There is this age old notion that calorie counting is the only way to lose weight. Most people think that if they just consume less calories, they can easily lose weight. Unfortunately, weight loss is a very complex process that involves a healthy gut. The term “digestive issues” is broad, so let’s talk about what qualifies as a digestive issues. Some of the most common digestive issues that appear in my office are acid reflux, bloating, belching, ulcers, constipation and/or diarrhea. Just because these things may be your normal daily body responses do not make them physiologically normal. Acid reflux means that hydrochloric acid from the stomach is burning the lining of the stomach’s mucous membranes. Why does this pose a problem? The stomach lining should be very thick/viscous; when this thick mucous membrane is thinned out from irritation or has inflammation, it will change how food is digested. The small food particles are often not processed appropriately as the lining has changed and so the cravings for food goes up. Another way to say this is undigested food due to stomach irritation will leave the body thinking it didn’t really get nutrients. The body’s hormonal signaling systems start to get confused when this happens and the cravings start to develop. Some of you might be reading this thinking well I take tums or omeprazole or pantoprazole so I am fine right? Not in the least! In fact, using acid blockers can actually block the ability to digest food. The stomach needs an acidic environment to digest food, if the acid is being blocked, the food can’t be broken down as efficiently. Belly bloating is a side effect of having acid reflux or even using proton pump inhibitors. Outside of acid reflux aka gastritis, bloating is another common digestive ailment that can create weight gain. Bloating occurs in the small intestine due to bacterial colonies that are producing methane or hydrogen atoms. Bacterial imbalance in the small bowel will cause bloat. This becomes a problem because 95% of nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine; if the small intestine has poor gut bacteria, absorption of food goes down. The theme is this; whenever the absorption goes down, the body will say, “do it again, feed me again because I did not get the signal that I am actually absorbing things I need to grow and repair tissue.” If you have been struggling to lose weight with diet and exercise, your digestive system needs to be repaired.
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