Gastrointestinal Ask Me Archives


Question:
I wish to know if there are any nutrient supplements that can be used for gastritis or ulcerative colitis or general prevention of gastric problems. Particularly does beta-carotene play any role in these situations?
I wish to know if beta-carotene or similar nutrients can be taken prophylactically for general good health of the GI tract. What is your view on L-arginine, NAC, Glutamine, melatonin, isoflavonoids and trace elements?

Answer:
Beta carotene is not one that is usually associated with GI health. UC is a difficult problem, but yes, there are many things that can help, provided you have a logical and systematic approach.
Beta carotene is not specific for the GI tract. There is no harm to take beta carotene, unless you are a smoker, in which case low dose is not good and actually can increase lung cancer risk. For general health, beta carotene 10-20,000 IU is fine.
L-arginine is a precursor to nitrous oxide, the most potent vasodilator in the body. It therefore is helpful in cardiovascular system enhancement as well as a potential “viagra” substitute. Note that high doses are required, about 4-6 grams a day, together with vitamin C.
Melatonin is an excellent antioxidant. Most people are unaware of its fantastic use. I use it routinely, not for sleeping and circadian cycle management, but for cancer, especially breast cancer. Interestingly, melatonin?s effect is not dose dependant. Dosages of 0.5 to 50 mg are very safe.
NAC is a precursor to glutathione and is very good in helping the liver’s detoxification process.
Isofavonoids are good, but don’t overdo it, as the latest research is showing mixed results.
Trace elements are a gray zone. Some people can benefit. You can get blood test for trace element analysis prior to proceeding.
As you can see, each nutrient has specific function. There are over 1000 specialized nutrients out there, and depending on your goal, normally only 10 is enough. Overtaking may not be good, and there can be undesirable interactions, not to mention the binders and fillers in each pill.


Question:
I’ve been on chlorestral medicine for 16 years. My chlorestral is 198 but my stomach bothers me every night after taking it. Every test for other causes has proven negative. What do you think of the following instead of the Statin drugs (40 mg lipator)?
Beta Sitosterol …300 mg – 4 pills a day
No flush niacin 500 mg–2 caps daily
Red yeast Rice 600 mg. 2 caps daily half in AM half in PM
Others have had good results but I need a Doctors opinion.

Answer:
Niacin and sitosterol can be helpful. Read yeast rice extract should be taken 3 times a day, but it has been banned by the FDA for over a year now. Be careful of what you are getting now as some people are still marketing it when they should not, or they are selling the powder which is not effective compare to the extract. Other nutrients you should consider include guccolipid and polycosinal. Please pay attention especially to the triglyceride and normalize it. (Read here for more info: Triglyceride) Many doctors simply focus on lowering LDL, and the use of statin drugs has sky-rocketted. Bear in mind that if you have high trigylceride, the total cholesterol will increase automatically. Simply bringing down LDL with statin drugs without reducing trigylceride with simple dietary measures of grains elimination will seldom be effective long term in maintaining low total cholesterol level. Furthermore, as time goes on, you need stronger and stronger statin drugs. More on statin drugs here: Cholesterol Lowers Drug Kills


Question:
I have Ulcerative Colitis (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). What are the low residue foods that I can eat as I am not a meat eater and most of my food consists of vegetables and fruits? Can I eat desserts like Cinnamon Rolls, donuts, cakes?

Answer:
If you cooked your vegetables and fruits to soften the fiber, then the food has less residue. Protein food such as tofu, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are mild to the bowel. It is OK to each of the deserts that you mentioned, but do keep in mind of the harm of high sugar and fat in these food can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and high cholesterol.


Question:
I am a clergyman, fully active at 65. I have a long-standing problem with halitosis. This seriously interferes with my counseling ministry. I am fairly well convinced by now that that principal source is gastrointestinal rather than oral. If I should (constantly) take a breath freshener, what kind is best? If there is some other “doable” solution, what is it?

