The latest in digestive health news

Image result for digestive health graphicSo much is happening in the world of digestive health. Clinical trials and research are revealing new trends and treatments all the time; fundraisers are happening across the country; more people are learning about the risks and working to prevent colon cancer.

Here are a few interesting things happening in the digestive health world this week.

Michigan Fundraiser – Golf Fore Guts Silent Auction

If golfing isn’t your thing, you can still support this Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation initiative through their silent auction. You’ll find all sorts of signed sports memorabilia and even an in-home wine tasting for 12 of your favorite people.

“The 5th Annual Golf Fore Guts silent auction is open! Bidding will close at 5pm on Sunday, August 13th. You do not have to be present to win. Click the link below to see the list of silent auction items like a Miguel Cabrera signed baseball and TaylorMade golf drivers. To register click the Sign In button on the website or text fore17 to 24700. Happy Bidding!”

Dating with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford shares with The Mighty her and many others’ struggle to date with various forms of IBD – something that folks with healthy guts might not even think of. As if dating isn’t difficult enough, having the added pressure of numerous bathroom trips, frequent fatigue, or wearing an ostomy can create some obstacles that make dating seem unworthy.

“It is small things like this that could affect even the early on stages of dating that I like to get off my chest sooner rather than later. That way, it will soon become clear apparent whether there is any compatibility. These may be small things, but they occur regularly and could present a problem in terms of the outlook for the relationship.”

Read the rest of her heartfelt, honest, and eye-opening blog on The Mighty.

Colon Cancer Rates Rising in Younger White Folks

In the United States, the black population has faced historically higher rates of colon cancer than any other ethnic group. However, the recent rates of colon cancer have increased in the white population – especially in those under 50. This presents a problem since most doctors agree that screening for colon cancer and other digestive issues isn’t necessary until the age of 50 for most. Those with a family history of the disease are encouraged to get screened earlier, but if you’re not aware of your history, you’re at a higher risk.

” The number of whites being diagnosed with colorectal cancer and their mortality rates are rising, even as blacks are seeing a decline in both categories,” says Kaiser Health News. “Despite those declines, however, blacks still have higher rates of death from the disease.”

So while the community is rallying to make sure people are taking as many preventive measures as possible, it might be time to look at the age in which we’re doing so.

The best way to protect yourself is to learn your family history, get to the doctor, and to be open to as many preventive methods as possible.

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Heartburn and age: It really does get worse

Image result for heartburnGetting older has its perks, like learning life’s lessons, knowing what you want (and how to get it), and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That is, unless you suffer from heartburn.

Studies have shown the irritating truth that this esophageal irritation gets more intense as you age.

“First, the sphincter on top of your stomach, which opens to allow things you swallow to go into your stomach, tends to relax a bit more with time,” says Self.

That’s a medical way to say that even your internal muscles can’t fight Father Time. When that flap doesn’t open or close as quickly, stomach acid can creep back up and cause your esophagus to burn.

Another cause for more heartburn as you age is that your stomach doesn’t digest your food as quickly. And when your food sticks around longer, there are more chances for problems. Couple that with a slight weight gain that a lot of folks experience later in life, and your stomach acid has the perfect storm for irritating your esophagus.

Most folks experience heartburn from all the usual culprits: Fatty foods, sugar, peppermint, booze (basically anything fun). If that’s the case for you, limiting your intake along with using an over-the-counter heartburn med should probably take care of the problem.

However, if you have more severe problem that happens more frequently or doesn’t have a food trigger, you should definitely let your doctor know. With frequent heartburn comes a higher risk for esophageal cancer because of the acid wearing away at your throat. A stronger medication or more stringent course of action might be necessary, but your doctor can help you figure out what you should do.

“Heartburn is one of many possible symptoms of GERD. GERD means reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus,” says our very own Dr. Anezi Bakken.

