Your 5 burning health questions, answered by a Naturopathic Doctor!

Hi, I’m Dr. Filza Swalah a Naturopathic Doctor and I’m here to answer all your burning health questions!

Let’s go…

What can I do to stop my bloating?

Bloating can be a pretty uncomfortable feeling. It occurs when there is gas trapped inside the digestive tract. You can do a few things to stop bloating - here are my top 5 tips to reduce bloating:

  • Slow down when you are eating food. Often times, when we are rushing to eat our food, we are not only ingesting food, we are also ingesting air which can lead to excessive amounts in our digestive tract. So take your time and thoroughly enjoy your meal.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, chewing gum and drinking through straws as those are also habits that can increase air in the digestive tract
  • Food intolerances can cause bloating. One of the most common food intolerances is lactose – a sugar that is naturally found in dairy products. Most people do not have the digestive enzymes required to break down lactose and as a result, the digestive tract struggles and produces gas. Notice if you experience bloating after specific food groups like dairy. This can help identify if certain foods are triggers for you.
  • Gas is naturally produced by the digestive tract as it tries to break down food for absorption. By incorporating digestive aids, like Digestive Enzymes by Jamieson at every meal you can take the pressure off of your digestive tract.1
  • Take a Probiotic. Probiotics help provide the gut with essential bacteria it needs to function optimally. Jamieson Probiotic 10 billion for Daily Maintenance is formulated using unique probiotic strains to support digestive health.2

Does stress affect digestion?

Yes, absolutely. I notice it in my practice very often. The hormone that is released during times of stress is cortisol. This hormone helps us escape danger, or helps us meet work deadlines but it also stops the Vagus nerve - the nerve that's responsible for digestive function. That’s why, after long periods of stress, we notice digestive concerns like bloating, heartburn, indigestion and more. But it’s not just long term exposure to stress that can impact digestion. Even eating in a rush or eating while working can impact digestion, because our body really needs to be in a rested and relaxed state to focus on optimal digestion. That’s why I always recommend by patients to slow down while eating, to eat without distractions and to take 3 deep breathes before and after a meal.

Is there such thing as a gut-skin connection?

Yes! There is an intimate relationship between your gut and your skin - known as the gut-skin axis. A  recent study identified that the millions of bacteria that live in the gut not only impact gut function but can strongly influence skin health. In fact, the gut and it’s microorganisms can influence chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne3. Also, many studies have connected digestive issues with skin problems. In fact, another study compared constipated and non constipated individuals and their skin health and found that constipated individuals had a higher chance of atopic dermatitis – an inflammatory skin condition4.

Mushrooms, for immunity?

Mushrooms are all the rage right now. Yes, it can be hard to believe but these mushrooms aren't typically the ones we put on our pizza! Certain types of mushrooms, like Cordyceps, Reishi & Chaga, have a wealth of solid supportive scientific research behind them that has clearly shown they offer a variety of therapeutic benefits, primarily around bolstering the body’s stress response & strengthening immunity via immune modulation. Mushrooms are good for modulating the immune system because it is a source of Beta-Glucans5. An immunomodulator, like Beta-Glucan - is defined as the substance capable of interacting with the immune system resulting in up- or down-regulating specific parts of the immune response5. This means that it works with your body. 


What are 3 ways to reduce inflammation?

Inflammation is part of our bodies natural mechanism to fight off infections or injuries so our body can heal itself. There are two types of inflammation -  acute and chronic. Acute inflammation usually occurs due to cuts, wounds, sore throats and even upper respiratory tract infections. Chronic inflammation – like arthritis – occurs when our body perceives natural cells to be threatening. Either way, there are factors that perpetuate inflammation and make it stay longer than necessary.

Here 3 ways to reduce inflammation:

1) Manage stress by taking deep breaths, making time for your hobbies, or practising gratitude.

2) Enjoy antioxidant rich foods like berries, fish and turmeric

3) Get enough sleep! A refreshing 8-hour sleep can quell prolonged inflammation

References:

  1. Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on August 11th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence= 02242303
  2. Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on August 11th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80076638
  3. Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The gut microbiome as a major regulator of The GUT-SKIN AXIS. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459
  4. Huang, Y. C., Wu, M. C., Wang, Y. H., & Wei, J. C. (2020). Influence of CONSTIPATION on atopic DERMATITIS: A NATIONWIDE POPULATION-BASED cohort study in Taiwan. https://doi.org/10.22541/au.159301646.68438533
  5. Vetvicka V, Vannucci L, Sima P, Richter J, (2019) “Beta Glucan: Supplement or Drug? From Laboratory to Clinical Trials,” Molecules, 24(7), 1251; doi 10.3390/molecules24071251, PMID: 30935016, Mar 30, 2019.