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#GutHealth: Discerning Trend From Reality

“Gut health” seems to be a social media buzzword these days, with TikTok and Instagram influencers pushing products, juices, and bizarre diets to “heal” the gut, i.e., reduce bloating, improve digestion, and act as a sort of “cure all” for many common gastrointestinal symptoms and conditions, such as IBS and IBD. Aloe vera juice, bone broth, apple cider vinegar, probiotic-enriched muffin mixes–With so many emerging and unverified natural and unnatural remedies floating around the internet, it can be overwhelming to discern fact from fiction. 

At the same time, there’s so much new and exciting research around the role of the gut microbiome in overall physical and mental health. Research has found that boosting the diversity of gut microbiota (the vast array of “good” bacteria in your digestive system) can have positive effects on the immune system, improve mental health conditions like depression, improve sleep and heart health, and even reduce the rate of certain types of cancer

That being said, these recent, ungrounded social media trends are nothing but dangerous. 

In a recent New York Times article, University of London senior lecturer Stephanie Alice Baker defined these fads as the latest manifestation of the idea of “self-optimization,” an insidious mechanism to promote diet culture and “ideal” body types through unlikely sources. By labeling weight loss as “gut healing,” influencers are able to promote extreme, unhealthy diets. What’s more, these influencers often have no medical authority and may only be promoting a product because they’re being paid to do so. 

The truth of the matter is: there’s no quick fix, even if it seems to work for someone on #guttok. Many people suffer from gastrointestinal conditions that are best treated by consulting a medical professional. However, there are some research-driven dietary changes you can make to heal your gut over time. Let’s take a look at 6 gastroenterologist-backed methods for diversifying and improving the gut microbiome.

6 Things You Can Do For Your Gut Health

Eat fermented foods.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine found that a diet high in fermented foods, such as kimchi, kefir, and cottage cheese, continually increased microbiota diversity and decreased inflammatory markers over a period of 17 weeks. Fermented foods are rich in good bacteria; read our blog about other types of fermented food and fermentation here

Eat more fiber.

The same Stanford trial also examined the role of fiber in diet and found that it increased microbiome function, especially coupled with the consumption of fermented foods. Consuming soluble and insoluble fiber also promotes regularity and digestive function. Learn more about high-fiber foods and the role of fiber on our blog here

Reduce consumption of processed foods.

Research has found that regular consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods (like sugary soda, chips, artificial cheese, fried chicken, fast food) reduces gut diversity while increasing symptoms of gut disorders like IBS, the risk of depression, inflammation, and mortality. Unfortunately, many readily-accessible foods with a long-shelf life are highly-processed, even ones that appear “healthy,” so taking time to research nutritional information is key.

Reduce consumption of spicy foods. 

Spicy food isn’t “dangerous,” but consuming it often can irritate the stomach and increase symptoms of certain gut disorders, like IBS, IBD, and acid reflux. 

Don’t smoke.

Smoking and the toxic chemicals in cigarette smokes harms every part of the digestive system; from increasing the risk of heartburn and peptic ulcers to harming intestinal microflora, increasing inflammation, and increasing oxidative stress. 

Take probiotics.

Probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods contain life bacteria that contribute to improving gut microbiome diversity. Taking probiotics may be beneficial to your health, but it’s recommended that you consult a doctor first.  

The experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you if you are concerned about your gut health or have other gastroenterological issues. For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our Kentucky or Southern Indiana offices, contact one of our practice locations near you.  

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month: Information and Resources

April is annually designated as #IBSAwarenessMonth, a monthlong effort to focus attention on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the millions of people it affects all over the world. Around 15% of the population suffers from IBS, but many go undiagnosed, dealing with painful, frustrating, and often stigmatized symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about the condition as well as some valuable resources.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) describes a collection of chronic symptoms occurring in the large intestine (colon). It is characterized by bloating, abdominal cramping, and a change in bowel habits. Constipation and/or diarrhea are a part of IBS. No one knows what causes the condition, although it’s more common in women than men.