She walked us through the symptoms and risks associated with heart burn the last time we sat down with her. She also told us how there comes a point when your heartburn could be something more serious. GERD typically shows more severe symptoms, such as nausea, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and even a cough. “Just” heartburn can turn into a more severe condition.

What else can you do?

Stop smoking, lose weight and drink lots of water – pretty much the standard prescription for getting any condition under control.

You can also use some food-tracking apps to monitor which foods are the worst for your gut. And gum and baking soda are a couple of home remedies that work for some people.

Talk to your doctor regarding any stomach discomfort to keep things in check and to avoid a more serious condition from developing.

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Can one diet change ease Crohn’s?

Image result for plant based good fatsCrohn’s is a disease that hundreds of thousands suffer from in silence. An autoimmune disorder, the symptoms are different from person to person and just as difficult to treat.

Food is another challenge to folks fighting Crohn’s, with flare ups stemming from all types of sources. But a new study is linking an uptick in consumption of plant-based fats with a decrease in bad bacteria and inflammation in the digestive tract of mice.

“The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn’s patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet,” said Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD to EurekAlert.

The research seems rather promising, given that patients with Crohn’s could begin to see the benefits simply by swapping coconut oil for butter or using cocoa butter as a substitute.

Another positive aspect is the insight this offers medical researchers into what makes good fats, well, good.

“Ongoing studies are now helping us to understand which component of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats make the difference,” Rodriguez-Palacios said. “Ultimately, we aim to identify the ‘good’ fat-loving microbes for testing as probiotics.”

In other words, this cross-referencing of research could start to pinpoint the magic potion for sufferers of Crohn’s. Since each person and their lower tract is unique, however, it’s not likely there will be a one-size-fits-all solution that comes out of this line of study. But getting closer to understanding what makes these good fats reduce inflammation and symptoms in any way is a positive step for patients.

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Our HOT LIST of good foods for digestion

Image result for leafy greensEating right for your digestive health doesn’t have to be a crazy health-food-store-expensive-ingredient journey. You probably have a lot of the foods that can help digestion and are also good for folks struggling with different forms of IBD.

Here’s our HOT LIST of foods that are great for your gut and not super fussy.

Good Fats

Avocado

This creamy goodness comes equipped with soluble fiber, which is much easier on your digestive tract than the insoluble stuff. And, once they’re ripe, they’re easy to prepare. Simply cut in have, twist out the core, and scoop into your dish.

Add some salt, garlic powder and black pepper, then mash together for a quick guacamole spread for sandwiches. Or scoop it into your blender, and add some lemon juice or vinegar, your favorite seasonings and herbs, and some Greek yogurt for a creamy green goddess dressing.

Smooth Nut Butters

The crunchy stuff can irritate your bowels if you struggle with Crohn’s, diverticulitis or other similar issues. The smooth stuff offers just the same amount of good fats, protein and fiber, but allows your body to do less work.

Add almond butter to a smoothie with blueberries, spinach and almond milk. Or dip carrots into peanut butter for a crunchy afternoon snack. Cashew butter works as a butter substitute if you’re in the mood for some baked good.

Salmon

This healthy-fat fish is a fan favorite. The oils are great for everything from your lower tract to your skin. Add some salt, brown sugar and pineapple and roast in tinfoil for a sweet and salty dinner. If fish isn’t your forte, order the salmon next time you’re out to eat, and let someone else do the cookin’.

Soft Leafy Greens

Spinach

Popeye’s favorite green is such for a reason. It’s loaded with vitamins, and the leaves aren’t as tough on your gut as kale or the tougher greens are. Spinach is a great vehicle for flavor. Saute a bag in a bit of olive oil with salt and fresh garlic for a super simple side dish. Add it to your smoothie since the flavor and texture will blend right in. Or add a handful to your next salad.

Arugula

Arugula is a really flavorful green that’s got a peppery bite that’s a wonderful addition to most dishes. Throw a handful into a pita pocket with some tuna fish, onion and Greek yogurt for an easy lunch. Or stir this into some warm rice and add olives, diced bell peppers and crumbled feta.

