Struggling with Digestive Problems?

May 17, 2020

74% of the U.S. population struggles with gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Listen in as two nutritionists share how to relieve these symptoms and what makes good gut health to begin with.

Podcast Powered by Podbean


Similar Podcast Episodes:


SHELBY: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Shelby Olson. I'm a licensed nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in clinical nutrition. I understand that education is really important when it comes to talking about human health and nutrition and, of course, I learned lots of things about nutrition and health while I was completing my master's degree. But to be honest with you, as a practicing nutritionist with Nutritional Weight & Wellness, I feel like I've learned even more. So much of that clinical experience, working with clients, helping people feel their best.

You know, they always talk about education's great, you learn lots of good things, but when you're out in the real world working with people, that's really where you've got to use those problem solving skills. You really have to understand what is going to make a big difference here for people. We don't want to talk about theories. We want to talk about action steps. So you know, Teresa and I are tasked this morning with talking about how those of you can change your digestive health. So our topic is all things related to digestion. If you have digestive problems, you certainly are not alone. According to a survey in The Journal of Gastroenterology, 74% of the U.S. population has some type of GI symptoms and GI, you know, gastrointestinal symptoms...that could be things like heartburn or acid reflux. That could be abdominal pain or nausea. And of course that could be bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. You know, Teresa, when I was in my first year of my master's program, one of my professors said to me, you know, if you're not comfortable asking people about their poop, you're in the wrong profession. 

TERESA: Isn't that true? 

A Common Digestion Problem In All Age Groups: Constipation

SHELBY: You know, digestive problems are a common reason people make an appointment with a nutritionist or a dietitian. You know, Teresa, I know you're busy in the office always, but I'm sure you have clients that are in their eighties or nineties. I'm sure you work with kids as well. You know, we see that people can have digestive problems regardless of their age. In fact, we were talking before we came in that there's a nutrition educator with Nutritional Weight & Wellness who is a physical therapist and specializes in helping kids with chronic and very severe constipation. And I was kind of surprised to learn that, you know, parents are flying in all over to get help with constipation, whether it's, you know, some, some nutrition help, some physical therapy help. As you might imagine, childhood constipation is not very enjoyable for parents. 

TERESA: No. You feel your kid's pain.

SHELBY: Exactly. When we think about constipation, oftentimes we're thinking about processed foods, excess sugar. We're really looking at what could be that foundation of creating that slow digestion or creating more of that painful experience. Another culprit that I think is often linked to constipation and children: cheese sticks. And we're going to talk a little bit more about foods that are more challenging for the digestive tract, but cheese is often constipating for both children and adults. Think about the foods that kids eat: mac and cheese, pizza, maybe snacking on crackers and cheese or those sorts of things. They can be really challenging for those little bellies to digest.

TERESA: Yeah and those are the foods that I think are very common that kids are eating right now just because they're easy to eat first of all. I mean, as far as just the mechanics of eating them. 

SHELBY: Right! 

TERESA: And then they're very convenient for parents to give their kids too.

Get personalized nutrition counseling for your family!

Schedule an Appointment

SHELBY: Right. So parents, if you're listening and you do have a child or you as an adult are struggling with constipation or other tummy troubles, our task today, Teresa and I are really hoping to address what helps with good gut health and what may happen if you don't have that right balance in the intestinal tract. Now, it may surprise some of you listening to learn that your gut is even connected to your brain. We talk about that gut brain connection. Now you heard her voice: joining me in studio this morning is our cohost Teresa Wagner. I would say first and foremost she's a mom. That's where she's spending a lot of time, but we also get her a few days a week in our offices and of course on the shows. Teresa, you're a registered and licensed dietitian. And how long have you been practicing?

TERESA: I think I've been at Nutritional Weight & Wellness for five years, I think. Maybe it's six. That's so funny I don't know. Five or six. 

SHELBY: They say time flies when you're having fun. So you must be having fun! Now at one time, you know, Teresa, you and I were talking a little bit more as nutritionists and dietitians, we experience some of these things too and I think you've kind of shared that you've had some digestive issues before, so hopefully you can kind of bring us into some of that discussion. 

TERESA: Yes. And maybe before we discuss that and before we discuss heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, IBS, I want to talk about how your immune function is connected to your gut health.

