Autoimmune disease is recognized as a major health crisis in the United States. Today, 50 million Americans—80 percent of whom are women—suffer one or more autoimmune conditions. Thirty years ago, only one in 400 people developed an autoimmune disease. Today, one in 12 Americans—one in nine women—have an autoimmune disease. More women are diagnosed each year with an autoimmune disease than breast cancer and cardiovascular disease combined.
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissue. Some of the more common conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, but the National Institutes of Health estimates there are more than 100 types of autoimmune diseases.
David J. Bilstrom, MD—the Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine—reveals how and why testing of the gut is one of the four main tests needed for anyone with an autoimmune disease.
What is a Digestive Stool Analysis test?
The gut is a central mechanism in autoimmune disease. Testing of the gut is one of the four main tests needed on anyone with an autoimmune disease. The Digestive Stool Analysis will look at:
- Good bacteria
- Bad bacteria
- Digestive enzymes
- Inflammation markers
- Nutrients the gut needs to function
These tests provide information about what is wrong with the gut and how it could be disrupting the immune system. Most hospital and clinic settings would test for chronic infections through a stool sample. At the International Autoimmune Institute, however, we send off samples to gain information—that can’t be found in tests run by hospitals—in order to restore the gut.
The four ‘R’s’ of gut restoration
In order to restore the function of the gut we must: remove, repopulate, replenish, and repair.
Many have the experience of removing something from their diet, such as gluten-containing foods, which can then make a profound difference. Through removal they have achieved repair. The difficult aspect is understanding what needs to be removed.
“Some say, ‘I removed gluten and I don’t feel any better, so I don’t think I have a gluten issue,’” Dr. Bilstrom says. “Well you removed gluten, which is nice, but you may have other foods you need to remove, or you may have bad bacteria you need to remove, or mold that needs to be removed. You really have to remove everything that needs removal if you want to hope to successfully achieve repair.”
In some cases removal does not ultimately lead to repair and now feeling great in general because you still need to repopulate and replenish. Repopulate is the good bacteria; ideally there are thousands of different types of bacteria doing their work together in order to achieve repair. Replenish are the nutrients and hormones the gut needs to function optimally.
What can throw off the good bacteria?
Antibiotics are one of the most common medicines that can interfere with good bacteria. Disruption can also be caused by:
- Acid blocking medicines
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine, such as Ibuprofen
- Oral estrogens, such as birth control pills
“When good bacteria gets disrupted you have to repopulate well, and that’s where probiotics come in,” Dr. Bilstrom says. “Also, you have to replenish because the gut needs a lot of different kinds of vitamins and minerals and hormones to do its work. Vitamin D is super important in gut restoration as are the B vitamins, thyroid hormone, and cortisol. Stress really nails the gut. A lot of people have the experience of being stressed and ‘Gurgle, gurgle’ goes my gut.’”
Through removal, repopulation, and replenishing gut repair can be achieved. Through digestive stool analysis, we can acquire the information that will give us the knowledge we need to get the restoration to take that immune system imbalance and bring it back.
About David Bilstrom, MD
Dr. Bilstrom is Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine, which is the first medical center in the country to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. It is also the first to use nature, and its ability to improve human health and well-being, as an integral part of a wellness program.
Dr. Bilstrom works closely with experts in a number of medical specialties to evaluate, diagnose and treat chronic and autoimmune diseases. He is always welcoming new patients at his office within the Bingham Specialty Plaza in Blackfoot. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (208) 782-2444.
Taking the mind, body, and spirit into consideration, Dr. Bilstrom understands firsthand the benefits integrated medicine can provide to patients. He is triple board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Functional and Regenerative Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture. He has extensive experience in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, Acupuncture, Integrative Medicine, and Complementary and Alternative Medicines.
Bingham Specialty Plaza
326 Poplar Street
T: (208) 782-2444