Symptoms of IBS

  • Uncomfortable bloating or distention 
  • Pain or cramping in the abdominal area
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea or vomiting

Managing Symptoms of IBS

There’s no “cure” for IBS. Treating the condition requires symptom management: making certain lifestyle and dietary changes based on your specific needs. Here are some ways that IBS can be controlled:

  • Limiting foods that trigger IBS symptoms. These may include alcohol, chocolate, carbonated beverages, certain fruits and vegetables, or milk. 
  • Stress management. IBS can worsen during periods of high-stress or anxiety. In fact, during the pandemic, many report that their symptoms of IBS have considerably worsened. Planning ahead, making lists, meditating, taking time to relax and avoiding stressful situations can prevent aggravation of symptoms.
  • Eat more fiber. Getting plenty of fiber in your diet can promote regularity and limit symptoms of IBS. 
  • Certain medications, such as anti-diarrheal medications and anticholinergic medications. 

Life With IBS: Resources and Information

IBS affects many people’s quality of life in subtle but debilitating ways. It can affect your work, travel, relationships, and how you live out each day. In fact, on average, individuals with IBS restrict their activities 73 days out of the year. 

If you or a loved one is living with IBS, there are a variety of resources and methodologies available to help you handle daily symptoms that you may have not encountered before. 

One such method is known as “belly breathing.” By utilizing the abdomen to expand and contract breath rather than the chest, you can limit symptoms of IBS and other gastroenterological conditions. Belly breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells the brain to move back to “rest” mode rather than “fight or flight.” It also improves stomach accommodation and pressure. 

If you frequently travel or commute to work, it can be helpful to create an IBS “survival kit”  to be of need in unfamiliar settings. This can include a change of clothes, extra bath tissue, medication, something that calms you, and anything else that may be of use.

If you are close with or live with someone with IBS, providing them a supportive and understanding relationship can be hugely beneficial. Read this helpful blog about relationships and IBS by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) to learn more.

Being communicative with your physician is also an important part of managing symptoms of IBS. On average, people wait with their symptoms for over 6 years before seeking help. If you think you may be experiencing IBS, seek medical advice. The IFFGD has compiled a list of “words to know” so you can better-communicate your symptoms. 

Why Does IBS Awareness Month Matter?

By participating in #IBSAwarenessMonth, you can help spread awareness, reduce stigma, and promote greater investment in IBS research. 

Visit the IFFGD’s #IBSAwarenessMonth homebase for more pertinent information and media resources toolkits. Read personal stories of people who experience IBS here. Visit the American College of Gastroenterology’s helpful resource page here.

The experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you if you are concerned about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or other gastroenterological medical conditions. For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our Kentucky or Southern Indiana offices, contact one of our practice locations near you.  

 

7 Common Signs of a Duodenal Ulcer

Duodenal ulcers are a type of sore that develop in your small intestine in an area called the duodenum. This area is located at the top portion of your small intestine just past the stomach. 

This type of ulcer can be caused by several different things. Some people get duodenal ulcers from infections with Helicobacter pylori often referred to as H. pylori, a bacterium often detected in the stomach. 

Ulcers can also be caused by anti-inflammatory medications which can impact the mucous barrier in the duodenum enabling acids to cause ulcers. There are also certain medical conditions that can cause duodenal ulcers. For example, duodenal ulcers can be caused by the increase in stomach acid associated with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. 

Additionally certain lifestyle factors can increase a person’s risk of developing duodenal ulcers including heavy drinking, smoking and heavy stress.

Research suggests that upwards of one out of 10 people in the U.S. experience a duodenal ulcer at some point in time. While ulcers were originally more common in men, the rates of ulcers in women have increased in recent years.

Though duodenal ulcers may be confused with other medical conditions, there are some common signs and symptoms. Follow along for 7 common signs of a duodenal ulcer.

7 Signs of a Duodenal Ulcer

1. Stomach pain which sometimes becomes more severe and then gets better depending on what you are eating and drinking.

2. Bloating and an overall feeling of fullness especially after you eat 

3. Increased gas and a need to burp

4. Nausea and even feeling like you might need to vomit

5. Weight loss which can happen if the ulcer causes any type of blockage in your digestive track which makes it difficult for food to travel through your stomach.

6. Weight gain through comfort eating in order to find pain relief through food that neutralizes the acid build up. 

7. Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, which is characterized by discomfort and a burning feeling in your upper abdomen area.