SHELBY: Ooo, so not just the brain but also the immune system. 

Gut Health Begins in Infancy

TERESA: Yes, everything's connected, isn't it? Approximately 70% of your immune system is found in your digestive system and because of COVID-19 many of us are trying to do everything possible in order to have good immune function. Have you thought about your gut health and how it affects your immune function? And I know Shelby you have, but for the listeners out there, have you made that connection? It's interesting to realize that throughout your life your immune system has been shaped by the communities of bacteria that reside in and on your body. How you were fed as a baby is a very important part of digestive health and it's even important for your current digestive function. So how you were fed as an infant affects your current health. 

SHELBY: Right. 

TERESA: Breast milk provided, for those of you who are breastfed, an abundance of beneficial bacteria. And if you weren't breastfed, you may have missed out on some of those most protective bacteria from your intestinal tract. And now as a mom, when I hear that I know of so many moms who tried breastfeeding and for whatever reason, it just didn't work out. So this isn't necessarily meant to be a guilt trip, or it's not at all meant to be a guilt trip. But, what it is, is just really good information for you to know for your children if they're having digestive issues or the prevention of digestive issues or chronic illnesses. And then it's also really good information for us as adults who maybe when we were being raised or when our parents were feeding us, that it wasn't, maybe breastfeeding wasn't in vogue at the time. Or our mothers weren't able to breastfeed at that time. Just it's good information to have. 

SHELBY: I agree. And I often tell people, you know, I know I wasn't breastfed as a baby and when I talked to some of my clients and asked them, it's, it's an interesting reaction. They, well, I had never thought of that. Does that really affect my immune system or that sort of stuff now? And I tell them, well, you know, we can't travel back in the past and we're not going to blame and shame mom for what she didn't know at the time. But that also gives, like for me personally, that gave me really good reason to focus on re-establishing that good bacteria because I know I wasn't exposed to that beneficial bacteria through breast milk.

TERESA: Yeah. Yep. Good information, right? So babies who are breastfed have a higher proportion of that beneficial bacteria that protects them against pathogens. Certain diseases are often linked to an unhealthy gut, which may not contain adequate levels of that beneficial bacteria. That bacteria that's crucial for good digestion, which we're talking about today.

Where Ulcers Come From

SHELBY: Exactly. And in fact, Teresa, when we're talking about bacteria, we're starting to see that bad bacteria has been connected as one of the primary causes of ulcers, specifically those peptic ulcers. So yes, they said bad bacteria causes ulcers, not stress and not spicy foods, you know, for a hundred years or more, doctors and researchers believed that ulcers were related to stress and spicy foods.

It wasn't until 2005 that Nobel prize winners in medicine, Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren made that connection between ulcers and a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Sometimes you guys have heard of that as H pylori. In the past, people who were suffering from ulcers, they were told that they had high levels of stomach acid and they needed to reduce their stress to reduce that pain and inflammation. But now that we know that ulcers are connected to H pylori, we can look at restoring that bacterial balance. Researchers proved that ulcers were not caused by stress, but instead by that bad bacteria. We understand in the past the standard treatment for ulcers was to rest and maybe drink some cream or some buttermilk, you know, so that sort of stuff may have felt good, but it didn't actually eliminate the bad bacteria, that H pylori from the gut.

And I know Teresa, we definitely want to talk a little bit more about, if people are struggling with ulcers, we've got some ideas for them, but we're going to take our first break. If you're just tuning in this morning, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Now this morning Teresa and I were looking at the root cause for many of those digestive issues that you may be dealing with. If you're struggling with acid reflux or heartburn. If you're struggling with gas or bloating, definitely stick with us this morning. One thing that you will want to consider is alcohol. Research from The National Institutes of Health reports that alcohol can cause inflammation in the gut and lead to future cancers, maybe liver disease, and even some neurological problems, so we'll be right back.

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This morning, Shelby and I are discussing some reasons for digestive issues. Is there something in your diet that is causing you to have diarrhea. Well, sugars stimulate the gut to put out water, which loosens bowel movements. If you ingest a lot of sugar, you may develop diarrhea. That's why for young children with constipation, prayer juice...PEAR juice, I don't know what prayer juice is, but pear juice…

SHELBY: Parents praying that their child will have a bowel movement! 

