digestionMost people still don’t know the cause of many diseases and chronic illnesses: the gut. Modern science is now proving that Hippocrates was right: “All disease begins in the gut.” Here’s how to improve your digestion and make sure you stay healthy now and in the future.

Get a Gut Pathogen Screen

If you suspect that you have a health problem, go see your doctor. Ask for a gut pathogen screen. If your doctor is uncooperative, try going to a different doctor and get a referral to a gastroenterologist (a doctor specializing in gut health).

New research shows that gut microbes are closely linked to a proper immune function as well as many other health issues. So, if your doctor remains uncooperative, keep searching until you find a doc willing to run the right pathogen screens for you.

Doctors who are uncooperative are not going to be very helpful – they’re behind on their education and aren’t up on the latest research.

A gut pathogen screen is a stool test. You collect a sample, put it in a tube with preservation fluid (sometimes called “fixing fluid”), and then your doctor mails it to a lab to get the results. When they come in, the lab will analyze the stool sample for pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungus, mold, and yeast. It will generate a report for your doctor.

When those lab results finally come back to you, you’ll get to see what’s growing inside you. Some people find this a little off-putting. But, the benefit is that now you can get the proper treatment.

Any infection needs to be treated right away. And, in many cases, your chronic health problems will begin to resolve. Chronic pain might simply disappear, for example, Other problems you’ve been having may subside or disappear completely.

Eliminate Inflammatory Foods

It also helps to eliminate inflammatory foods, if you can help it. Omega 6 fatty acids are  major driver of inflammation, so reducing these in your diet will help tremendously. In fact, reduction of omega 6 fatty acids is thought to be the single-most important factor in reducing low-grade chronic inflammation.

Unfortunately, this also means cutting out a lot of junk food that you may find comforting or tasty, like corn-based products, wheat and most grain products, industrial seed oils like vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower and sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids from natural sources, like fatty cold water fish.

Take Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes help you break down food and make it more absorbable. Normally, gut bacteria do this for you. But if you don’t have a healthy population in your gut now, or if you’ve recently taken antibiotics, then you probably need some help. Here’s why: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/whole-food-poop-energize-enzymes/.

Take Probiotics

Most probiotics are weak and won’t survive the digestive tract. If you want to take a probiotic, make sure it has an enteric coating, and that it consists of a broad spectrum of bacteria. Also, look for minimum viable CFUs and a date stamped on the packaging. This eliminated virtually all grocery store brands.

You may have to shop specialty stores or go online.

Trusted brands like Prescript-Assist and Probiotic 3 contain numerous different probiotic blends. And, newer manufacturers are promising even more diverse formulations and higher bacteria counts.

For example Elixa brand probiotic offers individuals 500 billion CFUs of beneficial bacteria per dose, with typical treatments lasting 6 days (6 doses)

Metagenics also takes a targeted approach, by offering probiotics targeted to specific illnesses.

And, Custom Probiotics allows users to create their own homebrew probiotic concoction.

Take Prebiotics

Prebiotics are food for the beneficial bacteria you take. It can be resistant starch (starch that can only be digested by bacteria), insoluble fiber, or soluble fiber. Fortunately, prebiotic fiber and resistant starch is easy to find, doesn’t cost much, and can be obtained without a prescription. Most insoluble fiber, for example, is found in food. And, resistant starch can be found in cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, lentils, and beans.

All of these foods are very inexpensive and plentiful, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a natural food source.

Prebiotic fiber is the last step in  the process. Do not take it until or unless you’ve confirmed the presence of a gut infection and have cleared it

If you don’t do this, then you may unwittingly feed the bad (pathogenic) bacteria, causing even more problems.

Michelle Stevens is on the path to becoming a naturopath and alternative health practitioner. Whenever she comes across new discoveries on her journeys she enjoys writing about them online.