Trust your gut — because it affects the state of your physical and mental health, on a scale and scope you would never have imagined. In fact, problems in the digestive system have been linked to a surprising number and variety of chronic health problems from eczema toautismtocancer. The enteric nervous system embedded in the gastrointestinal system is referred to as the second brain because of how it operates independently and in communication with the brain, and its extensive role in how the entire body functions.
The bacteria that live in your gut (there are about 100 trillion of them) are an entire ecosystem by themselves, and they’re a seriously busy population. They help you digest your food. While they play a key role in allowing the body to absorb key nutrients, they’re also in charge of eliminating toxins from your system. They affect the production and behavior of hormones, among other things.
When your primary care physician refers you to gastroenterologists Howell NJ experts say the following can be possible reasons why you need to see a specialist:
- Certain medications you are taking may be making your digestive problems worse. Statistics show that overuse of some of the most popular over-the-counter drugs in the U.S. have been linked to worsening of intestinal disorders. These drugs include antibiotics, acid blockers, anti-pain and anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, and even the very medications you take for digestive problems.
- The food you eat may be affecting your digestive function. If your diet is similar to the modern Western diet, then most likely it will be rich in refined sugar, processed ingredients and empty calories, and low in nutrients and fiber. This type of diet leads to gut issues because it promotes the growth of yeast and bad bacteria.
- Your mood swings, mental health or behavior problems may be linked to your digestive tract situation. That gut-wrenching feeling or the butterflies in your stomach are real — caused by the serotonin imbalance. Serotonin is a type of chemical in the body that affects your mood, desires, sleep, memory and behavior. It’s cultivated by the bacteria that live in your digestive tract. If these bacteria are out of whack, your serotonin levels decrease, leading to various complications, including memory problems, depression, dementia and autism.
A consultation with a reputable gastroenterologist will help identify the gut health issues you might have through diagnostic exams and advanced testing such as colonoscopy. Once the core issue is determined, a treatment plan will be developed for you to get your gastrointestinal health — and your mental and physical health — back to good shape.