Digestive disorders affect over 100 million people in USA. For some people, the disorder causes mild symptoms of discomfort and some inconvenience; while for others, it causes severe symptoms that can be debilitating.
The digestive system also known asthe gastrointestinal tract is essentially a muscular tube that takes in food to be broken down so you may absorb the nutrient components.
The digestive system is over 20 feet long and is the size of a tennis court.
Digestion begins in the mouth by the salivary glands. These glands make enzymes to help breakdown your food. This is why it’s important to chew your food very thoroughly. Also, what helps activates these glands and other organs of the digestive system, isthe brain. A long nerve called the Vagus nerve comes off the brainstem and runs down and innervates all the organs (stomach, small and large intestines, colon, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder) of the digestive system.
Once swallowed food reaches the stomach after being pushed down the esophagus, the food mixes with hydrochloric acid (HCL) and enzymes produced by the stomach lining to begin digestion. This lining produces a layer of mucus to protect itself from the acid. The stomach also functions to store partially digested food, chyme, for processing later by the small intestines’.
After the food molecules leave the stomach, chyme moves intoduodenum, the first part of small intestines, where it is mixed with bile produced by the liver and pancreatic juicesby the pancreas. Bile acidacts as mixing agent on the chyme while the pancreas juice containing numerous digestive enzymes further breaks down fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Excess bile is stored in the gallbladder.
The small intestines consist of 3 parts: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Digestion and absorption occurs throughout the entire length of the small intestines. Absorption occurs mostly in the intestinal (inner) wall of the small intestineswith the help of Villi and microvilli(finger-like projections).
The large intestines consist of the cecum, the colon (ascending,transverse, descending, and sigmoid) and the rectum. See diagram below.
As undigested material enters the large intestine, water and electrolytes are absorbed. The remaining waste is stored, formed and expelled.
As you read above, the digestive system is not simple!
This is why prescription drugs (steroids, antibiotics, laxatives, opioids’, acid blocking drugs) are not the answer. For they onlymanage the symptoms for a short period until surgery is eventually required. Note, chronic antibiotics can be the root cause of a digestive disorder or it can make a mild digestive issue worse in the long run. In fact, research has shown 1 single dose an antibiotic can destroynearly 100% of your Bifidobacterium (friendly bacteria in the gut is needed to support your immune system).
Dr. Serle has helped hundreds of patients with IBS, Crohn’s disease, Gastritis, Heartburn, Celiac, and SIBO.
Dr. Serle may order a comprehensive digestive stoolto see how your gut is functioning. This test is specifically test the function of the digestive system.
A comprehensive digestive stool test by a specialty lab tells:
- How much friendly and bad bacteria are in your gut?
- Do you have enough digestive enzymes to break down protein?
- Are you absorbing and digesting your food in the small intestine?
- Do you have leaky gut (intestinal permeability)?
- Do you have a hidden bacterial or fungi infection?
- Do you have inflammation in the gut?
A Colonoscopy only examines the structure of the gut
Dr. Serle does recommend that a symptomatic person have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopylooks for structural damage in colon. It helps rule out polyps and cancer. A Colonoscopy does not tell about how the digestive system is functioning.The test only analyzes the large intestine, for the scope does not reach the small intestines.
Dr. Serle may ordera neurotransmitter test, which analyzes a person’s serotonin and dopamine levels. The imbalance of these neurotransmittersmay play a rolein why a person is suffering from bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation.
Dr. Serle may perform a stress test called Heart Rate Variability. Since stress plays a role in people with digestive conditions.
A patient with a digestive disorder should know their food triggers. This is why Dr. Serle orders a food sensitivity test for his patients. Theblood test evaluates 184 foods for an immune reaction (an increase to the immune cell called IgG) that may irritate gut and cause inflammation. This test is different than a food allergy test. A food allergy causes an immediate symptomto a food, within an hour and half. A food sensitivity causes a delayed symptomto a food, 1 day to 3 days.