Answer:
Halitosis can be the end result of poor dental hygiene and gum disease as well as from a variety of sources including throat infection, improper diet, indigestion, inadequate protein digestion, liver malfunction, postnasal drip, stress, or imbalance of normal flora in the colon.
Toxins produced by unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut can be absorbed, which can cause a significant disruption of bodily functions. Examples of such toxins include endotoxins and exotoxins from bacteria, toxic amines, toxic derivatives from bile and many carcinogens. These toxins have been implicated in many diseases including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, psoriasis, lupus, pancreatitis, allergies, asthma and immune disorders.
In addition, antibodies formed against microbial molecules (antigens) can “cross-react” with the body’s own cellular structure. This in turn causes autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, diabetes and autoimmune thyroiditis.
The solution is to follow a diet rich in fiber, particularly water-soluble fibers such as those found in vegetables, guar gum, pectin and oat bran. Fiber has the ability to eliminate toxins from the gut and promote their excretion. The replacement of healthy bacteria such as acidophilus is also helpful. Large doses of Vitamin C also have anti-bacterial and phagocytic effects, in addition to being a laxative.
From a nutritional perspective, important nutrients that can help with this condition include oat bran, psyillium husks, chorophyll (such as wheatgrass, alfafa, barley juice) and vitamin C. Replenishing the body with proper amount of probiotics and digestive enzymes are also very important. Coenzyme Q10 is an excellent nutrient for gum diseases.
From a diet perspective, try to go on a five-day raw food diet, with 50% of your food raw every day. Avoid spicy food like anchovies, blue cheese, garlic, onion, pastrami, pepperoni, salami and tuna. Beer, coffee, whisky, and wine leave residue that stick to the soft, sticky plaque on teeth and get into the digestive system. Avoid foods that can get stuck between the teeth easily such as meat, stringy vegetables and sweets.
Go on a juice fast regularly with lemon juice and water to detoxify your internal system. Here is a sample program:
Juice Fasting
An excellent way to develop good health and toxin cleansing is by juice fasting. This is because juices, without their pulp (fiber), contain excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Vegetable juices are preferred over fruit as one is able to drink more vegetable juice than they are able to eat. For example, one can readily drink the juice of several heads of lettuce at one go but may not be able to consume the same amount of lettuce as a whole. Juices also contain good sources of antioxidants and enzymes needed for toxin cleansing and excretion. At the same time, they are easy to digest and thus can help to eradicate digestive problems. As a result, drinking juices allows the body to receive plenty of nutrients which minimal digestive action needed. Moreover, fasting on mono-juices allows the body to have sufficient time to process these juices and valuable digestive enzymes can be preserved. During fasting, a sense of well being, renewed energy, clearer thoughts and a cleaner body system can be resulted.
Vegetable Juicing Program
Fruit juices are very different from vegetable juices. Fruit juices should be avoided as the high sugar content of fruit juices raises the blood sugar and insulin levels. This can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes in the long run.
Although carrot and beet are vegetables, they are high in sugar content and can raise the blood sugar level much like fruits.
Vegetable juicing is not easy. Start slowly by drinking only one or two ounces and finally up to 12 ounces each time. There should be no waves of nausea or belching.
Vegetable juices are not as pleasant-tasting as fruit juices. The beginner should begin by gulping the juice as this is probably the best way to get started. This process will ensure that the juice is in minimal contact with the taste buds.
Take some vegetables before, during or after the juicing. The chewing motion will stimulate gastric juice secretion and aid digestion. It is also important to do some chewing during juicing.
As vegetable juicing is not a natural phenomenon in modern day society, the body will need some time to adapt. It is important to pay heed to your body?s signals on which are the vegetable juices to consume and which types to continue in small amounts.
