We’re kicking off our “Ask an Expert” series with Dr. Tracie Hinton-Chavez from Deep Roots Natural Medicine to learn about the gut-brain connection and functional medicine. Dr. Tracie has supported buddhi -- and members of our community -- since our start, and is uniquely experienced in helping people heal from the inside out to live with more energy and clarity.
Below you’ll find her expert responses to questions submitted from members of our community. Check them out to learn how functional medicine can play a role in your own healing journey, whether you have been through cancer treatment, recovery or are just curious about functional medicine and digestive health.
Still craving more? Tune into our Instagram live with Dr. Tracie as a follow-up to this!
Can you talk about the effects of cancer treatment on our gut?
Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can cause distress on the gut. This distress causes an inflammatory response that makes it hard for our good bacteria to thrive. The process used to destroy cancerous cells may also deplete our gut from the good bacteria which we rely on for a healthy digestion and immune system. This can lead to lack of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea and gas. An example would be a patient experiencing vomiting or diarrhea from ill effects of chemotherapy, this can also deplete good bacteria in the body. Unmanaged stress can also affect gut health.
How do I get my gut in balance during and after treatments?
You may want to find a functional medicine doctor to perform a comprehensive stool test, so you know exactly what complications are happening in your gut. This way you can start the correct healing process for you, each person is unique and may present with different complications. The functional medicine doctor should also spend time explaining what was found, what nutritional path you should take and natural supplements or herbs to get your gut back on track. The sooner you can do this the more positive response you’ll have in healing your gut.
Should I have tests done if I am constipated even if it is a side effect of treatment?
If you're having mild constipation, I always ask patients if they’re drinking enough water. Most of the time this is the problem, and it will get better once you’re back on track with being hydrated. Cancer treatments can cause excessive dryness and keeping up on hydration is important. If you’re experiencing chronic constipation let your treating physician know. I recommend patients going through cancer treatment wait until those treatments are completed before doing a gut test.
Can you test for food allergies? What kind of testing do you offer?
Yes, I test for food allergies. I don’t always recommend starting with food sensitivity testing, if you’re inflamed and having a lot of trouble, chances are you’ll be sensitive to most foods. Instead, I like to work on ways to decrease inflammation first and when it calms down, get a more accurate food sensitivity result. I also use a comprehensive blood test to look at overall/whole body health, hormone and cortisol testing.
What are signs of inflammation / gut imbalance?
Common signs include belching, heartburn, bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation and food intolerance. This doesn’t happen overnight and you may see these symptoms start to increase in frequency and intensity over a period of time.
Does your stool consistency or regularity indicate gut health or imbalance?
Yes, we can learn so much about gut health by looking at our stool! Consistency should be formed and easy to pass, we don’t want to see undigested food, watery stool or hard pellets- these are signs that your gut is having a problem. We should have a bowel movement daily, as long as you’re eating and hydrating properly.