15 Facts You Might Not Know About Colorectal Cancer

7 Reasons to Schedule Your Colon Cancer Screening Today

Why Should I See a Gastroenterologist?


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Press Release: New Medication to CURE Hepatitis C

  
  

 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Doctors in Louisiana are ready to start prescribed a revolutionary Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, which has been proven to clinically cure up to 90% of cases of Hepatitis C in clinical trials.

cure for hepatitis C in Baton RougeNearly 4 million Americans are affected by Hepatitis C, which is most common in the Baby Boomer generation. The virus is even more prevalent in developing countries like India, Pakistan, China, and Egypt. Because Hepatitis C can be asymptomatic for years, many people are unaware that they are infected, and may remain unaware until serious symptoms develop.

Hepatitis C became widespread in the 1980s, when the virus infected blood supplies but was not yet detected. Now, it continues to be spread by sharing contaminated needles, and in rare cases by sharing contaminated manicure supplies and toothbrushes. It can also be contracted in health care settings if equipment is contaminated or needle stick injuries occur.

3 times as many people live with Hepatitis C as lived with HIV, and the virus is often deadly. Over a course of years or decades, the virus causes cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. It can be fatal without a liver transplant, and the effects are especially pronounced in patients who also have HIV.

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, and traditional Hepatitis C treatments came with a long laundry list of common side effects and were neither as quick nor as effective as the new drug. The new Hepatitis C drug requires a 12-week regimen, and the majority of patients studied showed no traces of the virus or need for continued drug therapy.

The drug has been the subject of some controversy due to its cost, which sits at $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 per 12-week treatment cycle, but doctors say that the cost of the treatment is dwarfed by the lifetime cost of treating advanced Hepatitis C. In addition, insurance companies are likely to cover the cost of treatment after prior authorization.

A comprehensive approach to Hepatitis C treatment is recommended, especially now that early treatment is more effective. Preventative measures such as addiction treatment, needle exchanges, and blood donation screening will continue to reduce rates of the virus. Early detection is also essential, since the virus is more difficult to treat the more damage has been done.

Dr. Christopher J. Christensen, a gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Associates, was involved in developing Solvadi. Interested patients can call (225)  927-1190 for a consultation.

  Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

What causes esophageal cancer?

  
  

throat cancer baton rougeEsophageal cancer affects the esophagus, the long tube that takes food from the back of the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer can take the form of either squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the flat cells that line the esophagus; or adenocarcinoma, which affects the cells that secrete mucous. 

Anyone can get esophageal cancer, regardless of whether or not they have risk factors; similarly, some people with many risk factors never get esophageal cancer. However, there are a number of risk factors that can significantly increase the risk of esophageal cancer: 

  • Gender - Men are three times as likely to develop esophageal disorders as women
  • Age - As with most cancers, the risk of esophageal cancer is highest after 65
  • Tobacco - Using any form of tobacco, including cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, increases the risk of esophageal cancer. The effect is more pronounced when use is higher and goes on for longer
  • Alcohol - High intake of alcohol increases your risk. The risk is particularly magnified for people who smoke and drink regularly
  • Diet - Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk, while eating a diet high in processed meats may increase your risk. Overeating is also associated with an increased risk.
  • Obesity - Obese people are more likely to develop esophageal cancer
  • Gastroesophageal reflex disorder (GERD) - Apart from immediate effects such as discomfort, and relatively short-term effects such as oral problems, GERD is associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. The risk is higher the longer you have the condition and the more severe the symptoms are
  • Barrett's Esophagus - People with chronic GERD can develop Barrett's Esophagus, in which the squamous cells of the lower esophagus are replaced by gland cells more associated with the small intestine. This condition is associated with a significant increase in the risk of other esophageal disorders, like cancer
  • Achalasia - If the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach doesn't relax properly, it can't stretch out all the time. Food then sits in the lower esophagus, causing irritation. Achalasia is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer 

If you have heartburn symptoms for more than 5 years or if you are 50 years old or older, our endoscopy may identify precancerous conditions like Barrett’s esophagus and assist in early detection or prevention of esophageal cancer.