TERESA: There ya' go! Yeah. So pear juice or maybe a combination of a prune apple juice can work really well as a natural remedy for that constipation because it's high in sugar. 

SHELBY: Ah, okay. See, these are the things that you learn. I would have had no idea that parents were using juice as a way just to get lots of sugar to clean them out. But think about... I'm thinking to one client of mine that I've continued to see on a regular basis and she first came to me and she was wanting to lose weight, but I think one of the biggest things that I noticed is she was having diarrhea multiple times a day. And it's really hard to keep that metabolism going if none of your food is staying in your intestinal tract to be absorbed.

TERESA: Right. Yeah.

SHELBY: Yeah. So some good things that we're connecting here today. Before we went to break Teresa, I had shared that information that most, in fact, about 90% of peptic ulcers are related to a type of bacteria called H pylori. And in the past we thought, you know, the collective we... researchers and doctors thought that ulcers were because of stress or maybe spicy foods, that sort of thing. So I know you've got a little bit more information about H pylori.

TERESA: Yeah. So an interesting fact and a part of this too, what they found is that instead of it being the peptic ulcers being related to spicy foods and stress, they found that it was related to that bad bacteria or that bacteria H pylori. And what we have found, this interesting fact is that in developing countries about 80% of the population has the H pylori bacteria. But while many people have that H pylori bacteria, not everyone who has that bacteria gets an ulcer. So based on that information, we have to assume that H pylori bacteria does not stand alone. And there are other reasons people get ulcers. Normally the body has additional lines of defense to control the H pylori bacteria, but unfortunately not everyone has them. So what are those lines of defense? Researchers reported a rich and diverse microbiota protects your gut. In simpler terms, a good variety of beneficial bacteria is a protective line of defense from getting those ulcers. 

SHELBY: Right. And Teresa, I just want to kind of jump in here because one of the things with that bacteria, the H pylori, one of the things that it does is it actually weakens that protective mucosal coding that's over the stomach and the lining of the digestive tract. And that allows that stomach acid to irritate and inflame the lining, creating more of those symptoms. So really what I'm, what I'm piecing together and what I'm hearing you say is that H pylori can create inflammation and irritate that lining of the digestive tract. But you're saying that there are other things that can help protect that lining, that mucosal lining of the intestinal tract.

How the Diversity of Bacteria in Our Gut May Decline Over Time

TERESA: Yes. And really it's having that diverse microbiota. So how do you do that? How do you have a diverse and varied amount of beneficial bacteria? Well, if you were lucky enough to have been breastfed, that started your healthy gut diversity with a variety of beneficial bacteria. Now, currently, if you eat fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi, or perhaps you eat plain full fat yogurt, or maybe you're taking a probiotic supplement, you will likely have a healthy gut with lots of diversity and a variety of beneficial bacteria. Bifidobacteria makes up about 90% of the good bacteria in an infant. But as people age, that number is often reduced to only about 5%.

SHELBY: What? Why? Why is it only 5%? Is that another thing that we have to chalk up to getting older and aging? (laughter)

TERESA: Well, I think you know the answer to this, Shelby, but it just...the reason why we have less is just because of lifestyle, right?

SHELBY: Right. 

TERESA: And just life in general. A lot of times we're exposed to some sort of a bacteria requiring an antibiotic. So antibiotics are probably the number one thing that reduces the amount of bacteria we have in our gut. 

SHELBY: Right, that protective layer of bacteria. 

TERESA: Yep. Most medications have some sort of effect on our gut bacteria. Drinking alcohol does that. 

SHELBY: We had mentioned that. I know we're not making a lot of friends here, Teresa, telling people no alcohol, no sugar. But really, as you think about, we have lots of lifestyle habits that go against our good gut bacteria, right? So we need to be thinking about, and really this is what I'm encouraging my clients to think about, is how can we continue to have this beneficial bacteria coming in? If you're eating fermented foods, that's great, but we also have to remove the things that are going against the bacteria. 

TERESA: Right.

SHELBY: And I honestly, I think one of the biggest things behind sugar that I found depletes that beneficial bacteria, I think it's the vegetable oils. I think it's the refined fats and those factory fats that really just kind of, take their toll on the lining of the digestive tract and really create this imbalance in our body.