8. Extremely serious ulcer cases can cause more severe symptoms and complications that require immediate medical attention including blood in your stool. 

If you think that you might be suffering from a duodenal ulcer, you should seek out experienced medical attention. When left untreated, duodenal ulcers can lead to more serious complications including bleeding and even perforations in your intestine. There are certain tests that your gastroenterologist may perform for diagnostic purposes. An endoscopy is often used to diagnose a duodenal ulcer. Through this test your physician is uses a flexible telescope which provides visibility in the duodenum so that ulcers can be detected. Your doctor may also test you to see if you have H. pylori.

The experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you if you are concerned about duodenal ulcers and other gastroenterological medical conditions. For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our Kentucky or Southern Indiana offices, contact one of our practice locations near you.  

The Colonoscopy: A Historical Timeline

As we approach the end of this year’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at something near and dear to our hearts: the colonoscopy. 

As the only screening test that detects and prevents cancer, the best test for finding precancerous polyps, and the only test recommended for people with risk factors such as personal history of polyps or cancer, the colonoscopy is truly a life-saving resource. Over 15 million colonoscopies are performed across the United States each year, reducing the widespread risk of colorectal cancer death by over 60%.

However, despite the colonoscopy’s widespread use and unequivocal standard of effectiveness, it is actually a fairly new methodology, one that took decades to be widely-known and well-established. While variations of the colonoscopy were first conceptualized throughout the 1960s, it wasn’t until the last few decades that the standards of quality which govern the colonoscopy as we know it came to be.

Follow along for a deep-dive into our favorite colorectal cancer screening test. 

1960s-70s: The Early Years

Up until the mid-1960s, the closest thing to a colonoscopy was an endoscopic procedure using a rigid sigmoidoscope. This device had very limited movement, reach, and was unable to actually remove polyps. 

In 1969, colleagues Dr. William Wolff and Dr. Hiromi Shinya of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City invented the fiberoptic colonoscope, the first device to allow doctors to actually examine the entire length of the colon, thanks to its flexible, dynamic design.

Dr. Shinya also invented the polypectomy snare in 1969, a device which was able to physically remove colorectal polyps using a wire and electro-cauterizing mechanism. 

By 1973, the pair had performed over 5,000 colonoscopies, demonstrating the validity and safety of the procedure. 

1980s-90s: Increasing Awareness

In 1983, the Welch Allyn Corporation invented the first video endoscope, allowing doctors to see the procedure on-screen. Before, they were only able to observe the colon through a small eyepiece. 

Although the colonoscopy continued to develop, there was still a lack of general public accessibility and awareness towards the procedure. Many people opted for tests such as fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy. It wasn’t until 1985, when President Ronald Reagan underwent a life-saving colonoscopy, that the procedure began to garner national attention. 

In the mid-90s, the first screening recommendations were established in the United States. Adults over the age of 50 were suggested to receive regular colonoscopies. However, in a 1999 survey conducted by the CDC, only 40.3% of American adults over the age of 50 reported ever having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.  

2000-Now: New Developments

In 2000, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) published the first colonoscopy guidelines. This seminal work allowed the quality of a colonoscopy to be measured with a numeric value, the Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR) as well as evaluate measures such as the quality of bowel preparation, patient assessments, rate of complications, cecal intubation rate, and withdrawal time. Doctors were finally able to be pragmatically evaluated for their ability to perform a colonoscopy. 

The early 21st century saw a significant increase in colonoscopies. Self-reported colonoscopies across the United States increased from 20% in 2000 to 47% in 2008. This can be contributed to many factors: a variety of educational campaigns and visibility measures pushed by doctors, government, and public organizations; Medicare coverage of colonoscopy, beginning in 2001; even celebrity stunts such as the Today Show’s Katie Couric’s publicized colonoscopy.

From 2000 to 2015, colon cancer rates rose considerably across increasingly younger populations. For adults aged 40-44, colorectal cancer incidence increased by 28%, for those aged 45-49, colorectal cancer increased by 15%, and while colonoscopy rates increased 17% in those aged 50–54. 

Rising colorectal cancer rates have led to efforts such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s 2020 recommendation that all adults aged 45-75 should be regularly screened. This was an update from the 2016 guidelines that suggested adults without risk factors should begin screening at the age of 50.