Like all cancers, esophageal cancer is easiest to treat when it is detected early. For that reason, you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you start to develop symptoms of esophageal cancer. Some of the most common symptoms include pain or difficulty swallowing; weight loss; chest pain; coughing; hoarseness; and heartburn. 

To schedule a consultation with Baton Rouge's top gastroenterologists, please contact us at 225.927.1190 or click here for an appointment.  

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

IBD and the Flu

  
  

Flu and IBD

About IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of diseases that affect the small intestine and/or the colon. The diseases differ somewhat in their severity and manifestation, but they are all autoimmune diseases, or diseases in which the body attacks its own tissue as foreign. Some forms include:

•             Ulcerative colitis

•             Crohn's disease

•             Diversion colitis

•             Lymphocytic colitis

The bowels are responsible for processing and absorbing nutrients, as well as attacking dangerous pathogens. With such an important function, it's no surprise that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can have wide-ranging effects on overall health. A recent study shows that IBD patients are much more likely to get the flu than people without IBD, and doctors are now recommending that IBD patients receive annual vaccinations. This is especially important since Louisiana is experiencing some of the highest nation-wide rates of influenza.

About the Flu

Influenza is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, affecting millions of people each year. The flu is a virus which affects the respiratory tract, and can vary considerably in its severity. Although most young, healthy individuals are able to fight it off with just a few days of discomfort, the flu is actually a common cause of death. Death can occur after complications of influenza, like pneumonia, sinus infections, or dehydration, or the worsening of pre-existing conditions like congestive heart failure and asthma.

Symptoms of the flu include: 

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose

The Link

As mentioned above, a recent study has revealed that IBD patients - even young patients - have a significantly higher risk of becoming infected with the flu. The study did not determine conclusively whether or not IBD patients had a higher chance of developing serious complications of influenza, but future studies may reveal this information.

Flu Vaccination

Every year, epidemiologists develop a flu vaccine designed to vaccinate against the year's most prevalent forms of the flu. Although many people can benefit from flu vaccination, it's especially beneficial for certain groups. People with young children, people who work in health care or school settings, elderly people, and people with IBD should all be sure to get an annual flu vaccine.

Since there are many strains of the flu, vaccination won't eliminate your chances of getting it; however, it will significantly reduce your risk. You can get your flu vaccine at your doctor's office, or at your local pharmacy. To schedule your appointment today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

board certified gastroenterologist

 

Colon Cancer Symptoms

  
  

colon cancer Baton RougeColon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It's important to be attuned to symptoms that could indicate colon cancer. However, the condition is notorious for being asymptomatic.

Potential Symptoms

In some cases, patients with colorectal cancer start to experience symptoms. Possible symptoms include:

•             A change in bowel habits, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation

•             Abdominal pain, possibly accompanied by bloating and cramps

•             Feeling unable to void the bowel

•             Blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, or black, tarry stools

•             Unexplained weight loss

•             Persistent, unexplained weakness or fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to contact your physician. Your doctor will perform diagnostic testing to determine the exact cause. All of the above symptoms can also indicate less serious conditions, like hemorrhoids, infection, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Colon Cancer is Often Symptomless

Although some patients do experience symptoms, the majority of patients with early-stage colon cancer don't experience any symptoms at all. That's why screening is so important for the early detection and prevention of colon cancer.

Who Needs Screening?

People who are at an elevated risk for colon cancer should be screened regularly, so that it can be caught even if it isn't yet causing symptoms. Early screening can also detect polyps that have the potential to become cancerous later on.

Three main tests are used to screen for cancer. Fecal occult blood test looks for signs of cancer in three consecutive stool samples, which you can collect at home. This test should be performed annually starting at age 50.

Sigmoidoscopy allows doctors to view the inside of your rectum and the nearest part of your colon, the sigmoid colon. It should be performed every 5 years starting at age 50. A colonoscopy is the strongest tool for early detection of cancer, and lets the doctor look at the inside of the entire colon. It should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50. Any of these tests may also be used to help diagnose the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms.

Patients at an elevated risk of colon cancer should be screened more frequently. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colon cancer, or a personal history of polyps, your doctor may recommend that you start getting screened earlier, and get screened more frequently.

