Our Approach to Autoimmune and Gut Health

Jun 19, 2024By Tarpon Springs Wellness Center
Tarpon Springs Wellness Center

Autoimmune diseases impact approximately 4.5% of the global population and up to 50 million Americans, with prevalence steadily increasing. Research indicates significant concern over this rise, attributing it to environmental changes, lifestyle factors, stress, and nutrition.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), are particularly on the rise, with global rates increasing by as much as 46%. This article explores the role of nutritional interventions in managing IBD and highlights how Tarpon Springs Wellness Center can help those seeking answers through comprehensive lab work.

Understanding Autoimmune IBD
Autoimmune diseases arise from a complex interplay of factors that lead to immune system dysfunction. Instead of defending the body against harmful invaders, the immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks the body's tissues.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to chronic autoimmune conditions that involve a dysregulated immune response in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing inflammation, pain, and tissue damage. The two primary forms of IBD are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), each with unique characteristics, symptoms, and inflammation patterns.

Symptoms of IBD
IBD encompasses two distinct conditions:

Crohn's Disease (CD) primarily affects the small intestine but can occur anywhere along the digestive tract. Symptoms may include:
-Blood loss
-Abdominal pain
-Abdominal distension
-Weight loss

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) affects the large intestine. Symptoms may include:
-Rectal bleeding
-Lower abdominal pain
-Severe dehydration
-Weight loss

Causes of IBD
There are over 80 recognized autoimmune diseases, and their development is linked to a combination of risk factors, including environment, lifestyle, infections, genetic predisposition, and nutrition.

In both CD and UC, the immune system mistakenly attacks the GI tract, leading to inflammation and disruptive symptoms. These factors, combined with additional risk elements, increase the likelihood of developing IBD.

Genetic Factors
-Genetic Predisposition: Family history of IBD can indicate a higher risk due to shared genetic and environmental factors.
-Epigenetic Expression: Epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation, influence gene expression related to IBD.

Environmental Factors
-Infections: Certain infections can trigger autoimmunity through mechanisms like molecular mimicry.
-Antibiotics: Overuse can alter the microbiome, reducing diversity and potentially leading to IBD.
-Toxins: Exposure to harmful substances can damage the GI tract and disrupt the immune system.

Lifestyle Factors
-Nutrition: A significant portion of the immune system resides in the gut. Poor dietary habits can increase intestinal permeability, inflammation, and immune dysregulation.
-Physical Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate inflammation and other IBD-related factors.
-Stress and Sleep: Chronic stress and inadequate sleep can heighten inflammation and immune imbalances.

Diagnosing IBD
An IBD diagnosis is conducted by a qualified practitioner and may involve the following steps:

-Comprehensive Patient History and Physical Exam: Gathering detailed information about the patient's medical history and performing a thorough physical examination.
-Blood Tests: To identify specific antibodies and inflammatory markers that can help diagnose and distinguish between Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).
-Stool Tests: To detect inflammatory markers and underlying imbalances in the gut.

At Tarpon Springs Wellness Center, we offer in-house laboratory work at a discounted rate, making it easier and more affordable for our patients to undergo the necessary tests. Our comprehensive lab services are designed to provide detailed insights into your health, helping you find answers and develop effective treatment plans.

Functional Medicine Labs for IBD
Functional medicine labs are valuable tools for identifying underlying imbalances and inflammatory markers in IBD patients. They provide detailed insights that can guide personalized treatment interventions, often revealing issues that conventional labs might overlook.

Comprehensive Stool Analysis
A Comprehensive Stool Analysis assesses microbiome balance and inflammatory markers, providing insights into potential dysbiosis and intestinal permeability that may require intervention to improve overall gut health.

Food Sensitivity Testing
Food Sensitivity Tests evaluate the immune response to various foods that may contribute to GI damage, inflammation, and the severity of autoimmune diseases. These tests help to create personalized nutrition plans.

Autoimmune Testing
Autoimmune tests measure specific antibodies to differentiate between CD and UC. For example, anti-saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) may indicate CD, while perinuclear anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (pANCA) can indicate UC. Additionally, testing for non-specific inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and assessing common micronutrient deficiencies due to GI tract damage and absorption issues can be helpful.

Effective diagnosis and management of IBD require a combination of comprehensive patient history, physical examination, targeted testing, and advanced diagnostic imaging. 

By offering in-house laboratory work at discounted rates, Tarpon Springs Wellness Center ensures that patients have access to the necessary diagnostic tools to manage their condition effectively. Our functional medicine labs provide deeper insights into individual health, allowing for tailored treatment plans that address the root causes of IBD and improve patient outcomes.

At Tarpon Springs Wellness Center, we are dedicated to helping you find the answers you need and providing the support and care required to manage your health. If you are seeking a thorough evaluation and effective management plan for IBD, contact us today to schedule a complimentary appointment and take the first step towards better health.

If you are seeking a thorough evaluation and effective management plan for IBD, contact us today at [email protected] or call/text us at (727) 279-0067. If you don't see a time that works for you, we are flexible and more than happy to accommodate your schedule either in-person, over the phone, or by HIPAA-protected video chat.