Gastrointestinal System

As functional medicine-trained physician, we recognize the crucial interaction between the gastrointestinal tract (gut), the immune system, the brain and spinal cord, and the signaling that occurs in the rest of the body. Evidence-based medicine is slowly uncovering the wonders and the connection between the microbiome of our bodies and how it affects our hormones, mood, and genome. The emerging fields of Enteric Neuroscience, Psychoneuroimmunology, and the Human Microbiome project are coming out with new advances every day, including that there is a microbiome of our cerebrospinal fluid!

What are the vital contributions of our gut?

  • It contains ten times more cells than the rest of our body.
  • It houses and aides the regulation of >70% of our immune system
  • It is responsible for >75% of our neurotransmitter production
  • It houses a genome that is 100X greater than the human genome
  • It has more metabolic activity than our liver
  • It organizes and coordinates metabolism and detoxification before compounds ever reach our cells

We are learning, every day, how vital the proper functioning and composition of our gut is to our overall health. The gut is a major contributor to our feelings of health and disease. Our goal is to teach you how nutrition and lifestyle factors influence our gut and thus the rest of our health. We are more than just what we eat. The science of nutrigenomics teaches us that our food choices are more than just 'calories', they are the signals to our DNA about the state of our environment, our state of wellness, our emotions and our overall well-being. We will use the Institute for Functional Medicine's 5R Program for restoration of gut health: 

  1. Remove: Remove stressors: get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract including allergic foods, parasites and potential problematic bacteria or yeast. This might involve using an allergy “elimination diet” to find out what foods are causing GI symptoms, or it may involve taking medications or herbs to eradicate a particular bug 
  2. Replace: Replace digestive secretions: add back things like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion and that may be compromised by diet, medications, diseases, aging, or other factors. 
  3. Reinoculate: Help beneficial bacteria flourish by ingesting probiotic foods or supplements that contain the “good” GI bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, and by consuming the high soluble fiber foods that good bugs like to eat, called prebiotics. Prebiotics are food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms already in the colon. In other words, prebiotics feed probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms found in the gut that are also called “friendly bacteria.”  Probiotics in the form of supplements or food are often needed to help re-establish a balanced gut flora.
  4. Repair: Help the lining of the GI tract repair itself by supplying key nutrients that can often be in short supply in a compromised gut, such as zinc, antioxidants, fish oil, and the amino acid glutamine. 
  5. Rebalance: It is important to pay attention to lifestyle choices. Sleep, exercise, and stress can all affect the GI tract. Balancing those activities is important to an optimal digestive tract.