To schedule your colonoscopy today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates by calling (225) 927-1190.

Contact Our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Colonoscopies in Baton Rouge

  
  

colonoscopies in Baton RougeIn the fight against colorectal cancer, the colonoscopy is one of the most valuable tools. Although colonoscopies only need to be performed every once in a while, they prove to be extremely useful for detecting and preventing colon cancer.   Colonoscopies unfortunately carry a bit of a social stigma for being embarrassing or possibly painful.  Many individuals who have had colonoscopies performed will attest to the fact that the procedure is largely pain-free, and the preparatory options have improved drastically in recent years as well.  The doctors who perform colonoscopies at Gastroenterology Associates have years of training and experience with colonoscopies, and they treat them much like an orthopedist would an injured joint or a dermatologist would a skin condition.

Importance of a Colonoscopy

Most of the time, people with colon cancer don't experience any symptoms. This is especially true in the early stages of the disease. At the same time, detecting the disease as soon as possible is a priority, because this reduces the chances of pre-cancerous or cancerous growths developing further and improves prognosis.

Therefore, doctors rely on timely screening to detect colon cancer early. There are three main screening tools: fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. A fecal occult blood test involves laboratory analysis of stool samples; a sigmoidoscopy allows the doctor to view the inside of the nearest part of your rectum and colon; and a colonoscopy allows the doctor to see the entire colon.

A colonoscopy is the most precise and comprehensive test. Since it lets doctors view the entire colon, the potential for detection is the highest. In addition, it's possible to perform biopsies and remove polyps during a colonoscopy. That's why, even if you're getting your other recommended screenings, it's still important to get your colonoscopy.

Who Needs Colonoscopies?

At-risk groups should get colonoscopies and other colon cancer screenings according to the recommended timelines of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Cancer Society. Most organizations recommend the following:

•             Fecal occult blood testing every year starting at age 50

•             Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years starting at age 50

•             Colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50, 45 if you are African American

•             More frequent, earlier screening for people with medical conditions or a family history that increases the risk of colon cancer

Studies show that colorectal cancer rates are lower, and survival rates are higher, in populations where the majority of people undergo the recommended screenings.  This fact doesn’t bode well for Louisiana residents, as we rank 46th in the nation for timely screening of at-risk groups.  Further detrimental impacts to Louisianaians, in terms of colon cancer risks, are our state’s high obesity rates and generally high fat diets.

What Kind of Doctor?

Many general practitioners offer colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and other types of colon cancer screening. However, the best option is to go to a board-certified gastroenterologist. There are a number of advantages to this:

•             More skill in performing the procedure

•             Lower margin of error in diagnosing issues

•             Fewer pre-cancerous polyps overlooked

•             Ability to keep going to the same doctor for treatment if any issues are detected

Baton Rouge Doctors Who Perform Colonoscopies

The team of experts at the Gastroenterology Associates would be happy to schedule your colonoscopy, as well as any necessary digestive health screenings. To schedule your consultation today, please fill out the contact form here and we will get right back to you.  You can also reach our scheduling team for a visit to our Colon Cancer Screening clinic by calling 225.927.1190.

Contact Our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

What do I need to Know About Colon Cancer?

  
  

facts on colon cancerColon cancer is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer deaths. It is the third leading cause of deaths in the US and the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  With proper screening and early detection, colon cancer is 90% preventable.  It's important to have a basic understanding of colorectal cancer and its prevention. Below, we'll explore some of the basic facts you should know.

How Common is it?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States, behind skin and lung cancers. Each year, over 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition. Sadly, an estimated 52,000 Americans will die from colon cancer this year.  The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer is 1 in 20.  Colon cancer is a major health concern.  The American Cancer Society has launched massive awareness campaigns to educate at-risk populations about getting screened in order to reduce the rates of diagnosis and death of colon cancer.

How Does it Start?

Before cancer occurs, precancerous polyps develop. These polyps, which lie on the walls of the colon or rectum, aren't cancerous, but have the potential to become cancerous later on. Once cancer starts to develop, it usually develops slowly, over the course of a decade or longer.  Colonoscopy, the most effective and complete screening, has the ability to remove polyps during the procedure and cut the risk of them developing further into colon cancer.