What is the future of the colonoscopy?

The colonoscope of the present remains largely unchanged from that first created by Dr. Wolff and Shinya in 1969. While it has developed in mechanical quality, such as flexibility and control, and now features a light source, suction device, lens cleaning, and a camera, it doesn’t really vary in its fundamental use: to observe and remove colorectal polyps, acting as both a diagnostic and therapeutic instrument. Why is this the case? Likely because it is highly effective at what it does! 

With this in mind, the most important development concerning colonoscopies, arguably, is in the public sphere. While the mechanisms of the procedure itself will undoubtedly continue to evolve and innovate, it’s important to consider the future of public access and opinion towards the colonoscopy.

There is still a surprising amount of misconception surrounding the colonoscopy. A 2020 survey of several European countries found that only 45% of people understood that it can prevent colon cancer. In the United States (pre-pandemic), around 68.8% of adults were up-to-date with their colonoscopy. Many people remain uninformed, fearful, and resistant to receiving the  life-saving screening test. Other people are limited by financial means or geographic accessibility to the procedure. 

By working to increase public awareness around the value of the colonoscopy, we can continue to prevent and reduce colorectal cancer deaths around the world. By educating your friends and loved ones about the importance of colonoscopy, partaking in events such as #DressInBlueDay and National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, getting involved with organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition, and getting screened, yourself, you can help promote widespread change. 

See new infographics created by the Digestive Health Physicians Association below. To read stories about people’s experiences with colonoscopies and colorectal cancer, click here. To see our favorite online resources for promoting awareness, click here. To learn more about what exactly colorectal cancer is, click here.

The colonoscopy a historical timelineColorectal screening tests

An Overview of Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to spread awareness and learn more about the risks associated with colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. In the United States this year, an estimated 151,030 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and ​​an estimated 52,580 will die from the disease. 

Despite its significant rate of incidence, colorectal cancer is highly preventable through the use of screening tests. Gastroenterology Health Partners, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and Digestive Health Partners Association, recommends that those with an average risk start screenings at age 45. 

Of the colorectal cancer screening tests that we offer, colonoscopy remains the gold-standard of effectiveness and is strongly suggested for anyone eligible. Observational studies have suggested that colonoscopy can reduce colorectal cancer occurrence by 40% and mortality rates by 60%. 

If you’re considering scheduling a screening test, talk to an experienced gastroenterologist. They can help you make the right decision for your needs. 

Keep reading to learn about six commonly-offered colorectal cancer screening tests.

6 Common Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

1. Colonoscopy

As mentioned above, the colonoscopy is the best diagnostic tool available. This out-patient procedure involves the use of a thin, flexible tube with a camera to exam the lining of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities such as polyps. Some polyps can be removed with a scope during the procedure. Your doctor may also take tissue samples for analysis as well.

While the colonoscopy does require prep and recovery time, it is a fast, virtually risk-free procedure. Afterwards, your doctor will discuss your results with you and recommend whether you should be screened in 1, 5, or 10 years. To learn more about the colonoscopy, how it works, how to prepare, and more, read here

2. Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

Often considered the second choice after a colonoscopy, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) offers a non-invasive method for identifying colorectal cancer. The test, often performed at home, tests for hidden (occult) blood in the stool. This unnoticeable blood is often an early-sign of colorectal cancer. 

If you test positive for hidden blood during a FIT test, your doctor will want to perform another test, most likely a colonoscopy. FIT, unlike colonoscopy, is unable to actually identify or remove polyps and abnormal tissue. Therefore, the FIT is not really a viable “preventative” test and has a much lower accuracy rate. 

3. CT Colonography

The CT Colonography is also known as a “virtual colonoscopy.” This test uses a CT scan (a form of x-ray technology) to exam the colon for polyps. A small scope is inserted slightly into the colon to inflate it with air. Then, pictures are taken of the entire colon. The CT Colonography is highly effective, and, unlike a colonoscopy, it doesn’t require sedation. However, unlike a colonoscopy, this exam doesn’t actually remove precancerous polyps, it only can identify them.

