Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for: October, 2021
By Advanced Gastroenterology Group
October 27, 2021
Category: GI Care
Although gluten-free is a great diet trend that some are now following, for others following a gluten-free diet is essential for their health. This is due to the fact that celiac disease can negatively affect the body when gluten is ingested. For those with celiac disease, a celiac-friendly diet can mean the difference between pain and discomfort and increased quality of life.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can seriously damage someone's internal organs. Celiac disease occurs when someone's immune system is triggered by the ingestion of gluten, leading to an immune response in the small intestine. In this sense, celiac disease behaves much like an allergy to gluten, although with some serious damaging side effects.
Over time, the continuous response to gluten leads to damage in the small intestine lining. This can then prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients, also known as malabsorption.
Signs and Symptoms
Some people with celiac disease won't know until they've already experienced damage to their small intestine.
Celiac disease can have symptoms including:
Celiac Treatment and Diet
The treatment for celiac disease is a major change in diet and lifestyle. A celiac-friendly diet consists of eating gluten-free foods to prevent the autoimmune trigger of celiac disease. These include eating everyday foods like:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Fish and seafood
- Beans and legumes
Although it doesn't seem like it, many grains are naturally gluten-free and can be readily enjoyed by people with celiac disease. These include:
- Flax seeds
Beverages are also mostly gluten-free, including sodas and juices. Wine is also considered gluten-free, especially wine that has been fermented in barrels lined with wheat paste. Beer lovers can also enjoy several gluten-free beer brands.
Whatever foods someone chooses to ingest, it's important to first research whether it is gluten-free, or less than 20 parts per million of gluten according to the FDA standard.
People with Celiac disease should avoid foods that include:
- Rye or wheat
- Gram flour
A quick internet search can lead to online recipes that can help you or a loved one follow a celiac-friendly diet. Some great resources are the Celiac Disease Foundation and the National Celiac Association.
The bottom line is this: if it has gluten or if you're unsure whether a portion of food has gluten, avoid it! Luckily, there are many brands of foods that are gluten-free, and everyday foods can be delicious and still be part of a celiac-friendly diet.
By Advanced Gastroenterology Group
October 15, 2021
Category: GI Care
Many of us experience constipation or difficulty moving our bowels at some point in life. Constipation may be very uncomfortable, which warrants seeking some relief through medication. However, you may be faced with deciding whether to use a stool softener or a laxative. Before you decide on what you think is the best alternative, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Understanding the Purpose of a Stool Softener vs. all Laxatives
A laxative defines any medicine that facilitates a bowel movement which includes a broad range designed to treat varying levels of severity. A stool softener is a mild (OTC) over-the-counter laxative used to soften the stool for easier passage and less strain. Its use is recommended for temporary, less chronic constipation. Stool softeners work naturally with the body and are better tolerated with fewer side effects. Stronger laxatives such as stimulant laxatives are more appropriate for more severe symptoms. Unlike stool softeners which merely add moisture to the stool to allow for easier movement, stimulant laxatives treat more acute and chronic constipation by directly stimulating nerves in the large intestine. They work faster to bring relief yet can cause side effects such as dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping.
Identify Your Symptoms First
It’s important to understand the symptoms and severity of your constipation before choosing a particular laxative. If you are suffering from symptoms such as abdominal bloating, rectal pain, and a frequency of fewer than three bowel movements per week, you may be a candidate for a stronger laxative. However, if you are experiencing temporary difficulty passing stool due to recent surgery, hemorrhoids, or other sensitivities, you may be better suited to taking stool softeners.
Your Diet and Doctor’s Advice
Before choosing a laxative, it is always important to practice some common measures before resorting to laxatives.
- Stay hydrated during the day
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other fiber to promote a healthy colon.
- If an improvement in your diet is not relieving your symptoms, consult your physician.
- If you have been recommended to use a laxative, always follow the doctor’s instructions, or for over-the-counter medications, carefully read dosing directions.
- Whether taking stronger laxatives or milder ones such as stool softeners, either should not be taken long term unless approved by your physician.
Now that you are better acquainted with stool softeners vs. laxatives, you will understand that all laxatives are not created equal, thus you can make an informed choice. The best medicine, of course, is eating a healthy diet, but if you must choose a laxative, consider your symptoms, research products, and consult with a medical professional.