by Joan Haynes, NMD
Often people suffer from digestive problems for years without realizing how it’s affecting their other problem, their inability to lose weight. Metabolism and food cravings are seriously impacted by a poorly working digestive tract and treating gut problems can be the missing link for successful weight loss.
Instead of going on another white-knuckle diet, fix what is fundamentally wrong with your gastrointestinal system and watch the pounds fall off. Not only will you be slimmer, you will have more energy and will get rid of some of your other chronic symptoms.
Symptoms of Poor Digestive Function
1. Unwanted weight gain or weight loss
2. Constipation and/or diarrhea
3. Reactions to a growing list of foods
4. Bloating, belching, gas, cramp
5. Heartburn and reflux
6. Skin breakouts
7. Low libido, poor sexual functioning
8. Depression and/or anxiety
9. Brain fog
10. Respiratory issues
11. Frequent infections
12. Muscle/joint achiness
13. Autoimmune disease
How to Repair Your Digestion
If you’ve got weight that is hard to get off and keep off, you may need to assess the various causes of your inflamed “leaky gut”. Often more than one factor is involved:
a. Identify food sensitivities thru blood tests or formal elimination diet.
b. Eat an “anti-inflammatory diet” and consider anti-inflammatory supplements
- Bad Bugs / Good Bugs
a. Test for and treat gut infections such as parasites, bacteria, fungus and viruses. Read about how we can test.
b. Boost the healthy microbiome with fermented foods and probiotics,
- Digestive juices
a. Assess and treat low levels of hydrochloric acid, bile, and digestive enzymes.
a. Test neurotransmitter production to treat anxiety and depression.
b. Learn relaxation practices.
a. Test hormones which play a big role in body function – thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol.
It’s Not All in Your Head!!
Having trouble sticking with your good eating and exercise routine? Our digestive tract breaks down food into absorbable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats. When digestion is poorly functioning, malabsorption of these important nutrients results in fatigue, depression, and pain such as headaches and achiness, which then counteracts motivation for eating well and exercising. If you don’t fix your digestion, there is little hope for long term weight loss.
90% of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, is produced by cells that line the intestine. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract will damage the serotonin-producing cells making levels drop. People with low serotonin are often tired and depressed making them reach for foods high in carbs and making motivation for exercise difficult.
You Don’t Have to do it Alone
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, naturopathic medicine and functional medicine are great options because we take a whole-body approach. Yes, calories matter, but often there is more to the story. Optimizing digestive function as well as assessing hormones and neurotransmitter function can help curb cravings and speed up a sluggish metabolism.