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The Gluten Free Diet: Bad or Good?

Diet is known to affect the gut microbiome, the ecosystem of helpful bacteria that lives in our stomach and intestinal tract. Certain foods can promote diversity and multitude of “good” bacteria, improving energy metabolism, boosting immune response, reducing inflammation, and affecting many other areas of physical and mental health. 

Gluten, a wheat protein naturally occurring in rye, farro, barley, oats and other grains, is found in hundreds of popular foods, from pasta, to beer, to salad dressing, to candies. For those with a gluten intolerance, gluten can harm the gut microbiome, increasing inflammation and damaging the intestinal tract. Others report having a “gluten-sensitivity,” which is accompanied by stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and cramping. 

The gluten-free diet has gained enormous traction in recent years, not just as a treatment for chronic gluten-intolerances such as celiac disease or wheat allergies, but as a way to lose weight and be healthier. In a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 63% of Americans thought that following a gluten-free diet would improve physical or mental health and 25% thought that gluten-free foods were higher in vitamins and minerals. For many, a “gluten-free” label has become synonymous with healthfulness. 

Unfortunately, food retailers have weaponized this phenomenon by using the nutritional authority of the “gluten-free” label to sell products that aren’t necessarily healthier, at higher prices. This infographic by Consumer Reports compares products with and without gluten. Gluten-free products often have more calories, sugar, sodium, and fat, as well as less beneficial nutrients like fiber and protein. Wheat flour, which contains gluten, is often replaced with rice flour and other less-nutritional alternatives. 

While the widespread accessibility of gluten-free products has been life-changing for those with gluten-sensitivities, the influx of processed, less-nutritional gluten-free foods has arguably been harmful for many. Like other food trends, the gluten-free diet should be approached with mindfulness and skepticism. 

Is The Gluten-Free Diet Right For You?

For those suffering from celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, a wheat allergy, IBD, or another condition tied to gluten-intolerance, a gluten-free diet is crucial for managing symptoms. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a gluten-related medical condition, consult a doctor for testing. Diagnosing yourself, or choosing to eat totally gluten-free for weight loss without consulting a nutritionist is not recommended. Receiving adequate nutrients on a gluten-free diet can be difficult for many. 

For those of us who don’t suffer from a gluten-related medical condition, gluten is recommended in moderation. Ultimately, avoiding processed foods is far more effective than cutting out gluten altogether. As discussed, many gluten-free products are highly-processed and can be harder to digest, less nutritional, and harmful for the gut microbiome. Consuming more naturally-occurring gluten-free foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, certain whole grains, fish, dairy, and meat, is the best way to cut out gluten, get plenty of vitamins and minerals, and avoid sneaky branding. 

As with any medical condition, it is always best to seek assistance from a qualified medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms that are causing you difficulty. If you need a gastroenterologist in Southern Indiana, or in the Louisville or Lexington Kentucky-area, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today for more information or to schedule an appointment.  

 

Popular Food Emulsifier Found To Harm Gut Microbiome

While you probably haven’t heard of carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), you’ve definitely eaten it. As the most widely-used cellulose-based emulsifier in the world, CMC is found in almost every type of processed food. And, unfortunately, new research has connected CMC to a range of negative gastrointestinal symptoms. 

What is CMC?

CMC is a stabilizing and thickening agent used in food and nonfood products, including ice cream, milk, fruit juice, toothpaste, detergents, water-based paints, chewing gum, dye, protein drinks, laxatives, and many more processed items. Its use is extensive and fair-reaching, from adding bulk to ketchup to acting as a viscosity modifier in the oil industry.

CMC’s makeup is what has made it so versatile and popular. Considered nontoxic and hypoallergenic, the highly viscous (thickening) substance is derived from cellulose, an organic compound. It easily absorbs/retains water and is clear, tasteless, and colorless. It is known as an emulsifier, a ubiquitous agent used to improve the experience and longevity of food. While it has no nutritional value and cannot be digested by humans, it has long been considered safe to consume. 

In fact, CMC has been used in the food industry since the 1960s. It is generally used in the production of baked goods, since its calorie-free and gluten-free. It is also used as a “texture enhancer,” creating a thicker, creamier “taste experience” in many sauces, jams, and even sausages. On labels, CMC may also go by the name of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose or sodium CMC. 

