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Help with Digestive Issues

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Digestive Conditions

Bacterial Overgrowth of Small Intestine
Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine is a serious digestive disorder that can inhibit nutrient absorption and lead to many health problems. Although widespread, it is frequently unsuspected in cases of chronic bowel problems and carbohydrate intolerance because its symptoms often mimic other disorders. Often this condition is associated with reduced intestinal motility- a slower transit of foodstuffs through the bowels caused by fiber inadequacy or digestive imbalances. A simple, non-invasive test is available to detect bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, a common condition that often underlies chronic symptoms of maldigestion and malabsorption, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, irregularity, and abdominal pain. Because bacterial overgrowth may sometimes manifest silently without any overt clinical signs, even patients without clear symptoms of gastro-intestinal distress may benefit from testing. Without proper detection and treatment, unsuspected overgrowth can gradually lead to systemic disorders such as altered intestinal permeability ("leaky gut"), anemia and weight loss, progressive bone thinning, poor digestive function, bacterial translocation (causing immune dysfunction and toxic overload), and malnutrition.
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Celiac Disease
Also known as gluten intolerance, the symptoms of Celiac Disease may range from classic features, like diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to more latent symptoms like isolated nutritional deficiencies yet no gastrointestinal symptoms. It is a genetic disorder that affects between 1 in 150 to 1 in 250 Americans.
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Crohn's Disease
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. It results in ulceration of the small and large intestines, however, it may affect any part of the digestive system. It is named after the physician who first described the disease in 1932. It is also known as Granulomatous enteritis, Regional enteritis, or Terminal ileitis. Crohn's Disease is found in men and women alike, often affecting young patients in their teens or early twenties. Once the disease begins, it tends to be a chronic, recurrent condition with periods of remission followed by periods of exacerbation. There is a tendency for familial members to suffer with the disease.
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Candida / Candidiasis*
Candida Albicans is a type of yeast-like fungus that inhabits the intestine, genital tract, mouth, and throat. Normally, this fungus lives in a healthy balance with the other bacteria and yeasts in the body; however, certain conditions can cause this fungus to multiply, weakening the immune system and causing an infection known as candidiasis. Because this fungus travels through the bloodstream to many parts of the body, various symptoms may develop.
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The definition of diarrhea depends on what is normal for you. For some, diarrhea can be as little as one loose stool per day. Others may have three daily bowel movements normally and not be having what they consider diarrhea. So the best description of diarrhea is "an abnormal increase in the frequency and liquidity of your stools. The average adult has a bout of diarrhea about four times a year. Symptoms usually start with crampy, abdominal pain followed by diarrhea. When diarrhea last more than 2 weeks, the condition is known as chronic diarrhea.
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Dysbiosis is a A state of imbalance of the intestinal flora (bacteria and other micro-organisms), which may lead to excessive bacterial fermentation in the gut and 'autointoxication' from endotoxins (toxins produced by undesirable bacteria within the body). Dysbiosis is promoted by the consumption of antibiotics, which destroy 'friendly' bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) much more readily than undesirable putrefactive varieties such as E coli and Clostridium. A reduced ability to produce gastric acid may also lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Such an overgrowth may promote nutrient malabsorption, particularly that of vitamin B12. One common form of dysbiosis is candidiasis, where the intestinal tract becomes colonized by the yeast Candida albicans. Natural treatment for dysbiosis and conditions promoted by autointoxication include herbal antimicrobials, gut healing products, and probiotics together with an appropriate dietary program
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Diverticulosis occurs when individuals develop small pouches in their colon that bulge outward through weak spots, almost like an inner tube that pokes through weak places in a tire. These pouches are called diverticula. Diverticular disease is common in developed or industrialized countries--particularly the United States, England, and Australia--where low-fiber diets are common. The disease is rare in countries of Asia and Africa, where people eat high-fiber vegetable diets. It is thought that half of all Americans age 60 to 80, and almost everyone over age 80, have diverticulosis. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches become infected or inflamed. This happens in 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis. Diverticulitis can develop suddenly and without warning.
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Food Allergy
Food allergy or food intolerance affect a lot of people today. When they have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate, they often think that they have an allergy to the food. In fact, only about 3% of adults and 6%-8% of children have clinically proven true allergic reactions to food.
This difference between the prevalence of clinically proven food allergy and the public's perception of the problem is due mainly to misinterpreting food intolerance or other adverse reactions to food as food allergy. A true food allergy is an abnormal response to food that is triggered by a specific reaction in the immune system and expressed by certain, often characteristic, symptoms.
Other kinds of reactions to foods that are not food allergies are food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), food poisoning, and toxic reactions. Food intolerance is also an abnormal response to food, and its symptoms may resemble those of food allergy. Food intolerance, however, is far more common. it occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy.
People who have food allergies must identify and prevent them because, although usually mild and not severe, these reactions can cause devastating illness and, in rare instances, may be life threatening.
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Gastritis is a mild irritation, inflammation, or infection of the stomach lining. It may be a sudden attack or chronic. It can occur early in childhood and remain throughout life. The infection can lead to ulcers and, in later life, even to stomach cancer in some people. Fortunately, there are now ways to make the diagnosis and treat this disorder. The chief symptoms are chronic upper abdominal cramping and pain, fullness and discomfort, nausea and vomiting, acid regurgitation particularly after meals, diarrhea, loss of appetite, belching and gas, fever and weakness. Mild hemorrhage of upper digestive tract may occur in some cases. Severe atrophic gastritis may be accompanied with anemia and pathologic leanness.