TERESA: Yeah. Yup. 

SHELBY: And of course we could talk about things like food sensitivities and you had kind of mentioned medications, but I think that there are issues that we're hearing about in our water supply. Fluorine and chlorine and water, that sort of thing. You know, we don't have time to talk about all of those things.

TERESA: If you think about it, the chlorine in the water is there to kill the bacteria so that the water is safe to drink. If it kills bacteria in your water, well, it's going to kill bacteria in your gut. Even diets low in fiber, you know, there's all kinds of reasons that the amount of good bacteria in our gut decreases. So you might be wondering, well, why is bifidobacteria so important for good gut microbiome health? The probiotic bifidobacteria not only protects that mucosal lining, but it also helps to break down the dietary fiber so that you are able to access the nutrients from the food. So let's talk a little bit about fiber. 

SHELBY: Yeah, yeah. The bacteria is actually tasked with breaking down the fiber to help us make nutrients. I don't think a lot of people have that awareness. And in fact, you know, it still continues to amaze me that the bacteria in our intestinal tract is tasked with making vitamins and nutrients for us. But we're going to have to talk about that when we get back from break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're concerned about getting prediabetes or diabetes, be sure to tune in next week to hear Britni and JoAnn as they discuss how to eat sugar to reduce high blood sugar numbers. We'll be right back. 

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you struggle with bloating and gas, we want to share another possible reason. Several studies have surfaced showing that taking oral birth control pills negatively affect gut bacteria. Research has also found that the pill can significantly increase your chance of developing inflammatory bowel disease or IBS. Actually two studies link the use of oral contraceptives to Crohn's disease. So is it possible that your ongoing digestive problems are linked to your birth control pills? 

Sources of Good Fiber for Gut Health

SHELBY: Right. And Teresa, we were talking a little bit more about the things that can go against our good gut bacteria. You know, talking about that bacteria as being that protective piece in terms of helping protect against bacteria against viruses. But also, you know, talking about how bacteria is really important for making our vitamins and using our food to help us absorb nutrients and that sort of stuff. Before we went to break, we were talking just a little bit more about fiber and so I'm not going to ask you guys to take fiber supplements or you know, chew on anything that is gross, but I do want to encourage you to think about fiber in a different way.

I mean I just have these visions of fiber is like people eating wood chips or something. It just doesn't, we think about fiber and it doesn't seem appealing. And so I think a lot of us as adults, we just kind of push that out of our brain. But the fiber recommendation for adults is about 25 to 30 grams and I just really want to remind people that as nutritionists and dietitians, we're looking at real food as the source for your fiber. I don't think you need to spend a lot of money on fiber supplements or that sort of thing. In researching for this show, I was just trying to figure out what's an easy way to gauge if you're getting enough fiber?

As we're looking at vegetables, vegetables are a much better source of fiber in our diet than whole grains ever will be. And I just want to give you one simple comparison. One slice of whole wheat bread gives you about two grams of fiber. That's a drop in the bucket when you're looking at 25 or 30 grams throughout the day. If you have a half of a cup of raspberries that gives you four grams of fiber, you're getting there, you're getting closer. As we look at avocados, one avocado gives you 10 grams of fiber. The avocados are gonna fly off the shelves this next week because people are looking for that good fiber. Chia seeds, those are also, two tablespoons of chia seeds gives you about 10 grams of fiber. Now, Teresa, before we came into the studio, I was snacking on some of my vegetables for breakfast and I had some jicama and I don't know if all of you listening have tried jicama before, but jicama is considered... they call it a Mexican turnip. It's kind of this round, you know, it's not a very appealing looking fruit. 

TERESA: Kind of tan in color. 

SHELBY: Yeah, kind of tan in color. But when you, when you actually find it sliced or once you actually get a jicama pealed and chopped up, it really has the texture of like a cross between a potato and an apple. It's got that nice crunch, a little bit of sweetness, but it definitely has that fiber and one cup of jicama gives you about six grams of fiber. So I'm thinking jicama dipped in guacamole. That sounds like a great way to increase that fiber. Get that fiber up in your day. 

TERESA: A great way and in a really yummy way to get that fiber in. 

