Stomach and GI

“Every living organism has to have two fundamental abilities: to bring in substances which provide energy and sustenance and to remove waste from the organism.  We are exposed to innumerable substances in our environment simply by breathing, eating, drinking, working and playing.  It is crucial that our bodies identify substances that are necessary to maintain health, absorb these substances into our body and circulate these throughout our circulatory system, where they can nourish all the cells of the body while protecting it from harmful substances from entering into circulation.  It must also be able to eliminate waste and toxins which result from normal metabolism.”[1] 1)1. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189. – See more at: http://sanjosefuncmed.com/stomach-gi-health/#sthash.5ovZsEqN.dpuf

pesticide-sprayingIntroduction

Over a lifetime, a person will consume over 25 tons of food, providing the body with nutrients through the digestion and absorption process.  During this process, the body must maintain protection from innumerable harmful external organisms and toxins that often accompany food.  For example, in 1999 alone, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides were applied to U.S. crops and over 5.6 billion pounds were applied worldwide.[2] 2)2. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189.  Pesticides are now a ubiquitous component of our environment and can be found within the home, in home gardens and our food we buy at the grocery store.  While eating organic foods can greatly reduce our pesticide exposure, this does not guarantee elimination of pesticides.  A 2001 review on toxin exposure indicated that the expense of managing environmentally-related conditions accounts for between $57 billion to $397 billion of the healthcare economy annually in the U.S and Canada.[3]  Clearly, the ability to protect ourselves against these harmful compounds relies on a healthy digestive and absorptive system.

child-eating-fruitUnfortunately, pesticides and pollutants are not the only harmful compounds that can accompany our food.  Pathogens, such as harmful bacteria and parasites, can also be present in our food, causing various forms of stomach and gastrointestinal complaints.  Then there are food allergies and sensitivities which are becoming increasingly common and growing at an alarming rate.  Food allergies are estimated to affect 8% (almost 1 in 10) children worldwide.[4]  Food allergies and intolerances account for a wide range of symptoms, from migraines and skin problems to neurological, inflammatory and gastrointestinal disorders.

Below are the most common disorders that result from the primary organs of the GI tract, including the stomach, small intestine and large intestine.  You can click on the specific condition you are inGI_tractterested in reading about which will take you to a separate page with information devoted to this disorder.  For each disorder, you will find information on common signs and symptoms associated with the condition, prevalence, pathogenesis (how people develop the disorder), assessment, conventional protocols, and how the condition is managed in functional medicine.  For a review of the basic anatomy and functions of the digestive system, click here: Functions of Gastrointestinal Tract.

Common Stomach Disordersintestines-orange

  1. Hypochlorhydria (Low Stomach Acid)
  2. Gastritis
  3. Atrophic Gastritis
  4. Autoimmune Gastritis
  5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  6. Adverse Effects of PPIs
  7. Gastric (Peptic) Ulcer and Duodenal Ulcer Disease

Common Intestinal Disorders

  1. Intestinal Permeability/Leaky Gut
  2. NSAID-Induced Enteropathy
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  4. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  6. Celiac Disease
  7. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Gut Connections wiorgan-systemsth Other Organs

One of the things we learn in our medical training is that the body is composed of separate organs and organ systems that operate independently and are not closely related and this makes us inefficient in managing disorders related to these organ systems.  We all learn neurology, immunology, and gastroenterology as separate systems that can be studied independently but they really aren’t separate systems that can be fully appreciated if they are studied in isolation.  The organs systems of the body are all interconnected and inter-influential.  All the organs of the body communicate and influence other organs and the gut is no exception.  In fact, the gut communicates with possibly every other organ in the body.  Recent research has discovered some very interesting connections between the gut and several other organ systems, including the liver, immune system, brain and thyroid.  For an interesting review of some of this research on how the gut communicates with these organs, click here: Gut Connections with Other Organs

Related Articles:

Functions of Gastrointestinal Tract

Gut Connections with Other Organs

The Neuroendocrine System of the Gut and the Brain-Gut Axis

References:

1. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189.

2. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189.

3. Muir T, Zegarac M. Societal costs of exposure to toxic substances: economic and health costs of four cases studies that are candidates for environmental causation. Environ Health Perspect. 2001;109(suppl 6):885-903.

4. Fogg MI, Spergel JM. Management of food allergies. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2003;4:1025-1037.

References   [ + ]

1. 1. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189. – See more at: http://sanjosefuncmed.com/stomach-gi-health/#sthash.5ovZsEqN.dpuf
2. 2. Jones, David, Editor in Chief. Textbook of Functional Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine, 2006. p.189.