Who's at Risk?

Certain groups have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. These groups should be screened more frequently, and should consider making lifestyle changes to help lower their risk. Risk factors include:

•             Age over 50

•             African-American ethnicity

•             Obesity

•             Diet low in fiber and high in fat

•             Lack of exercise

•             Smoking

•             Excessive alcohol consumption

•             Inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

•             Family history of colon cancer

•             Personal history of colon cancer or polyps

Is it Preventable?

Colorectal cancer is preventable. When polyps are detected early, they can be removed before they become cancerous. In addition, people in high-risk groups can make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. On top of prevention, colon cancer is most treatable when caught early.  If colon cancer is caught in the earliest stages (Stage 1), when it is most easily treated and removed, the prognosis is best – 90% of these cases will survive 5 years or more.  As colon cancer spreads, the survival rates decline, making early detection the vital component of survival.

What are the Symptoms?

Patients with colorectal cancer may experiences changes in their bowel habits, discomfort, or blood in the stool. These symptoms are all significant and warrant investigation by a professional. However, the majority of cases are asymptomatic, meaning that cancer colon cancer can be progressing without ever producing any symptoms.  Some symptoms of colon cancer can be symptoms of other digestive health issues. For example, blood in the stool may be a symptom of colon cancer or hemorrhoids, but neither of these should be left to the individual for diagnosis. An examination by a board-certified gastroenterologist, like the ones at Gastroenterology Associates, will provide concrete answers to the cause of symptoms and a course of action for any treatments.

How is it Screened?

People who are at an elevated risk for colorectal cancer should be screened regularly. For most people, screening starts at age 50, but your doctor may recommend earlier, more frequent screening in some cases. The colonoscopy is the most effective screening tool, and should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50 (earlier for some). During a colonoscopy, the doctor can detect and possibly remove any polyps, as well as take a biopsy of any abnormal growths in the colon. A sigmoidoscopy should be performed every 5 years. A fecal occult blood test should be performed each year.

To schedule your routine colorectal cancer screening, please contact the physicians with Gastroenterology Associates at the Digestive Health Center of Louisiana in Baton Rouge by clicking here and filling out the form or by calling 225.927.1190.

Contact Our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!

  
  

Gastroenterology Associates Baton RougeGastroenterology Associates are a group of specialists who deal with the health and diseases of the digestive system.  The problems treated by a gastroenterologist can range from GERD (acid reflux) to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But during the month of March, a nation-wide push for awareness of colorectal cancer, another disease treated by the team at Gastroenterology Associates, becomes a major local focus too.  Colon Cancer Awareness has been a huge initiative for the American Cancer Society in recent years, because it is such a preventable disease.  March has even been recognized by the president as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Colorectal Cancer is cancer of the colon and/or rectum and usually develops over a period of years and starts as pre-cancerous colon polyps.  An individual has approximately a 1 in 20 chance of being diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.  However, colorectal cancer is one of the MOST PREVENTABLE cancers, with up to 90% possibly avoided with early detection.  For this reason, your Baton Rouge gastroenterologists, at Gastroenterology Associates, have launched a massive awareness campaign on a local level to work to get the attention of at-risk individuals.

Who’s at risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Over 90% of all colorectal cancer cases occur in individuals over the age of 50.  This is where screening should begin, but due to recent research on colorectal cancer variances in race, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that screening begin at age 45 for African-Americans.  Also, there are several risk factors for the disease, some modifiable and some not, that might predispose an individual to colorectal cancer, and these can include:

  • Family History/ First Degree Relative with Colorectal Cancer- increases risk 2-3 times
  • Personal History of genetic syndrome, such as Lynch or Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Personal History of Colorectal Cancer- increased risk of recurrence
  • Personal History of Colon Polyps, especially if polyps were large or multiple
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Being Overweight or Obese
  • Poor Diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol Consumption

What Does This Mean To Me?

Every year, over 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and over 50,000 Americans will dies from the disease annually.  Estimates place the number of colorectal cancer deaths that could have been prevented with timely screening at about half of the annual deaths.  Colorectal cancer screening, optimally done with a colonoscopy performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, can detect pre-cancerous polyps, and they can be removed before turning into cancer.  This is when screening becomes a life-saving procedure.  More importantly still, colonoscopy and other screening tests also help to find colorectal cancer, preferably early while still most treatable and has the best prognosis.