4. Cologuard

Cologuard is another non-invasive, at-home colon screening test. Much like the FIT test, it looks at stool DNA samples. While Cologuard is generally more effective than FIT, it still doesn’t compare to the effectiveness of the colonoscopy–while colonoscopy is known to identify over 70% of precancerous polyps, Cologuard only identifies around 42%.

5. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a comparable procedure to the colonoscopy. It is an exam of the lower part of the colon using a small, flexible, lighted tube. The tube, called a flexible sigmoidoscope, has a camera which allows the doctor to view the inside of the rectum and the sigmoid colon—about the last two feet of the large intestine. Unlike a colonoscopy, this procedure does not allow the doctor to see the entire colon; any cancers or polyps far in the colon cannot be detected. 

6. Capsule Endoscopy

A capsule endoscopy is a procedure that examines the lining of the middle part of the small intestine, the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. This procedure is necessary because a standard endoscope or colonoscope cannot reach this part of the bowel. Capsule endoscopy is often used to search for causes of bleeding as well as detect polyps, tumors, ulcers, and IBD.

During this procedure, the patient will swallow a tiny pill containing a video camera, light source, and battery. The camera will take 2-3 pictures per second for up to 12 hours, traveling through the GI tract. The photos are saved automatically to a recording device and strung into a video. 

While capsule endoscopy is effective for detecting and documenting significant lesions attributed to conditions such as IBD, tumors, and ulcers, it is significantly less effective as a colon screening test compared to colonoscopy. 

 When it comes to colon cancer screenings, the experienced medical team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here to serve you. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Southern Indiana or Kentucky, contact a Gastroenterology Health Partners location near you.

Managing GERD Through Diet: Foods To Seek Out and To Avoid

We’ve all felt it after eating–that burning, uncomfortable feeling in the chest. Maybe you know it as heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux. While just about everyone experiences this sensation once in a while, there’s actually a significant number of people who suffer from it often. In fact, about 20% of the United States population experiences symptoms of chronic acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Besides being unpleasant and frustrating, GERD can lead to serious complications such as esophagitis or Barret’s esophagus

At this time, there is not a singular commonly-recognized cause of GERD. While some research associates it with obesity, smoking, certain medications, being pregnant, or genetic predisposition, it can really happen to anyone. Symptoms, besides heartburn, include nausea, pain or difficulty swallowing, regurgitation (when gastric contents re-enter the mouth or throat), burping, and a chronic cough. Symptoms of more serious complications from GERD can include loss of appetite, vomiting, blood in vomit or stool, increased pain or difficulty when swallowing, asthma, poor sleep, and weight loss. 

Common Treatments for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you’re diagnosed with GERD, you do have options for treatment. There are a variety of recommended over-the-counter and prescription medications that can neutralize or reduce stomach acid production. For those who wish to avoid long-term medication use, there are surgical options available as well.

Making certain lifestyle and dietary changes are considered essential to reduce symptoms of GERD. Slowing down the speed of eating, avoiding lying down right after eating, keeping your head elevated in bed, and avoiding tight clothes that put pressure on your chest or stomach are all said to improve symptoms for some. 

Foods To Limit Or Avoid If You Are Experiencing GERD

There are certain foods that are recommended for you to avoid if you have GERD. These foods can trigger or worsen symptoms of the disease. These include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Caffeine
  • Acidic fruits, like oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Spicy foods
  • Mint
  • Chocolate
  • Onion
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Garlic
  • High-sugar or high-fat foods
  • Fried or processed foods
  • Lactose, if you are lactose-intolerant

Foods To Incorporate Into Your Diet If You Are Experiencing GERD

On the other hand, there are certain foods that are often “safer” to consume for those experiencing GERD. These can include:

  • Non-citrus fruits, like apples, bananas, or melons
  • Oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grains
  • Root vegetables like potatoes or turnips
  • Water-dense vegetables like cucumber or celery
  • Low-acidic vegetables
  • Water and tea
  • Lean meats or fish

Of course, each person’s experience with acid reflux and GERD is unique. Foods affect each of us differently, so it’s important to monitor how you feel after consuming certain meals. Keeping a journal or notes tab on your phone of what “triggers” your symptoms can be a useful tool for you and your doctor. If you experience symptoms of GERD, the most important thing is to seek medical care–don’t self-diagnose or try to manage symptoms on your own. 