SHELBY: Delicious way! 

TERESA: You know, versus snacking on wood chips like we envision.

SHELBY: Right and you know, as you're thinking about the vegetables, we encourage people five to nine cups of vegetables a day. I mean, if we're talking about, just on average, one cup of vegetables giving you three grams of fiber, now you start counting by threes: 15 grams of fiber, 18 grams of fiber. You can kind of look at those vegetables as the best way to help your digestion and make sure you're getting that fiber for all other aspects of your health as well.

TERESA: That's right. And as we're talking about for our topic today, and what we left off with is really talking about that good bacteria that uses fiber for food. So you might have digestive problems such as gas cramps, diarrhea, or even low grade chronic inflammation of the gut lining if you don't have enough of that bifidobacteria. An unhealthy gut microbiome can be linked to Crohn's disease, type two diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Poor gut health is also linked to depression, Parkinson's, allergies, and many autoimmune diseases.

Supplements and Probiotics That Support Better Digestion

SHELBY: So listeners, you may be thinking, well, if I'm eating vegetables and that actually increases my bloating or gas or constipation or diarrhea, you may be missing that good bacteria piece, right? Because the bacteria helps to break down the fiber. So we can use that. The fiber's good, but we also need the bacteria. So remember, bifidobacteria makes up the largest portion of the beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract. So bifidobacteria, that's kind of like the therapeutic type of bacteria. And oftentimes when people are struggling with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, as a nutritionist, I'm encouraging them to find a type of a probiotic that just has bifidobacteria in it. Because we want to be able to kind of re-... we want to reestablish that beneficial bacteria. And we also want to make sure that we have got sufficient bifidobacteria to make our vitamins and some of our brain chemicals. Bifidobacteria helps to make several B vitamins. It also helps to make vitamin K, but bifidobacteria can also be that protective bacteria, so we don't have the infections or the symptoms related to exposure to bad bacteria. Bifidobacteria is very, very important for our health. It prevents against inflammation and prevents... really protects us from other diseases. One study shows that having sufficient bifidobacteria reduces our risk of having colon cancer by 50%. 50 percent! 


SHELBY: We look at the infections in the intestines. We look at Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, lots of things are related to an imbalance in the intestinal tract. 

TERESA: In our nutrition classes, we often explain how bifidobacteria helps us to make all of our B vitamins. For example, B5. Pantothenic acid. This B vitamin, not often talked about. When's the last time you had a discussion on B5? 

SHELBY: No. haha! 

TERESA: This vitamin helps to convert nutrients into energy and supports hormone production. 

SHELBY: Right. And actually I want to, you know, as I was thinking about B5, I know that it's such an important vitamin for our skin. In fact, some clinics are using B5 as a way to help with wound healing and reduce that inflammation. As someone who grew up with acne and, of course, you don't want inflammation of the skin, that's what acne is. I'm like, gosh, where was B5 when I was a teenager? So I know you long time listeners have made that connection between the intestinal tract and both your health, but also your brain health. But I really want to make sure that Teresa and I drive that point home. As we think about real food nutrition, one of the ideas that we often talk about here on Dishing Up Nutrition is eating sufficient protein. So how does eating a sufficient amount of protein help with our energy, with our intestinal health, and our good moods? Well, one thing, protein is one of the easiest foods for us to digest. We're talking meat, fish, eggs, even some good quality protein powders. Those are very easy for us to digest. But these types of proteins are broken down into building blocks. We call them amino acids. Those amino acids are broken down in the small intestinal tract with the help of our bifidobacteria. And it's these amino acids from protein, from animal protein, that makes our brain chemicals, or our neuro-transmitters. Now we have over 200 different types of neuro-transmitters. You've probably heard of the two most well known dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine helps with focus and good energy and serotonin helps us feel calm, happy, supports our sleep. So it's kind of interesting to see that there really is the strong connection between our gut, our intestinal tract, and how our brain works. Not only that, but protein is what helps to heal the lining of the digestive tract. Right? So if you've got inflammation or irritation, regardless if it's heartburn or an ulcer, we need that animal protein to repair that lining of the digestive tract. 