The Truth About CMC 

Clinical research published in Gastroenterology Journal this past November 2021 found important new insights into the impact of CMC on gut health. In this randomized controlled-feeding study, a group of healthy volunteers were either subjected to a CMC-free diet or a diet with CMCs. Research found that those who consumed CMCs experienced stomach pain, loss of gut bacteria diversity, loss of short-chain fatty acids and amino acids, and symptoms associated with IBD and gut inflammation. 

This isn’t the first study to find fault in CMC, or emulsifying agents in general. In 2015, a study published in Nature found a direct connection between dietary emulsifiers and low-grade inflammation, changes in gut microbiota, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and colitis in mice. 

The findings of both studies can suggest that the widespread use of emulsifying agents like CMC may directly correlate to the rise in IBD (irritable bowel disease), colon cancer, and chronic inflammatory conditions in human populations. By altering the composition of the gut microbiome and number of metabolites present, these agents cause chronic, lasting detriment to gut function and health. 

Beyond suggesting a need to study the effects of CMC and other emulsifiers more extensively, this study “provides a general blueprint to carefully test individual food additives in humans in a well-controlled manner,” according to co-senior author Dr. James Lewis of the University of Pennsylvania. Indeed, this study has highlighted the necessity for large-scale research into the assembly of processed foods, especially components long-believed to be safe and nontoxic, like CMC. 

If you are suffering from symptoms of a GI condition, the experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you using the most advanced treatment options available. We strive to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective GI care in the region. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you. 

Why You Need To Add More Fiber To Your Diet

These days, the importance of consuming dietary fiber is fairly common knowledge. Most of us make an effort to add fiber to our diets, whether it be through a fiber-rich cereal or daily multi-vitamin. 

But, even if you’re taking strides to include fiber in your diet, you’re likely not getting enough! On average, Americans eat about 15 grams of fiber a day. That number should be between 25 and 35 grams, or more. And not just from supplements or vitamins, but from whole foods.

Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Keep reading to learn about what fiber is, why it matters, and some high-fiber foods to add to your grocery list. 

What Is Fiber?

Dietary Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Unlike other nutrients such as proteins and fats, fiber cannot be digested by the body. It simply passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon. 

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are important for different reasons, and many foods contain both types. Soluble fibers can be dissolved in water, which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers cannot be dissolved in water, which adds necessary bulk to stool, promoting regularity of the digestive tract. 

Why Is Fiber Important?

Beyond fiber’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, balance cholesterol, and promote regularity, adequate fiber consumption has been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and many gastrointestinal conditions such as colorectal ulcers, hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids. Plus, by reducing the risk of constipation, fiber helps improve gut health. High fiber foods are also generally healthier and more filling than processed, low-fiber foods. 

Try These High Fiber Foods

High Fiber Fruits

  • 1 cup of Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 Pear: 5.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Apple: 4.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Banana: 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 Orange: 3 grams of fiber

High Fiber Vegetables

  • 1 cup of Green Peas: 9 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber 
  • 1 cup of Turnips: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brussel Sprouts: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 Potato: 4 grams of fiber

High Fiber Grains

  • 1 cup of Spaghetti: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Barley: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Quinoa: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Oatmeal: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brown Rice: 3.5 grams of fiber

High Fiber Legumes

  • 1 cup of Split Peas: 16 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Lentils: 15.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Black Beans: 15 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Baked Beans: 10 grams of fiber

High Fiber Nuts/Seeds

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of Chia Seeds: 10 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Flax Seeds: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pumpkin Seeds: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Almonds: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pistachios: 3 grams of fiber

If you are suffering from symptoms of a GI condition, the experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you using the most advanced treatment options available. We strive to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective GI care in the region. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you. 

Stomach Pain After Eating? Here Are 7 Things It Could Be

A recent online survey conducted across 26 countries found that 1 in 10 people experience post-meal abdominal pain. Of the 54,000 people who were polled, 13% of women and 9% of men reported frequent gastrointestinal discomfort after eating a meal. Individuals reported bloating, a swollen stomach, feeling full quickly, constipation, and diarrhea. Interestingly, these individuals had twice the rates of anxiety and depression as people who reported no symptoms.

This study illuminates the connection between food and diet, gastrointestinal health, mental health, and chronic gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. It suggests the importance of an individualized and multidisciplinary approach to treating digestive disorders. 