If you are suffering from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you. Our clinicians have a passion for seeking out and refining new treatments and advanced solutions for those suffering from disorders of the digestive system. For more information or to schedule a gastroenterological medical evaluation, contact a Gastro Health Partners location near you.

 

Can Weight Loss Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer?

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States. In 2018, 42.4% of American adults were found to be obese, an increase of over 12% since 2000. In 2020, 36.6% of adults in Kentucky and 36.8% of adults in Indiana were found to be obese.

Obesity is associated with an increased mortality rate as well as a variety of negative health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer. Obesity can impact your quality of life, harming mental health as well as physical. What’s more, obesity costs the American public over $150 billion in medical bills each year. 

How is Obesity Calculated? An Overview of BMI

Obesity is determined by BMI, or “body mass index,” a measurement of weight status based on height and weight. For adults, a BMI of less than 18.5 is underweight, a BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 is healthy weight, a BMI of 25.0 – 29.9 is overweight, and 30.0 and above is obese. You can measure your BMI using this online calculator created by the CDC. 

Being obese, or having a BMI of 30.0 and above, has been considered a risk factor of developing colorectal cancer for years. However, few studies to date have examined the effects of weight change, such as significant weight loss or gain, on the risk of developing cancer. 

The Latest Research on the Health Benefits of Weight Loss

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland found that weight loss may greatly reduce the risk of developing precancerous polyps (adenomas). They examined the effects of weight loss and weight gain throughout several periods of adulthood for 154,942 American adults. For those who were initially overweight and lost weight over time, the risk of developing certain types of adenomas was reduced by 46%. For those who gained weight in adulthood, the risk of developing adenomas was increased by 30%. Interestingly, these findings were generally more statistically significant in men than women. 

Why is obesity associated with higher risk of developing adenomas? One factor, as discussed by Dr. Kathryn Hughes Barry, a co-author of the study, is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity. “[Insulin resistance] can increase cell growth and reduce the chance of cell death, changes that are linked with increased chances of developing cancer. Insulin resistance may also lead to type 2 diabetes, which is considered an independent risk factor for colorectal cancer.” 

In addition to reducing the risk of developing precancerous polyps, losing weight in adulthood can improve your energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence, according to CDC data. Even modest weight loss can result in positive health benefits, such as improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you are interested in learning our tips for healthy weight loss, watch this informative video featuring Dr. Sunana Sohi of Gastroenterology Health Partners or check out the CDC’s step-by-step guide to healthy weight loss here.

In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, getting a regular colon cancer screening is another important practice in the prevention of colon cancer. When it comes to colon cancer screenings, the experienced medical team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here to serve you. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Southern Indiana or Kentucky, contact a Gastroenterology Health Partners location near you.

 

2022 Bottoms Up Bash

Gastro Health Partners is proud to sponsor the 11th Annual Bottoms Up Bash! This exceptional event, put on by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, is a celebration of progress in the fight against colon cancer and an opportunity to raise crucial funds for ending preventable colon cancer death and suffering in Southern Indiana and Kentucky.

What is the Colon Cancer Prevention Project?

Here’s some more information about the CCPP’s mission and work:

“The Colon Cancer Prevention Project founded in 2003 by Dr. Whitney Jones, a Louisville gastroenterologist with a passion for preventing colon cancer. Dr. Jones began the organization after diagnosing several patients with colon cancer within one week. Sick and tired of diagnosing patients with cancer that could have been prevented, he set out to make a change.

The Project began as a small grassroots organization with a large mission of eliminating preventable colon cancer death and suffering. It quickly grew to include work across Kentucky, Indiana, and the country. Before the Project, only 1 in 3 Kentuckians were getting life-saving colon cancer screenings. Now, about 2 in 3 Kentuckians are getting screened, and the incidence rate is down more than 25 percent. Kentucky is now nationally renowned for its work, which includes a state-wide screening program for low-income, uninsured people.

We are committed to educating our communities younger about the power they have to prevent colon cancer. The United States Preventative Services Task Force now recommends average-risk people begin screening at age 45 and those with a family history should screen at 40 or younger. With the help of partners across the state and WKYT, the Project is launching first-of-its-kind digital outreach campaigns to educate & empower our communities to get screened by reaching them on their phones and devices.