TERESA: Yep. Just like you said, it's the building blocks of the materials that those organs are made out of. So what happens when you eat breakfast that consists of two cups of cereal, skim milk, and is topped with a banana. When we eat a breakfast with such a small amount of protein, we're not supplying the body with those building blocks needed for adequate brain chemical production. 

SHELBY: Right, right. And Teresa, I definitely want to talk a little bit more about breakfast, but we've got to go to our next break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're listening to our show today and you're starting to realize that you may have some digestive problems or maybe some other health concerns related to your gut health, I just want to remind you that we're gonna talk about kind of some surface level ideas. But I would definitely encourage you to think about how a nutritionist or dietitian from Nutritional Weight & Wellness could help you. We are able to offer nutrition counseling over the phone or through videos to help people understand what they need to do to keep their immune function strong and healthy. Now we want to take this time to really take care of ourselves and I know that making an appointment could be one of the ways that you could focus on your health. Now, on the other side of break, Teresa's going to share a great deal with you that we have. We'll be right back.

Keep your immune system strong and healthy with personalized nutrition counseling!

Nutrition Counseling

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Your digestion and intestinal health affect your metabolism, your aches and pains, your long term memory, and could also be the reason why you have gas, diarrhea, constipation or bloating. Your gut health affects your mental health and your physical, including your immune function. If you are at home cooking real food and you have concerns about intestinal or digestive health or any other issues, I encourage you to make an appointment with a nutritionist or a dietitian. If you are at home making canned foods like Chef Boyardee or box foods, like macaroni and cheese or frozen pizzas, I also encourage you to take the next step and make an appointment with one of our nutrition experts so you can learn how to cook the Weight & Wellness way. We will teach you how to change your eating and improve your health and wellbeing, which will change your life. Right now, you can save $75 on an initial two hour appointment. So call (651) 699-3438 today to schedule your appointment for next week or you can schedule it online by going to our website

Eating a Better Breakfast For Your Gut

SHELBY: Teresa, before we went to break, I had to kind of cut you off on talking about breakfast, but one of the action steps that we had recommended earlier, talked more specifically about, was eating sufficient animal protein. And one of the things that you would kind of mentioned with the Standard American Diet, a cereal breakfast... having cereal and milk have some banana on there, not any animal protein! 

TERESA: Right. Well, I mean a little bit in the milk, right? We'll give you, we'll give you a little bit in the milk. 

SHELBY: We're being very generous this morning.

TERESA: But this cold cereal breakfast contains at least 90 grams of carbs, which breaks down into about 20 teaspoons of sugar.


TERESA: An interesting study from researchers at Australian National University found that people whose blood sugar is in the high end of normal, which is not even as high as the prediabetes range, have a much greater risk for brain shrinkage. Brain shrinkage. When people eat a high sugar breakfast such as cereal, skim milk and banana, like we were talking about, their blood sugar or their blood glucose level goes up beyond normal and that brain shrinkage can occur.

SHELBY: We don't want that! 

TERESA: No! Those people may also encounter digestive problems because of the excess amount of sugar they've ingested, especially because it's ingested in such a short period of time.

SHELBY: Right. Right. Now, when we think about our health, we definitely don't want brain shrinkage, but today we're talking about digestive problems. So we understand that there can be some other things that are challenging to digest besides sugar and some of those processed carbohydrates.

At least 60% of the general population in the United States has trouble digesting dairy products. Now, as a listener, you may be someone who is lactose intolerant, but I would venture to say that you at least know someone who's lactose intolerant. You can have issues digesting lactose, but you can also have a dairy sensitivity to other components of the dairy. Now oftentimes if you're dairy sensitive or lactose-intolerant and you drink a glass of milk or eat ice cream, you get really severe stomach pain, maybe some bloating or some gas or some diarrhea, you know, but there are some other connections to dairy. Besides lactose, what other dairy issues do you see when you're working with clients,Teresa?

TERESA: Well, yes, there's another type of dairy sensitivity, which is more of an allergic reaction or maybe a sensitivity to rather than the sugar, the lactose, to the protein, casein. A protein that is found in dairy products. Some of the symptoms of a casein sensitivity might be swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue or throat. You can get hives, you have skin rashes, possibly acne. You can have nasal congestion, itchy eyes. You can get that kind of that catch in your throat where you're always kind of feeling like you have to clear your throat. And also joint pain. A sensitivity to casein creates an inflammatory response in the body. So if I see a client with these signs or symptoms, I often recommend removing dairy products from their food plan so we can see if that's the cause of those symptoms.