Watercress 

This super food has been named the most nutritious of all the greens. It’s a delicate and soft leaf that won’t irritate your stomach, and mixes in with any salad recipe you can think of. Same goes for smoothies – add some watercress with strawberries, peanut butter and coconut milk for a yummy breakfast or afternoon snack. And watercress goes well with your favorite veggies, diced and dressed the way you like. Add some salmon for a well-balanced meal.

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Take Steps for Crohn’s, Colitis and IBD: This Saturday in Royal Oak

Around 1.6 million Americans suffer from some type of IBD, including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. The worst part about these numbers is that there is no cure, just treatment plans that aren’t guaranteed. And of all those plans, every person fighting a form of IBD reacts differently.

So what can we do?

First thing’s first: Take Steps! The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America hosts walks all across the country to raise awareness and funds for all forms of IBD. This Saturday, June 10, 2017, you can participate in our very own walk in Royal Oak.

Join the Center for Digestive Health as we sponsor a Take Steps walk for the cure in Meininger Park. Along with the walk is a festival full of activities and sponsors with additional information. Check in and the festival begin at 9am, the walk itself starts at 10:30am. All age levels are welcome.

What will the walk support?

Groundbreaking research, empowered patients, and wise investments, all with the goal of furthering research and getting closer to a cure.

“Our research is unprecedented and has significant potential to directly transform IBD patients’ well-being. We are incredibly proud of the work our researchers do each and every day,” says the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “Our national and local programs and services are designed to provide patients of all ages and their loved ones with helpful information to better manage their disease while providing a supportive forum to share experiences and concerns, and connect with others.”

The fundraising is as easy as it comes. Register for the walk, and convince a few close friends to give as little as $16 each. You can also organize a team for the event, to up the awareness and the cash flow to the organization. Bring your kids, friends and pets to enjoy the day’s festivities.

For more information, visit the CCFA’s FAQ page regarding the race, learn more about what Crohn’s and Colitis are, and have a look at specifically where the money goes, so you can rest assured that your efforts are in the right place.

We hope to see you there!

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Inspiring stories from survivors of Crohn’s

Living with a bowel disorder is not a task for the weak. Folks who are surviving and thriving are a constant source of inspiration to us. As part of a regular series, we try to highlight those fighters out there to both celebrate their successes and raise awareness around their struggles.

Here are a few of our favorite stories.

18671186_1452587181467460_525827228929541125_n“This is my 15 year old niece, Audrey. She was just diagnosed with Crohn’s a week ago after being at Children’s Hospital in Nashville for 12 days. She had lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks and had to get two blood transfusions. I am her legal guardian for 6 years now and it broke my heart to have her sent home with a feeding tube and a pic in her arm for antibiotics. She is getting better now with all that gone but is on Prednisone, Pantesa and omeprazole, iron and has back pain and fewer flare ups. She is still weak and had a way to go which is very depressing for her. She had to miss summer, band camp and being with her friends. She has changed the way she eats and knows what irritates her stomach. No more fast food, dairy, some bread and fried foods. It has been a rough road. She has a check up in August and they may put her on Humira. I pray it will help her. My heart goes out to everyone who suffers through this daily and is parents who have to see our children go through pain. Prayer is powerful and I believe my Audrey is healing due to prayers.”

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“I have severe Crohn’s disease that I have been battling for 20 years, this is my Crohn’s tattoo”

 

 

 

stephanie-hughes-hospital-e1432075627501“Today is World IBD Day and I am reminded of a lot of parallels from two years ago. In 2015, I was pregnant for the first time and on May 19 I was admitted to the hospital for the first of four admissions before I was induced four weeks early due to an intestinal blockage. I am so thankful that I am not spending another World IBD Day in the hospital, but I am very aware of how quickly things can go downhill for me if I am not careful about the foods I eat. Remember today that IBD is not just a bathroom disease. IBD does not mean one thing, but can lead to so many different complications for different people.”

