Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down and talking to Dr. Chuck Collins, one of the inventors of my favorite gut product, DigestShield. DigestShield is digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics, all in one capsule. I (and most of my patients) take it daily. It’s the best over the counter digestive aid I’ve seen in my 36 years of practice.
As you know, I do a lot of work with balancing the gut microbiome. Dr. Collins and I spoke about this in detail, mostly in relation to antibiotic use. In this Note, I will give you some key takeaways from that podcast that I feel are important in navigating issues with antibiotics and the gut.
Let’s dive in.
Antibiotics And The Gut
First off, who is Dr. Chuck Collins? Dr. Chuck Collins is a dissolution chemist and professor of pharmaceutical sciences. He has over 40 years’s experience as a pharmacist and is an expert on the GUT and MICROBIOME. Note: Our conversation mainly focused on the use of antibiotics and how it affects your microbiome. His passion is in formulating products for optimal performance, such as DigestShield.
Most people know that when you take antibiotics it can kill off a lot of the good bacteria in your gut, as well as some of the bad bacteria. Note: The only place you want bacteria is in your gut, because there is such a thing as good protective bacteria! The bottom line is you want more good bacteria than bad bacteria in your gut.
Gut bacteria is so important to every facet of your life. In fact, you have way more DNA in your gut bacteria than you do in your own DNA. Up until the 1930’s, bacterial pneumonia was a leading cause of death. Because of the great inventions and discoveries of antibiotics, it’s now way down the list.
Antibiotics have prolonged life and health, no doubt, but they can also have adverse effects. For example, antibiotics can kill more of the good bacteria than the bad bacteria. Note: The bad bacteria are more resistant because of their structure. This is why we need to restore the good bacteria.
One of the key questions I had for Dr. Collins was whether or not you should take a probiotic while you’re on an antibiotic. Note: I’ve always told patients that if you’re on an antibiotic, make sure you’re also taking a probiotic. Most of my patients are already taking a probiotic, so it was really just a matter of staying on it.
Dr. Collins answered this question in a way that I hadn’t thought of before. He said to hold off on taking the probiotic while on the antibiotic, and when you’re done with the antibiotic double up on your probiotic for the same length of time you were on the antibiotic.
I started thinking about this, and it totally makes sense! If you’re taking a probiotic at the same time you’re on an antibiotic, they may interfere with each other. I’ve always told patients not to take it at the same time, but never to completely hold off on taking the probiotic.
What about if you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to gluten? Well, this is why it’s important to eat a clean diet while you’re on an antibiotic. Avoid foods you know you’re sensitive to. This will help your immune system fight the infection anyway.
For a lot of the chronic gut problems I see, I will run a GI Map that will actually map out your gut microbiome and also tell me a lot about the integrity of your gut lining (i.e., whether or not you have a “leaky gut”).
The goal of functional medicine is to find causes and cure them. The goal is not to just treat symptoms. In the United States we are over medicated. You hear a lot about the overuse of antibiotics, and I agree with it! Your bacteria can become resistant, it can upset your gut microbiome, or you can even be treating a virus.
Why You’re On So Many Medications
I actually think we’re over medicated in general. Like Dr. Collins said in our conversation, “If a patient is on five medications, one is almost always there to treat a side effect of one of the other four medicines.” I find this to be very true.
In my practice these days, I try to get patients off of the medications that they don’t need. One of the problems with seeing other doctors and specialists is that they will give you medication, and never tell you when to get off of it! Therefore, you end up on more and more and more!
One example of this is the use of PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) like Omeprazole and Nexium. There’s a whole host of these types of medicines! These medications were not made to be used for more than a couple of weeks, unless you have a serious condition ( i.e., Barrett’s Esophagus). PPIs are definitely overused. You need acid in your stomach. These medications cut all the acid out. Note: When you cut out all the acid in your stomach, your body won’t digest your food, nor absorb your vitamins and minerals properly.
A lot of times PPIs are just used to treat reflux. Often, instead of too much acid in the stomach, people don’t have enough. We test for that with simple (and cheap) methods like Betaine. I use Betaine to see if someone has too much acid or too little acid. Note: You can do this test on yourself.
The main ingredient in DigestShield is chitosan. It is naturally derived from the shell of shrimp and crabs, as well as from the cell wall of oyster mushrooms.
What if you’re allergic to shellfish? I get this question a lot. By the time chitosan is produced from any source, nothing remains from the original form. That means it cannot affect people who may be allergic to shellfish. The chitosan used in DigestShield is harvested from the cell wall of oyster mushrooms. It is the only version of this amazing substance found in any dietary supplement for digestion.
What does chitosan do? Ultra-low, molecular weight chitosan is uniquely suited to bind lectins in the gut before they bind to you. Lectins are found in 40% of the foods we eat and can cause digestive distress and autoimmune reactions. In addition to binding lectins, chitosan is also useful in binding with fats, lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides of blood and liver, and raising fecal total cholesterol and triglyceride.
Chitosan at ultra-low molecular weight (used in DigestShield) is antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. Chitosan can help to maintain proper microflora balance. It’s naturally prebiotic and feeds good bacteria in our gut. In short, chitosan binds lectins and fat and feeds the beneficial bacteria and probiotics in our gut.
Treat The Gut
I get so many positive reviews from my patients that take DigestShield. It’s simple, if your gut is not functioning properly, your overall health is at risk. A lot of times your gut can set off inflammation in your body and create autoimmune diseases, cause brain fog, and generalized inflammation.
You’re much better off if your gut is settled and working properly. A lot of times that’s hard to do! My advice for those with chronic GI problems is to get a GI MAP (a comprehensive stool analysis) so we can find the root cause of your gut problem, and not just treat the symptoms. It may save you a lot of grief down the road.
Hope this helps.
Till next week.