If you experience frequent gastrointestinal discomfort after eating food, seek medical help. A gastroenterologist can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and build an effective treatment plan, based on your unique symptoms. In the meantime, follow along for common causes for stomach pain after eating:

7 Causes For Stomach Pain After Eating

1. Food Allergy or Intolerance. Many people experience food allergies and intolerances that result in persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Common allergens include eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, milk, soy, wheat, and more. If symptoms are minor, these conditions can go undiagnosed for years! 

2. IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). IBS can cause bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and other negative gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS is chronic and requires managing symptoms, often through dietary changes.

3. Gastritis. Gastritis is a broad term for inflammation/swelling of the stomach lining. It can be caused by infection, overuse of pain medications (NSAIDs), injuries, certain foods, and overuse of alcohol. Gastritis can result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weakness. 

4. Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a chronic immune disease that is characterized by an inability to eat gluten. Eating foods with gluten damages the small intestine and immune system of people with Celiac. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, and mood changes. It is often genetic and can be diagnosed with a blood test. 

5. IBD. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which are a result of inflammation of the intestinal tract. Believed to be a result of an abnormal immune response, these conditions can result in symptoms such as cramping, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, fatigue, and blood in stool.

6. GERD.  If you experience pain after eating that is located higher than the stomach and more in your upper abdomen or throat, you may be suffering from acid reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms can also include heartburn, nausea, a burning sensation in the throat, or pain with swallowing.

7. You ate too much or ate something that is difficult to digest. Before diagnosing yourself with a food allergy or chronic disease, consider what you ate. Did you eat a very large portion of food? Did you eat acidic, spicy, or fried foods? Perhaps you ate something high in artificial sugar? These types of foods, especially in larger portions, are difficult to digest and can result in negative symptoms for anyone. 

For more information about diagnosing digestive conditions, reach out to Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) today. Our clinicians have a passion for seeking out and refining new treatments and advanced solutions for those suffering from disorders of the digestive system. Each of our physicians offers expert specialization, evaluating and treating the entire spectrum of digestive conditions. To learn more about the treatment options available to you, schedule an appointment at one of our locations throughout Louisville, Lexington, and Southern Indiana.

6 Fermented Foods For Better Gut Health

Did you know that eating fermented foods can enhance the diversity of the gut microbiome, which reduces inflammation and improves immune response?

If you did not know this, it’s okay. New research is only beginning to unlock the exciting connections between diet, gut microbiome, and body response. A research paper published by Stanford Medicine this July was one of the first formal efforts to delve into the powerful effects of fermented foods on gut health, in particular.

So What Exactly Is Fermentation?

Humans have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. Fermentation is a metabolic process that utilizes live microbes such as bacteria or yeast to create a chemical reaction. In the absence of oxygen, these microorganisms will break down carbohydrates such as sugars and starches into different compounds altogether. This is how simple yeast can turn barley malt into carbonated, alcoholic beer, or how grapes become wine. Fermentation is a natural, nutritious preservation process. You can easily ferment foods yourself, find them on many restaurant menus, or purchase them at a local grocery store!

Why Do Fermented Foods Help The Gut?

Millions of microbes live in your gut, intestines and colon. Known as the gut microbiota, this system of bacteria helps digest food as well as plays a role in your overall health, immune response, metabolism and even mental health. While each person’s unique gut composition is influenced by genetic makeup, your lifestyle can also impact the quality of your gut microbiome. Factors such as your daily levels of exercise and diet can greatly impact the diversity and functionality of gut microbiota.

The live microorganisms found in fermented foods are a source of probiotics, which have innumerable health benefits. These natural probiotics aid the immune system, and in doing so, boost the body’s response to pathogens. Plus, the enzymes and lactic acid created in the fermentation process helps better absorb nutrients such as Vitamin B and C. The full extent of the benefits of fermented foods are only beginning to be realized.

6 Fermented Foods For Better Gut Health

1. Plain Yogurt – Plain yogurt is low calorie, low sugar, and teaming with beneficial probiotics. Add fresh fruit, oatmeal, or granola to make the perfect gut-boosting breakfast.

2. Kombucha – Kombucha is a popular fermented tea beverage. It is carbonated, with a bitter, fruity taste. A single bottle can have as little as 50 calories and millions of good bacteria. Keep in mind that there are many different brands on the market including options without added sugar.

3. Tempeh – Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, pressed together. Similar to tofu, it is a great meat substitute to be cooked, fried, or baked. It is also a source of antioxidants, probiotics, and is high in protein.