 Screening reduces mortality both by decreasing incidence and by detecting cancers at earlier, more treatable stages. The goals of screening for colorectal cancer are the prevention of cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths and the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage. 

How Can I Get Screened For Colorectal Cancer?

Louisiana ranks 46th in the nation for timely screening of at-risk individuals for colon cancer.  Despite the many reasons that could be contributing to the lag in proper and on-time screening of Louisianans, the colon cancer doctors at Gastroenterology Associates have tried to make gaining access to screening as easy as possible. The Colon Cancer Screening clinic, sometimes called the Open Access Clinic, is set up specifically for individuals looking to be screened. The colon cancer screening clinic in Baton Rouge does not require a physician’s referral, but eligible patients should meet the following criteria:

  • Must be 50 years of age or have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Must be in general good health
  • No previous colonoscopy or 5-7 years since last colonoscopy
  • If medical problems are detected during this screening visit, patients will be scheduled for an evaluation by one of our physicians

If you meet the above criteria, please click the button below to fill out an online request for appointment or call (225) 927-1190 now to schedule your free pre-procedure evaluation at our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic.  Let’s Get BEHIND Screening!

Contact Our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic

What is a colonoscopy?

  
  

colonoscopy Baton RougeA colonoscopy is a medical test used to screen for colon cancer and other bowel issues. During a colonoscopy, a camera is used to view the inner lining of your large intestine and rectum. Colonoscopies should be performed routinely in a number of populations, as we'll explore below.

The Basics

To perform a colonoscopy, your doctor will thread a camera on a thin tube through the colon. Prior to a colonoscopy, you'll undergo a colon cleanse for 1-2 days, in which you'll take a solution that helps you clear out the intestines. During the colonoscopy, you will be placed under mild sedation and anesthesia, so you won't feel or remember the procedure.

Your doctor will look for:

  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding

From there, the information will be used to support a diagnosis, plan for treatment, or order more tests.

Who Needs It

Colon cancer and polyps are more common in people over 50, so routine colonoscopies are recommended every several years for all people over 50. Your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy more often if you have a history of cancer or polyps, or a family history of colon cancer. In addition, your doctor may order a colonoscopy based on symptoms like bleeding, pain, or weight loss.

Why It's Important

Having your recommended colonoscopy is absolutely essential to your long-term health. Colon cancer is very treatable, especially when it's caught early on or before polyps actually develop into cancer. Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer and death, and colonoscopies can help prevent and treat many cases.

Many people are reluctant to get their colonoscopy because they fear it will be uncomfortable, painful, or embarrassing. It's true that the process of cleaning out the colon prior to the procedure can be uncomfortable; you may experience loose stools and diarrhea. Despite this, neither the procedure nor the preparation should be actively painful.

During the procedure, your doctor will work to ensure that you have privacy and are as comfortable as possible. Doctors view the colon as just another body part, and see the colon and rectum every day; however, your doctor will understand your discomfort and take steps to combat it.

A colonoscopy is a simple screening procedure that can save lives. It is relatively quick to undergo, and can help you identify bowel issues before you have serious symptoms and complications. If you are over 50, have other risk factors, or have been recommended to do so by your physician, you should schedule a colonoscopy as soon as possible.

To schedule your colon cancer screening today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

Contact Our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Obesity and GI Health

  
  

obesity and GI health Baton RougeRates of obesity have risen rapidly since the 1980s, thanks to a variety of factors. This rise in obesity has led to widespread effects on health; obese people are much more likely to develop cardiovascular, orthopedic, gastrointestinal (GI) and other health problems at some point in their life - even if their obesity isn't currently causing symptoms.