The pulp is one of the best parts of the juice although its palatability leaves much to be desired. It adds bulk and fiber to your diet and helps bowel movements. Try mixing 10 percent of the pulp back into the juice and slowly increase the amount in accordance with your tolerance level. Very few people can consume all the pulp juice as it is quite thick and would look like a bowl of porridge instead of a glass of juice.
All vegetable juices should be consumed immediately. Vegetable juice is one of the most perishable foods. Do not keep for more than 24 hours. Storage is tricky. Oxidation should be prevented. If you have to keep the juice, put it in a glass jar with an airtight lid and fill it to the brim to minimize air space. The oxygen in the air (remember air contains 20 per cent oxygen) will “oxidize” and damage the juice. Wrap the jar with aluminum foil to block out all light, which will also damage the juice and then store it in the refrigerator. The juice should be taken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to consumption, as it should ideally be consumed at room temperature.
The beginner should start with celery, fennel (anise) and cucumbers. These vegetables may not be the most nutritious but at least they are more tolerable and palatable than others.
Once the beginner is used to the taste of vegetable juices, other recommended vegetables include spinach, cabbage, bok choy, endive and lettuce.
Herbs can also be added to juices such as parsley and cilantro.
The advanced juicer should try Collard Greens, Dandelion Greens and Mustard Greens as these vegetables are very beneficial. These greens are quite bitter tasting, although they are good for you.
To make your juice more palatable, you can also add small quantities of carrots and beets. These vegetables are relatively high in sugar content as compared to their green leafy counterparts. Coconut is another option to improve the taste of vegetable juices. They are also a good source of fat to balance the meal.
Beginner Juice Recipe
CARROT JUICE. High in antioxidant: beta-carotene and full of wonder enzymes. CELERY JUICE. High in sodium– not the artificial version but the natural kind that promotes tissue flexibility. BEET JUICE. Beets nourish the liver which one of the most important organs in the body as it is responsible for hundreds of different functions. If your liver is functioning well, your body is likely to be in optimal health. CABBAGE JUICE. Cabbage juice is high in vitamin C. Blend the above vegetables in a juicer and consume it immediately. Beet and carrot are higher in calorie content as compared to cabbage and celery. Do not consume carrot and beet juices if you have a history of sugar imbalance.
Simple 24 Hour Juice Fasting Detoxification Program
Juice fasting enables the digestive system to rest and also speeds up the growth of new cells, which in turn promotes healing. A person on a juice fast should abstain from solid foods and drink fruit and vegetable juices, water and herbal teas throughout the day. While vegetable juices are superior to fruit juices on a day-to-day basis, fruit juices are often recommended in part during a fasting program. Calorie from the sugar in the fruit juice is needed to avoid hypoglycemia. The fasting period depends from person to person although every half-hour to an hour is the norm. Frequent juicing will supply the body with adequate amounts of energy throughout the day. Drink at least four 8 to 12 glasses of water everyday during the fast. Avoid coffee, bottled, canned or frozen juice (primarily sugar) and soft drinks. Unsweetened herbal teas are acceptable.
The night before: consume a simple dinner with a green leafy salad. Dry brush your skin before you go to bed to open your pores for the night’s cleansing eliminations. On rising: one glass of two freshly squeezed lemon juice. One tablespoon of maple syrup and 8-oz of pure water at room temperature (filtered but not distilled). Midmorning: one glass of cranberry juice from concentrate to promote bowel movement. Lunch: one glass of fresh apple juice. Mid-afternoon: one cup of herbal tea. Dinner: One glass of papaya /pineapple juice to enhance enzyme production or another glass of apple juice. Before bed: one cup of mint tea, miso soup or hot water for relaxation. Next morning: break your fast with fresh fruits and yogurt. Consume light, raw foods during the day and a simple, low fat dinner. The same plan can be extended over the weekend for a three-day detoxification program.
Unfortunately, most commercial mouthwashes are nothing more than flavoring dye, and alcohol. While they may kill bacteria that cause bad breath, the bacteria often return in greater force and are seldom a long term solution.
Bad breath normally signifies underlying health problem, so a check-up with your physician is also recommended if the above does not improve the condition.