4. Kefir – Kefir is a tangy, yogurt-like beverage made of fermented kefir grains. It is proven to reduce inflammation, strengthen bones, and even reduce symptoms of lactose-intolerance in some people.

5. Kimchi – Kimchi is a Korean dish made of fermented cabbage or similar vegetables like radishes. It can be eaten alone or used as a topping on sandwiches, salads, pasta, etc. You can find it in most grocery stores. Studies have found that it may improve insulin resistance and lower cholesterol.

6. Sauerkraut – Another form of fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is plentiful in fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants. It’s also low calorie, and can be put on/in just about anything.

Within recent years, the gastrointestinal microbiome has become an increasingly popular area of scientific study due to its close link to human health and wellbeing. Not only does a person’s gut microbiome help with the digestion of food, but it also plays an important role in supporting the body’s immune system. Future research will no doubt provide additional insight about ways we can improve and support our body’s gut health.

For more information about improving your gut health or other digestive conditions, reach out to Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) today. Our clinicians have a passion for seeking out and refining new treatments and advanced solutions for those suffering from disorders of the digestive system. Each of our physicians offers expert specialization, evaluating and treating the entire spectrum of digestive conditions. To learn more about the treatment options available to you, schedule an appointment at one of our locations throughout Louisville, Lexington, and Southern Indiana.

A Review of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a condition characterized by recurring periods of severe nausea and vomiting. Read along for a review of the condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is an uncommon syndrome that can affect a variety of groups of people. In many cases, it begins when children are between the ages of 3 and 7. While it tends to be more common in children, it is actually becoming more common in adults. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes cyclical vomiting syndrome. It could be a result of genetic, hormonal, or other factors. An episode of vomiting can sometimes be triggered by external conditions as well. These can be things like menstruation, seasonal allergies, a cold, hot weather, physical exertion, and eating certain foods. There is also evidence that cyclical vomiting could be linked to migraines- most children with this syndrome have a family history of migraines. In fact, this syndrome may be a migraine variant. 

Symptoms

There are a number of symptoms associated with this syndrome. The condition creates recurring periods of severe nausea and vomiting. These episodes can last anywhere from a few hours to days. Between episodes, people with the condition do not typically experience symptoms, or experience milder symptoms. Episodes tend to be very similar for each individual as well. The episodes often start around the same time, last a similar period of time, and have the same symptoms. Your episodes may start with nausea and sweating at first. You may become so nauseated or experience such severe vomiting that you become incapacitated as well. Other symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gagging, sensitivity to light, and a lack of energy. Some children who have cyclical vomiting syndrome outgrow it as they age, but may develop migraines. 

Diagnosing Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Doctors diagnose CVS with a combination of an exam, talking through your medical history, and some testing. They will want to know details about your episodes like the symptoms involved and patterns in the episodes to gather information. Your doctors may also perform imaging testing like an endoscopy or a CT scan to visualize your gastrointestinal tract and identify any blockages or other conditions. They can also pursue motility testing to evaluate the movement of food through your body and find any possible digestive disorders. Overall, doctors will use a variety of methods to rule out other potential issues or disorders before diagnosing cyclical vomiting syndrome. 

Complications and Treatment

CVS can cause dehydration, since the body loses fluids due to vomiting. Additionally, the acid from vomit can cause tooth decay. This condition can also cause inflammation in the esophagus due to recurring damage.

Treating this condition involves a combination of managing symptoms and preventing episodes by identifying and avoiding triggers. Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medication, stomach acid suppressants, pain relief drugs, or migraine medication to manage symptoms. Additionally, they will work with you to figure out what tends to trigger vomiting episodes. You should avoid the things that tend to cause an episode, whether it’s a particular food, stressor, or environmental factor. Long-term, having a strong support system and a plan for good preventative measures is key to managing CVS.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like cyclical vomiting. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

 

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is a condition in which the muscle between the bile duct and pancreatic duct does not open like it should. This results in digestive juice backup. Here’s an overview of the condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors

The sphincter of Oddi is a smooth muscle that surrounds the end of the common bile duct and the pancreatic duct. It opens and closes to allow bile and pancreatic juice to flow into the intestine for digestion. This muscle can develop the inability to properly function in some cases. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but there are a few things that seem to increase risk. For one, people who have had a gallbladder removal seem to be at a higher risk of this condition. It is also more common in middle-aged women. 