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Gastro enteritis
Only the digestive system is equipped to process food. Once a particular food escapes the system it is tagged as an antigen. The body shows its displeasure with bloating and gas. Besides this response food sensitivities have also been implicated in a number of other digestive problems, including constipation and diarrhea. On occasion inflammation of the inside lining of the stomach and intestines occurs - gastroenteritis. Gatroenteritis is the inflammation of the inside lining of the stomach and intestines. It often describes a sudden infection that affects the stomach and intestines. Gastroenteritis can also be caused by chemical or toxin exposure.
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GERD / Acid Reflux
Acid Reflux Disease or "GERD," are both names for the same disease and mean the same thing. GERD is simply short for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease. Acid reflux disease can interfere with your lifestyle, disrupt your sleep, and have you worrying about long-term damage. There are several symptoms. The primary one is heartburn - the painful, burning sensation in your chest. (Some people report chest pains, mistaking heartburn for a heart attack.) Other signs and symptoms can include difficulty swallowing that may make even a favorite meal hard to get down. There is also belching and regurgitation. In some people, the regurgitation of acid can also damage tooth enamel. Some people also have symptoms that resemble other respiratory conditions, such as sore throat, wheezing, chronic coughing, and hoarseness.
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Strong evidence suggests that IBD results from an abnormal or exaggerated intestinal immune response against stimuli (e.g., bacteria) that have not yet been identified. There is increasing evidence, derived mainly from animal models of IBD, that bacteria normally present in the digestive tract (known as the intestinal flora) are promoting an abnormal immune response by immune cells in the intestine. Preliminary studies suggest that bacteria known as probiotics may regulate the intestinal flora, thereby suppressing the inflammatory response in the gut of IBD patients.
Excerpts from "Research Update - Progress in Inflammatory Bowel Disease" Charles A. Sninsky, M.D. & Jeffry A. Katz, M.D. Under the Microscope- Research News Bulletin, CCFA 2001.
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Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut
Increased permeability of the intestinal mucosal barrier can increase the number of toxins & antigens entering the bloodstream and lead to an overly sensitized immune system in some people. Decreased permeability, on the other hand, appears as a fundamental cause of malnutrition, malabsorption and failure to thrive. The small intestine has the dual function of being a digestive & absorptive organ for nutrients as well as a major barrier against excessive absorption of bacteria, food antigens and large molecules. A number of clinical disorders are associated with both conditions. A test is available to assess whether intestinal permeability is present.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a very common bowel disorder affecting people of all ages and backgrounds, including children. (Don't be too quick to dismiss complaints of stomach pain by your children - even if they don't like school). IBS is characterized by some combination of abdominal pain, altered bowel function (either constipation, diarrhea or alternating), hyper secretion of colonic mucous, and symptoms of indigestion (bloating, flatulence and nausea). The symptoms may range from occasionally bothersome to disabling, causing sufferers to always have to have a bathroom location on their minds.
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Leaky Gut Syndrome / Intestinal Permeability
Leaky Gut Syndrome is not a disease but an intestinal dysfunction that can underlie many different illnesses and symptoms. It can be caused by poor food choices, insufficient pancreatic digestive enzymes, chronic stress, environmental contaminants, gastrointestinal disease, immune overload, too much alcohol, dysbiosis, and longtime use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAID's, steroids, antacids, and antibiotics are probably the greatest contributors to leaky gut syndrome. Birth Control pills and steroid drugs exacerbate the situation. Chemo-drugs and radiation therapy can also disrupt GI tract balance significantly.
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The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) strikes over 16 million Americans, and is a major cause of disability among older individuals. Typically osteoarthritis presents as pain, stiffness, or swelling in joints such as the hip, hand, and knee or spine, but it may affect other joints as well. Women run a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis than men, and other risk factors include heredity, excess weight, joint injury, and hormonal imbalances. Although many people associate osteoarthritis with the "natural" wear and tear of joint cartilage, there are actually a variety of physiological factors that play an important role in the prevention, monitoring, and treatment of this condition. Recently, investigators have strongly emphasized the importance of working to undo actual degenerative mechanisms in the body rather than simply treating symptoms with anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics.
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Other Digestive Conditions
Digestive conditions plague nearly 70 million Americans. With few exceptions, the epidemic of digestive illness is directly related to the diet and lifestyle decisions we make on a daily basis. Recent research has revealed that 60 percent of the immune system is located in or around the digestive system. Also, more nerve endings are located in our digestive system than in our spine. This puts "butterflies in the tummy" into a whole new perspective, and explains the direct connection between stress and every aspect of digestion.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis, a dysfunctional immune response causes the joints of the body to become inflamed, leading to severe stiffness and acute and/or chronic pain. An excess of synovial fluid around the joints also contributes to swelling and lack of mobility. All joints are affected by the disease, especially the wrist and hand joints.
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Short Bowel Syndrome
Short bowel syndrome or SBS is one of the most serious complications of surgical treatments for Crohn's disease. It is a result of the loss of a significant part of the small intestine (small bowel) due to disease or surgery. Crohn's disease is the leading cause of Short Bowel Syndrome. It can also be caused by other diseases or traumatic injury to the small intestine.
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Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the colon, the large intestine, which is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the innermost lining of the colon. Symptoms include diarrhea (with or without rectal bleeding) and often accompanied by abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis may affect only the lowest part of the colon, the rectum, ie ulcerative proctitis. If the disease affects only the left side of the colon, it is called limited or distal colitis. If it involves the entire colon, it is called pancolitis.
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