Question:
Can the use of large doses of ascorbic acid (2000 mg per day) irritate the GI tract? Would using ascorbic palmitate be a better choice?

Answer:
Large doses of ascorbic acid may or may not irritate the gastric mucosa. At 2000 mg, most people have no problem. If you have sensitive gastric mucosa, try mineral chelated forms such as magnesium ascorbate which is less irritating. Fat soluble ascorbyl palmitate is excellent, and you only need a little and not 2000 mg of it. The best is to blend ascorbic acid, mineral ascorbates, and ascorbyl palmitate together with citrus bioflavonoids for optimal benefit with some lysine and proline. This cocktail is excellent.
Read more about it here: Vitamin C Therapy in Cardiovascular Disease


Question:
I have been treated for the last 20 years with Hypothyroidism. Although I show the main symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, joint aches and pains there is one symptom that does not match and is very debilitating. I have never had constipation but diarrhea. As soon as I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed. I even tell my co-workers, if you see me walking fast don’t stop me. I have done this for 20 years. Why? I asked my physician about putting me on a thyroid supplement with T3 but none the less. I also alternate dosages everyday because my TSH will not level off. Any suggestions?

Answer:
Most people with hypothyroidism are constipated, but in your case, you have diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea is often a reflection of an underlying infectious process such as candida, giadia, parasites, food allergies, or other bowel dysfunction. I think more studies and workup is needed, especially stool sample for parasite mentioned above. Some chronic low-grade and sub-clincial infection are very hard to catch even with stool samples, and a good lab that can measure various forms of immunoglobulins is required. Talk you your doctor about further workup.


Question:
I was diagnosed with GERD so I stopped drinking coffee. Which tea can I drink that is not acidic? Also my tongue bothers me when I eat or drink the certain things. Can you help me correct that problem?

Answer:
GERD is a disease that is caused by gastric acid being in the wrong place. Certain foods can trigger symptoms in different people react differently to the trigger. Lying down after a meal, wearing tight-fitting clothing, and even performing certain activities, such as bending over, can also trigger symptoms in GERD patients. A good way for you to identify these “triggers” is to keep a diary of GERD symptoms noting when they occur. If symptoms follow a pattern and occur after certain foods or activities, these foods or activities should be avoided. A diary will also help you continue to enjoy those foods or activities that do not seem to provoke symptoms, so that your lifestyle is not restricted unnecessarily. You should review your symptoms with your doctor, who can evaluate your condition and advise an appropriate treatment plan.
The following guideline may help with also:

  1. Avoid drinking liquid during meal time, drink 1/2 hr before meal and 1 hr after meal.
  2. Do not lay down immediately after a meal.
  3. Eat small meals, 60-70% full is sufficient.

Foods that may cause an increase in acid production in the stomach should be avoided also. These include:

  1. Spicy Food
  2. Greasy Food
  3. Coffee, Tea
  4. LOTS of protein in one meal
  5. Milk or dairy products

Teas that are acceptable include Flower teas, herbal teas do not have the caffeine component in it, so it does not promote increase acid production in the stomach.
Eating certain foods or drinks that bothers your tongue may be a sign of allergic reaction to those foods. The best course of action is to avoid those foods.


Question:
A few hours after I eat, I have bloating and gas. How can I eliminate these unpleasant side effects of eating? I have tried “papaya enzyme” tablets which don’t seem to work, and I have tried “enzyme digestant” which works sometimes. Do you have any other suggestions? My diet is mainly vegetarian and I eat fish and chicken on occasion. I also eat some egg whites and tofu. Even when I eat meat, I have the same bloating and gas problem.

Answer:
Taking the right enzyme will help. Make sure that the enzymes you take contain protease, lipase, and amylase. Take ripe whole fruits like papaya may also help due to the high volume of digestive enzymes. Also try to eat smaller quantity at a time. Lastly, take enzymes between meals is best, and keep water intake during meals down to prevent dilution of the digestive enzymes. Try these first, and let me know how it works.
Sounds like your body has problem digesting protein. It comes with aging and slowing digestive system


Question:
My child will be turning one and will not be using formula anymore. Per my pediatrician, she needs to drink whole milk to get necessary fat. My question is this: Is it OK to give her non-homogenized organic whole milk, or should I stick to homogenized for some reason? I tried to find the answer to this with no luck.

Answer:
It is OK to give non-homogenized organic whole milk. Homogenization is a process that helps to stablilize the fat into the milk, so there is no separation. The fat is necessary for the development of the brain. Young children should not consume non-fat milk.