Symptoms of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

A key symptom of this condition is recurring pain attacks in the upper right abdomen. The pain tends to be steady, and may be aggravated by eating fatty foods. It may also worsen with the use of opiates. Given the condition’s association with gallbladder removal, doctors are often on the lookout for these sorts of recurring symptoms for patients who have recently undergone that procedure. If you have undergone a gallbladder removal and have recurring upper abdominal pain, it could be a sign of this condition or another issue. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing recurring pain following the procedure. 

Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose sphincter of Oddi dysfunction in a few different ways. As mentioned before, if you have recently had a gallbladder removal and have recurring upper abdominal pain, doctors may suspect this condition and investigate. There are several noninvasive testing options available. Doctors may order a blood test to measure enzyme levels in the liver and pancreas. They may also perform an ERCP to check the drainage times and functioning of your pancreas and bile ducts. Additionally, they can perform manometry during the ERCP to measure the sphincter’s function by evaluating pressure changes. Manometry is often considered one of the best ways to test for this condition. 

Complications and Treatment

Depending on the specifics of your condition, doctors may pursue different treatment options. In non-severe cases, doctors may first prescribe medication to control pain and prevent spasms. Another treatment option is a sphincterotomy. This is a surgical procedure in which doctors cut the muscle to provide relief and ensure there are no stones in your gallbladder or bile ducts. This is often successful in treating symptoms from the condition. Up to 70% of patients experience long-term pain relief. However, it is a difficult procedure with a significant risk of complications. As many as 5-15% of patients who get this surgery experience complications like mild pancreatitis, and might need to stay in the hospital to recover. It can also cause scarring around the incision. As such, doctors only recommend a sphincterotomy if other treatment options have not been successful. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

Fecal Transplant: What You Need to Know

A fecal transplant is a procedure in which stool from a healthy donor is transferred to your GI tract. Here’s an overview of the procedure and what you can expect. 

What is a Fecal Transplant? 

Fecal transplants are used to help treat a bacterial infection condition called C. difficile colitis. This condition involves inflammation in the colon as a result of the C. difficile bacteria being present. It can cause diarrhea, fever, and pain, and can be severe if untreated. In some cases, this condition is a complication of antibiotic treatment- antibiotics may have killed off too many good bacteria in your GI system. It can also be caused by ingestion of the C. difficile bacteria itself. In any case, a fecal transplant can help. Doctors often first attempt to treat C. difficile colitis with antibiotics, but if the condition recurs they may shift to a fecal transplant. 

Before the Procedure

Leading up to a transplant, you will have to meet with your doctor to confirm that it’s the best option. You will need a stool donor as well. In some cases, you may be tasked with finding your own potential donor. There are also organizations that gather qualified donor samples for use. 

Doctors evaluate stool donors through a rigorous screening process. Many factors can disqualify potential donors, including recent antibiotic exposure, a recent tattoo or piercing, a history of drug use, a chronic GI disorder, or a history of high-risk sexual behavior. When a donor is a potential match, doctors will also screen them for infectious pathogens. They perform blood and stool tests to look for things like Hepatitis, HIV, parasites, and multi-drug-resistant organisms.

In the days leading up to the actual procedure, you’ll need to follow a few guidelines as well. You should not take any antibiotics in the two days before the transplant. You will have a liquid diet and will need to take a laxative or enema the night before the procedure as well. Follow your doctor’s specific instructions for the best outcomes. 

During the Fecal Transplant

You will need someone to accompany you on the day of the procedure, as you will be undergoing anaesthetic. Doctors use a colonoscopy as the method to transplant the stool. As such, normal colonoscopy procedures are followed (you can read more here). You’ll be under anaesthesia as doctors use an endoscope to enter your GI tract and perform the transplant. The donor stool is deposited in your colon during this process. This healthy donor stool is then able to help replenish the balance of bacteria in your gut. 

After the Procedure

Since this procedure involves a colonoscopy, you’ll have to recover from sedation immediately after the transplant. It can take around an hour to recover. Once recovered, your doctor will discuss how the procedure went with you. Sedative effects can linger for about a day, so you should avoid making important decisions or operating machinery for 24 hours afterwards. Make sure the person who brought you to the doctor’s office also takes you home, as you should not drive. 

