neighborhood watch” as they are continually keeping guard against harmful bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that want to rob our health.

Probiotics are the active participants in a wide range of health promoting mechanisms in the GI tract. Probiotics support health cell growth, maintain the gut barrier, build the cell wall, reduce inflammation, stop pathogen adhesion and enhance the immune system. Our diet profoundly affects the gut flora just as it affects the rest of our health.  A diet high in sugar and starches such as flour-containing foods limit probiotics’ growth.  However, a vast array of plants we can eat will encourage the growth of healthy intestinal flora.  While probiotics are the healthy bacteria, prebiotics are the foods that feed them.

A prebiotic is a nondigestable food ingredient that positively affects the growth and activity of bacteria in the colon and improves over all health13.   Examples of prebiotics are disaccharides, polysaccharides and oligiosaccharides.  These are complex carbohydrates that migrate to the colon where they are selectively fermented by specific bacteria. This fermentation process stimulates the growth and activities of other bacterial species that already reside in the colon.

The probiotic prebiotic phenomena creates a chain reaction whether in the small intestines or colon by releasing a vital short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid (butyrate) that improves gut function and promotes an anti-inflammatory response in the GI tract.  Short chain fatty acids are the ideal fuel for the epithelial cells that line the gut, nurturing them to ideal health and function.  Supplements nowadays can contain both probiotics and prebiotics called “Synbiotics.”

An ideal way to maintain proper gut flora is using a synbiotic that is from soil-based organisms.  When we talk about maintaining good gut flora over the long term for optimal function and graceful aging this combination shows promise.  Who would of thought we are made up of a soup of bugs and that we need to be proactive in maintaining the good gut bugs and not the bad?

To your health,

Dr. Dana

The Ecosystem That Thrives Inside

Small intestinal bacteria, Source: wikipedia.org

The human gut is home to over 100 trillion microbes which constitutes the ecosystem of the digestive tract.  An ecosystem is the balance of organisms that exist in an environment; in this instance we are talking about the ecosystem of the gut.  The gut or the digestive system is much like a pond. This ecosystem has an intrinsic balance of bacteria and flora that is mandatory for its existence and health. The healthy human gut has bacteria, viruses and fungus. These organisms can either help us or infect us depending on the balance in the ecosystem at any given time.  Biomedical research has shown that imbalances in gut flora can result in type 1 diabetes, allergies, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders and obesity.

The gut is the root of health and the key to well being which Hippocrates told us 2000 years ago.  The human gut is a lush vegetative environment carrying species that break down our food in ways that we cannot, processing certain vitamins and other nutrients beyond the bounds of our bodies.  These microbes are cooperative with one another to obtain the food they need and are critical for creating the conditions in which they can flourish.

The down side of these microbes is when they do not cooperate, instead competing for themselves and not for the good of the community. They can hijack our entire immune system and undermine our health in ways that you may not even be aware of. Rogue organisms occur when the digestive system is out of balance.  Bad gut bugs create havoc in your immune system and can spiral one’s health down fast.

Elie Metchnikoff, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in his work on the intestinal barrier, said “Death begins in the colon,” which is true. A variety of organisms in the mucous layer of your gut’s first defense is both benign and potentially pathogenic. Research has validated that failure to maintain the balance between an individual’s gut microorganisms has negative consequences for your gut health and your overall body.

The gut has a sensitive teeter-totter balance that is dynamic at any given time. For example, the small intestine replaces itself every 3 to 5 days.  This high tissue turnover is rich in protection as long as the right building blocks are provided to nourish and to repair.

Tune in next week to learn how to nourish and repair your gut.

To your health

Dr. Dana