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“I got the purple ribbon with a dragon. Never stop fighting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

Image result for women's health week 2017

From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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Our favorite recipes that are good for digestion

Everyone knows we love tasty recipes that are good for your gut. Over the years we’ve shared a bunch for different occasions. So we thought we’d revisit our favorites as a yummy reminder of all the goodness you can get while still treating yourself right.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

Image result for healthy meals

Not all food that’s good for digestion is rabbit food.

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Here are the ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic

This stir fry is really versatile, so you can use any type of sturdy, leafy green. Kale and chard hold up well when sauteed, and spinach would wilt nicely as well.

Here are the ingredients.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Lentil Soup

Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame gives us this simple soup that’s loaded with veggies. It also calls for lentils, which are great for your digestive tract.

There are a few steps in the process, each one easier than the next. You saute carrots, celery and onions, then add tomatoes and broth, boil the lentils and at the very end, add some pasta.

With a recipe like this, you can add any veggies you have. Zucchini and squash would make it a fall favorite. And if there’s something you don’t have, just leave it out.

Here are the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Get the directions here.

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Better colonoscopy prep in the works

Image result for colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is by far the best way to detect and prevent digestive issues such as colon cancer.

Oh, the colonoscopy. Although it’s the most effective way to detect and thereby prevent colon cancer and other digestive issues, some people are still reluctant to commit to the procedure. Ask just about anyone who’s endured the quick and painless process, and they’ll tell you that the prep is the most difficult part.

Reports the Chicago Tribune: “Data suggest that about 40 percent of the people who should get a colonoscopy don’t, mostly because of the prep,” says Douglas Rex, a distinguished professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

A typical colonoscopy involves drinking lots and lots of not-so-tasty liquids followed by lots and lots of trips to the toilet. Nothing is going to change in the toilet department, but the liquids are getting a face lift.

Researchers are experimenting with flavored shakes and bars such as strawberry banana or coconut that have the same effect as the historically dreaded liquid.

“Those drinking the new products were twice as likely as those who used the standard prep solution to be satisfied and four times as likely to recommend it,” says the Tribune.

The products should be available to patients in about two years.

The entire goal of these new prep methods is to get more people to commit to a colonoscopy, as it’s undoubtedly the number one way to detect and prevent cancer, tumors, polyps and other intestinal abnormalities.

“The easier you make it for people, the more you can improve their adherence,” says Susan Czajkowski, chief of the health behaviors research branch of the National Cancer Institute.

“The perfect screen has no value if it isn’t used.”

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Colon cancer rates on the rise in young people

Image result for young person at doctor

Listen to your body and be honest with your doctor. Early screening can detect and prevent complications from colon cancer.

As we continue through Colon Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to increase the conversations people have about the disease. Knowing that screenings are by far the most effective way to detect colon cancer early can even work to prevent it altogether.

An unfortunate trend in the fight against colon cancer is a spike in the amount of young people diagnosed. Formerly considered a disease reserved for older men, this new uptick in folks under 40 is disturbing but also mostly unexplained.

“People born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as people born in 1950 faced at the same age,” says CBS New York.

For people of an average risk, the standard age to begin screening for colon cancer is 50. The only problem with that guideline is that younger folks are getting missed, often until it’s too late.

While the medical community struggles to pinpoint the cause of the surge, many speculate that changes in lifestyle and diet are to blame.

“Prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets,” said researchers from the American Cancer Society.

In other words, the behaviors we know are bad for us, and cause health issues across the board, are the likely culprit in the uptick in colon cancer.

While the statistics are alarming, the overall rates of colon cancer in younger people is still low. But that doesn’t mean there’s no lesson in this – be your own health advocate. Listen to your body and work with your doctor to pinpoint when something is wrong.

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