12 Mar Assessing Your Digestive Health
Your digestive system is important for so many reasons. You need it to:
- Absorb your body’s building blocks.
- Eliminate your body’s waste materials.
- Enhance your immune system.
- Support your mental health.
- And the list goes on!
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays such an important part of your overall health, so how do you if it’s functioning properly?
Well, your body is pretty good at letting you know. In fact, the GI tract’s role is so precious, it’s almost impossible to ignore the signs that say something’s wrong, because it will find new and creative ways to get your attention – kind of like a child, or a cat.
Symptoms – Your symptoms are a good starting point for self-evaluation of your digestive health. Is your digestive tract talking to you? Is it maybe even screaming for help? Experiencing the following regularly is a sign that you take steps towards healing your gut.
- Urge to go without being able to go
- Pain – before, during, and/or after bowel movements
- Bloating, gas, and/or reflux after meals
And if you ignore these ones long enough, you may find yourself experiencing:
- Bad breath
- Unexplained headaches
- Acne, rashes, and other skin issues that pop up out of nowhere
- Or worse.
Medical History – Your medical history in combination with your symptoms, gives your healthcare provider an indication of the cause of your digestive problem(s). Have you experienced this before? Has there been any damage to the area? Does anyone in your family experience the same thing? Do you notice anything that makes it better or worse? These are all helpful questions to know the answers to when seeking care.
Testing – Testing allows your doctor to get more objective information about the cause of your digestive ailments. Here are some examples of testing that can be done.
- Elimination Diet – low cost way to look for potential food sensitivities
- Blood Tests – for food sensitivities, celiac disease, autoimmune conditions
- Stool Testing – for parasites, bacterial overgrowth
- Breath Test – for SIBO, H. Pylori
- Scope – for Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis
Now you may feel that your digestive discomfort is “tolerable”, “not that bad”, or “no big deal”. But let me tell you that if your digestive tract is talking to you, you should listen and take steps towards healing it. Untreated digestive health issues can lead to long-term inflammation in your gut and elsewhere in your body – and inflammation is a major contributor to many chronic illnesses.
Digestive health plays a key role in overall long-term health which is why I’m so passionate about it! As a healthcare provider, your long-term wellness and health are my priority! As a doctor I have the tools to assess and test your digestive system. And as a naturopath, I offer holistic treatment.
Dr. Catherine Newry is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Toronto who focuses on helping her patients to learn how to improve their health and feel more comfortable with their bodies.