This procedure is highly effective at preventing a recurrence of C. difficile. A number of studies have shown around a 90% rate of success. This is a largely effective treatment option to solve issues with C. difficile colitis long-term. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like C. difficile colitis. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

 

What is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your upper stomach bulges out through an opening in your diaphragm. Here’s what you need to know about this condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Most often, a hiatal hernia is caused by an increase in pressure in the abdominal cavity. This cavity is in the middle of your body and holds many vital organs like your kidneys, liver, and small intestine. Pressure can come from a few things, including physical strain, coughing, vomiting, or strain during a bowel movement. In any case, the pressure causes the stomach to push through the diaphragm in your upper abdomen, causing a hiatal hernia.

People at risk for this include overweight people, smokers, and people over 50. Additionally, some pregnant women develop this condition. However, anyone at any age can develop a hiatal hernia.

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

It’s fairly common for people with a hiatal hernia to experience no symptoms at all. In many cases, you may not know you have one until your doctor finds one during an exam or procedure for another purpose. This is often the case for smaller hernias that don’t cause issues in your body. However, larger hernias may impede certain functions and are more likely to lead to symptoms. For those who do experience symptoms, some of the most common are GERD-like symptoms including heartburn, regurgitation, acid reflux, and pain in the esophagus. This is because the hernia can allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus. Some other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling full soon after eating, vomiting blood, or passing black stools. 

Diagnosing a Hiatal Hernia

Doctors diagnose hiatal hernias in a few different ways. They may perform an upper endoscopy to visualize your upper digestive tract and identify any signs of the hernia. Another test they use is called a barium swallow test. Here, you drink a special liquid that coats your digestive tract, which doctors then visualize by taking an x-ray. They can also use esophageal manometry to measure the strength and coordination of your esophagus. 

Complications and Treatment

In the majority of cases, hiatal hernias don’t cause any issues and thus don’t require treatment. If you have GERD-like symptoms, doctors will likely use treatment methods used to manage GERD itself. They may recommend lifestyle changes like decreased portion sizes, losing weight, limiting acidic foods, quitting smoking, and eating well before you lie down to sleep at night. They may also recommend over the counter antacids to neutralize stomach acid, or medications that reduce acid production. 

In some cases, if these treatment methods do not improve your situation or if a hernia is severely constricting your esophagus, you may need surgery. In this procedure, doctors pull your stomach down into your abdomen and improve the valve at the bottom of your esophagus. This provides a long-term solution which prevents food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.  

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like hiatal hernias. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet designed to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). In this diet, you tactically remove FODMAP foods to eliminate IBS symptoms, and then slowly add them back in to identify which cause you issues. You can think of it as a short diet that will help identify problem foods to avoid long-term. Today on the blog, we’ll go into detail on the FODMAP diet and how it can help you.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Basically, these are all short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that you can find in foods. The small intestine may absorb these poorly, causing stress on the digestive system. Many people with IBS are sensitive to some of these sugars, and can experience symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and cramping if they eat them. This diet is designed to remove foods that contain the sugars to help relieve symptoms first.

Phase 1 of a FODMAP Diet

In the first phase of this diet, you’ll avoid eating certain foods. The foods you remove in a FODMAP diet include milk, honey, fruits, beans, sweeteners, and more. Your medical provider will provide specific guidelines to follow. For this phase, you’ll need to avoid FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks. This may help eliminate symptoms you’ve had from the foods. For people with a bacterial overgrowth issue in their small intestine, it gives time for the bacteria levels to decrease.

The diet does eliminate a lot of foods you may be used to eating. Some foods you can continue to eat in this phase of the diet include eggs, meat, certain cheeses (like brie), potatoes, grapes, and almond milk.

Phase 2

Phase 2 involves slowly reintroducing certain foods. While Phase 1 is all about eliminating everything and calming down symptoms, Phase 2 is an exploration of what specific foods you react to. The way this usually works is by adding one FODMAP food back into your diet every few days. This gives you time to see if the latest food you added causes any reaction. When you encounter a reaction from a specific food, you will be able to avoid that food long-term with this knowledge.

Effectiveness

The FODMAP diet approach is considered one of the most effective therapies for treating IBS. It reduces symptoms in around 86% of people. However, since it is so restrictive initially, you will need to work with a doctor or dietitian who can coach you on staying healthy while avoiding FODMAP foods. They can provide a full list of FODMAP foods, and provide key guidance while you undergo this therapy. When successful, the long-term dietary changes you make as a result of FODMAP dieting are a powerful tool to reduce IBS and bacterial overgrowth symptoms.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating for IBS. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.