The Rise in Obesity

Obesity has become an epidemic over the last several decades. 60.5% of Americans were overweight as of 2005, while 23.9% were classified as obese, and 3% were severely obese. Children are far from immune from these effects: an unprecedented 17% of children are obese, with 5% classified as severely obese. Children who are obese are very much more likely to stay obese throughout their lives, with only a small number reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Causes

Almost every American is at least passingly aware of the risks associated with obesity and poor eating, yet the majority of Americans still struggle with being overweight or obese. On an individual level, a sedentary lifestyle - commonly identified as a culprit - may be a contributing factor. Indeed, studies have shown that increased amounts of television watching are associated with an increase in weight.

However, on a societal level, there hasn't been much change in overall activity levels over the last few decades; people are just as active today as they were in the 1970s. More to blame are changes in diet. Since the 1970s, portion sizes have increased dramatically, and refined sugar has found its way into almost every processed food. The modern American diet is high in calories, simple carbohydrates, salt, and saturated fat.

What's more, experts believe that this diet can be addictive. Processed food is designed to be pleasing to the palate, with ideal combinations of sugary and salty tastes that lead consumers to keep coming back for more - even if they know the consequences.

Effects

Obesity can impact almost every area of health. Considering the fact that food is so closely linked to obesity, it should be no surprise that GI health is particularly impacted. Obese people have an increased risk of many GI disorders, including:

Treating Obesity

The causes of obesity are complex and hard to address on a societal level, and the epidemic doesn't show signs of slowing down. However, there is still a great deal of hope for every individual patient with obesity. Changing your diet is difficult, but it can reduce your risk of a wide range of conditions, and even help treat and manage any current GI conditions you have.

Exercise is important for long-term health, including GI health, but diet is the key factor. Experts recommend switching to a diet that is rich in vegetables (the more color, the better), whole grains (100% whole wheat bread, quinoa, oats, brown rice), and healthy sources of fat (olive oil and butter as opposed to hydrogenated oils and margarine) and protein (eggs, poultry, soy, lean cuts of red meat), much like the Mediterranean diet. Refined grains and sugar should play a smaller role in the diet. 

A regimen of a healthy diet involving portion control, watching calories consumed, and exercising regularly are all integral components needed for weight loss.  More information can be acquired and made more applicable to your individual circumstances by talking to your doctor.  To schedule a consultation about your gastrointestinal health, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

Race and colon cancer

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Microbes & Gut Health: A Vital Relationship

  
  

GI health and the microbiomeMicroorganisms live all over the body - on our skin, mouth, nose, teeth, and throat, as well as in the gut. The bacteria known as "normal flora" area actually quite beneficial for health - they prevent the body from being colonized by harmful microbes, and they may help the body perform important actions.

For example, microbes play a key role in digestion in general and gut health in particular. The intestines contain millions of bacteria that help break down food that our own bodies can't; without gut bacteria, overall gut health declines, causing issues like diarrhea, constipation, and gas. In addition, new research is linking a number of other medical issues to microbes.

Imbalance

In adults, there are a number of causes of poor microbial health. One of the most common issues is having an incident of food poisoning or infection, which causes diarrhea and basically "wipes out" the microbes that normally live in the gut. This issue also occurs when you take antibiotics.

A healthy gut can recolonize after such an incident, but in the meantime, you are more prone to infection and the other effects of a poor microbial balance in the gut. People with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease may be especially prone to these effects.

Cutting-Edge Findings

The fact that microbes affect gut health is well-established and important, but a number of research studies have suggested that the effects of microbes on overall health may go much further. Research is still preliminary in these areas; some studies were performed only in animals, and many more studies will be needed to draw more conclusive connections.

However, the current findings suggest that gut health may be connected to many other aspects of health. Brain problems like autism, depression, and ADHD; obesity; heart disease; and more.

Treatment

There are a number of ways to improve your gut health by promoting the growth of healthy microorganisms. One of the most important things you can do is to incorporate a yogurt or other live-culture probiotic into your diet. Yogurt contains healthy bacteria that can promote gut health - just be sure that the yogurt you choose has live cultures.

There are also some cutting-edge treatments that can be used for severe microbial imbalance. For example, a stool transplant, or fecal bacteriotherapy, can be used to introduce healthy gut bacteria in people with colitis, irritable bowel disease, and C. difficile infection.

Your doctor can talk to you in more detail about how microbes may be affecting your gut health. To schedule a consultation about your gut health, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

7 reasons for colon cancer screening

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

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