We continue to work to make screening more accessible to those who are uninsured and underinsured in our community by promoting free screening resources available through Kentucky Cancer LinkKentucky Cancer Program, and the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention Program.

The Bash is Back!

The 2022 Bottoms Up Bash will feature dinner, drinks, dancing, live music by the Crashers, and a silent auction. The event is on March 4, or Dress in Blue Day, and guests are encouraged to dress in their brightest blue to help kick off Colon Cancer Awareness Month. (Note: Event is ages 21+).

“All funds raised will go towards ending colon cancer death and suffering in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We can’t wait to see you there!” 

Learn more about this great event and buy tickets here: https://coloncancerpreventionproject.org/events/bottoms-up-bash-2021/

2022 Bottoms Up Bash is Sponsored by GHP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) is the largest independent Gastroenterology practice in the region providing care to children, teenagers, and adults across Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and surrounding communities. GHP has officially endorsed the Digestive Health Partners Association’s message that men and women between the ages of 45 and 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer. This endorsement is backed by the American Cancer Society which also recommends that individuals at average-risk of contracting colorectal cancer begin screenings at the age of 45. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience performing colonoscopies and other colorectal cancer screenings. 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 Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR)?

For decades, the screening colonoscopy has been recognized as the most effective modality to prevent and detect colorectal cancer. By identifying and  removing precancerous polyps (adenomas), colonoscopies save thousands of  lives each year. Regularly-scheduled screening colonoscopies are crucial for  adults aged 45 and older.  

However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness and quality of each colonoscopy varies from doctor to doctor. Different levels of education,  experience, and methodologies have been found to influence the “success” of a medical practitioner at performing screening colonoscopies. These case-by-case disparities ultimately led to a need for a standard of quality, a numerical  framework. In 2002, a Multi-Society Task Force was assembled to create just that: the adenoma detection rate, or ADR. ADR gives a percentage value to  each doctor’s levels of safety, quality, and thoroughness when performing a  colonoscopy.  

How does ADR work? ADR measures the average rate of precancerous polyps that a doctor identifies and removes in each colonoscopy. In the U.S., it has been  established that at least 30% of men and 20% of women aged 50+ should have  one or more adenoma found in a colonoscopy. It has been found that doctors  that meet or exceed these national quality benchmarks are generally more likely to prevent colorectal cancer, including advanced-stage or fatal cancer. In fact, even a marginally higher ADR can indicate a significant improvement in outcome. Likewise, doctors with lower-than-average ADRs have been connected with the  failure to identify cases of colorectal cancer.  

While the ADR is considered the “gold-standard” of evaluating endoscopic quality, it is not the only measure of a doctor’s ability to identify polyps. Other well-regarded quality metrics include practices such as: the quality of bowel  preparation; patient assessments; compliance rates with general screening  guidelines; rate of complications; cecal intubation rate; withdrawal time (the  amount of time a doctor should spend withdrawing the colonoscope at the end of  the procedure, which should be at least 6 minutes); and documentation of  informed consent. 

By meeting and exceeding these standards of safety and thoroughness, your doctor directly improves your chance of identifying or preventing colorectal  cancer. Therefore, it’s not rude or uncommon to ask about your doctor’s ADR,  withdrawal time, or other procedures that ensure a quality colonoscopy. These  are serious, relevant questions that can aid in your decision to choose a gastroenterologist.  

Our board-certified team of gastroenterologists has addressed many common concerns related to colonoscopies on our website. Click on any of the questions below to see complete answers: 

  1. When should I get a colonoscopy? Isn’t 45 too young?
  2. What should I expect from my colonoscopy? How should I prepare for it? What happens during and after?
  3. Where can I read about someone else’s experience with colon cancer? 
  4. I tend to be constipated. How should I prepare for my colonoscopy?
  5. Why should I get a colonoscopy instead of other screening tests? What makes it more effective? (Video)
  6. What’s the difference between a screening colonoscopy, Cologuard, and other screening tests? (Video)

The experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is committed to making every patient’s experience with a colonoscopy as easy and effective as possible. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you.

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.