SHELBY: Right. And you don't just tell them, well don't eat cheese, don't drink milk. You give them alternatives. And that's really where a nutritionist or dietitian can help kind of guide that way. Now, Teresa, I was just talking to a client of mine Tuesday or Wednesday, the days are hard to…

TERESA: Running together! 

SHELBY: Right, but one of the things that I was so excited about is she gave up dairy for four weeks and she added in that bifidobacteria and she said within three days her sinus inflammation and this kind of mucus in her throat was gone. It wasn't an issue anymore. She was having eyes that were watering and she went to her eye doctor and he was like, well, it's because you have inflamed sinuses. She gave up the dairy - that inflammation in her sinuses was gone and a bonus in a month she lost nine pounds.


SHELBY: So who knows what she was more excited about. But if you're struggling with a slow metabolism, that may be a connection. Maybe you need to, or maybe you would be willing rather to give up cheese or milk or yogurt for four to six weeks and see if you're experiencing less inflammation in your body. Not eating dairy can be a simple solution to reducing inflammation and supporting your overall health.

TERESA: Yes. Okay, so now we're going to move on to how gluten can affect your gut health. 

SHELBY: Another potential food sensitivity.

Digestion and Gluten Sensitivity

TERESA: Correct. It may surprise you that dietitians and nutritionists have some of the same health problems as you do! After having some digestive issues myself, I was pleasantly surprised when I gave up gluten and my symptoms stopped. Numerous research studies have connected digestive disorders with having a gluten sensitivity. If you still can't believe that one piece of toast or that pastry from the corner bakery is giving you heartburn, a bloated stomach, or any other digestive symptoms, then I recommend you picking up the book *Gluten Freedom* by Dr Alessio Fasano. Dr Fasano is the founder and director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General. When I read about celiac disease, I thought, well, I don't have celiac disease, so gluten must not be my problem. Right. That's what, that's what we all say.


TERESA: Although after reading Dr. Fasano's research and his book, I came to this realization: I don't have celiac disease, but I do have a gluten sensitivity, which is causing my digestive problems.

SHELBY: Whomp whomp whomp. 

TERESA: Yeah. Such a bummer! However, part of me was still not sure. Maybe it was because I didn't want to give up bread or crackers or some of it's just I didn't want to deal with the eating style that I thought was going to be really inconvenient. In Dr. Fasano's book, he explained that gluten sensitivity affects six to seven times more people than celiac disease.

SHELBY: Wow. And I want to just point out that Dr. Fasano is an Italian researcher. 

TERESA: Pasta pasta. 

SHELBY: You can be Italian and still not eat pasta.

TERESA: Yes, it's allowed. I think. As a dietitian, I know the true test of a food sensitivity is to stop eating that food for you know about six weeks. And then measure how frequently you have those symptoms. I'm pleased to say that I don't have really any symptoms anymore. No more gas, no more bloating. I know that for some people it's no more heartburn. And it might not seem like those are severe, but when you are, when you're bloated, where you feel like you don't even fit in your own body, it's a problem. It's not so much that you don't fit in your clothes is that you don't feel like you fit inside yourself and it's so uncomfortable. So that was such a relief to get rid of that feeling. But like I said, for some people it's heartburn.

SHELBY: Right. Yeah. One of the things that often shows up is that inflammation related to food sensitivities is heartburn or acid reflux. So as we're kind of wrapping up our show here today, I just want to give you a few action items, some of our top recommendations for helping to reduce those tummy troubles. So the first would be identify those food sensitivities, whether it's gluten like Teresa mentioned or maybe you have a dairy sensitivity. Or maybe we need to look at the sugar, the alcohol, those refined vegetable oils. Maybe there are other lifestyle habits that are increasing inflammation, whether it's over the counter or prescription medications. We mentioned birth control. We mentioned antibiotics. Definitely increasing that good bacteria and fiber and eating sufficient protein for your body. Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

Are you tired of dealing with digestive discomfort? Get relief today with personalized nutrition counseling!

Nutrition Counseling

Read More:

Back To Top