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Gastro Intestinal Health

Back Clinic Gastro Intestinal Health Functional Medicine Team. The gastrointestinal or (GI) tract does more than digest food. It contributes to various body systems and functions. Dr. Jimenez takes a look at procedures that have been created to help support the GI tract’s health and function, as well as promote microbial balance. Research shows that 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have stomach or intestinal problems that are so severe that it interferes with their daily activities and lifestyle.

Intestinal or digestion problems are referred to as Gastrointestinal (or GI) Disorders. The goal is to achieve digestive wellness. When an optimally working digestive system is on track, an individual is said to be in good health. The GI tract protects the body by detoxifying various toxins and participating in the immunological processes or when the body’s immune system interacts with antibodies and antigens. This combined with supporting the digestion and absorption of nutrients from an individual’s diet.

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: What You Need to Know

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: What You Need to Know

Individuals with digestive problems that cannot be diagnosed could be experiencing functional gastrointestinal disorders. Could understanding the types help in developing effective treatment plans?

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: What You Need to Know

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, or FGDs, are disorders of the digestive system in which the presence of structural or tissue abnormality cannot explain symptoms. Functional gastrointestinal disorders lack identifiable biomarkers and are diagnosed based on symptoms. (Christopher J. Black, et al., 2020)

Rome Criteria

FGDs used diagnoses of exclusion, meaning that they could only be diagnosed after organic/identifiable disease was ruled out. However, in 1988, a group of researchers and healthcare providers met to devise strict criteria for the diagnosis of the various types of FGDs. The criteria is known as the Rome Criteria. (Max J. Schmulson, Douglas A. Drossman. 2017)


A comprehensive list as described by the Rome III criteria (Ami D. Sperber et al., 2021)

Functional Esophageal Disorders

  • Functional heartburn
  • Functional chest pain believed to be of esophageal origin
  • Functional dysphagia
  • Globus

Functional Gastroduodenal Disorders

  • Unspecified excessive belching
  • Functional dyspepsia – includes postprandial distress syndrome and epigastric pain syndrome.
  • Chronic idiopathic nausea
  • Aerophagia
  • Functional vomiting
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Rumination syndrome in adults

Functional Bowel Disorders

  • Irritable bowel syndrome – IBS
  • Functional constipation
  • Functional diarrhea
  • Unspecified functional bowel disorder

Functional Abdominal Pain Syndrome

  • Functional abdominal pain – FAP

Functional Gallbladder and Sphincter of Oddi Disorders

  • Functional gallbladder disorder
  • Functional biliary Sphincter of Oddi disorder
  • Functional pancreatic Sphincter of Oddi disorder

Functional Anorectal Disorders

  • Functional fecal incontinence
  • Functional Anorectal Pain – includes chronic proctalgia, Levator ani syndrome, unspecified functional anorectal pain, and proctalgia fugax.
  • Functional Defecation Disorders – include dyssynergic defecation and inadequate defecatory propulsion.

Childhood Functional GI Disorders

Infant/Toddler (Jeffrey S. Hyams et al., 2016)

  • Infant colic
  • Functional constipation
  • Functional diarrhea
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Infant regurgitation
  • Infant rumination syndrome
  • Infant dyschezia

Childhood Functional GI Disorders:


  • Vomiting and Aerophagia – cyclic vomiting syndrome, adolescent rumination syndrome, and aerophagia
  • Abdominal Pain-Related Functional GI Disorders include:
  1. functional dyspepsia
  2. IBS
  3. Abdominal migraine
  4. Childhood functional abdominal pain
  5. Childhood functional abdominal pain syndrome
  • Constipation – functional constipation
  • Incontinence – nonretentive fecal incontinence


Although the Rome criteria allow the diagnosis of FGDs to be symptom-based, a healthcare provider may still run standard diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases or look for structural problems resulting in symptoms.


Although no visible signs of disease or structural problems may be identified as causing the symptoms, it does not mean that they are not treatable and manageable. For individuals who suspect they may have or have been diagnosed with a functional gastrointestinal disorder, it will be essential to work with a healthcare provider on a working treatment plan. Treatment options can include: (Asma Fikree, Peter Byrne. 2021)

  • Physical therapy
  • Nutritional and dietary adjustments
  • Stress management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Biofeedback

Eating Right To Feel Better


Black, C. J., Drossman, D. A., Talley, N. J., Ruddy, J., & Ford, A. C. (2020). Functional gastrointestinal disorders: advances in understanding and management. Lancet (London, England), 396(10263), 1664–1674.

Schmulson, M. J., & Drossman, D. A. (2017). What Is New in Rome IV. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 23(2), 151–163.

Sperber, A. D., Bangdiwala, S. I., Drossman, D. A., Ghoshal, U. C., Simren, M., Tack, J., Whitehead, W. E., Dumitrascu, D. L., Fang, X., Fukudo, S., Kellow, J., Okeke, E., Quigley, E. M. M., Schmulson, M., Whorwell, P., Archampong, T., Adibi, P., Andresen, V., Benninga, M. A., Bonaz, B., … Palsson, O. S. (2021). Worldwide Prevalence and Burden of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Results of Rome Foundation Global Study. Gastroenterology, 160(1), 99–114.e3.

Hyams, J. S., Di Lorenzo, C., Saps, M., Shulman, R. J., Staiano, A., & van Tilburg, M. (2016). Functional Disorders: Children and Adolescents. Gastroenterology, S0016-5085(16)00181-5. Advance online publication.

Fikree, A., & Byrne, P. (2021). Management of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Clinical medicine (London, England), 21(1), 44–52.

Recommended Nutrition For Constipation

Recommended Nutrition For Constipation

The digestive system breaks down the foods eaten so the body can absorb the nutrients. During digestion, the unnecessary parts of these foods are turned into waste/stool, which is evacuated during a bowel movement. When the digestive system stops functioning properly due to factors such as diet change, eating unhealthy foods, lack of physical activity/exercise, medications, and certain health conditions, can cause constipation. Constipation occurs when the body cannot have a regular bowel movement. The distention, gas, bloating and not being able to have a bowel movement cause irritability and stress, which can worsen constipation. Incorporating recommended nutrition can help restore regular bowel movements and gut function.

Recommended Nutrition For Constipation

Recommended Nutrition For Constipation

Symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and difficult bowel movements are common. Diet and proper hydration have a significant role in digestive health, especially in relieving and preventing constipation. High-fiber foods, prebiotics, and adequate hydration from foods and beverages are essential for healthy bowel movements.

  • Fiber is found in whole grains, starches, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Soluble and insoluble fiber are important for digestive health.
  • Focusing on incorporating high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Foods rich in prebiotics like fermented foods are recommended when constipated.

The recommended nutrition for constipation, according to a dietitian includes.


  • Avocados can be paired with just about anything and are full of nutrients and fiber.
  • One avocado contains around 13.5 grams of fiber.
  • One avocado will provide almost half daily fiber needs.
  • Other high-fiber fruits: pomegranates, guava, raspberries, blackberries, and passionfruit.


  • Figs can be eaten fresh and dried.
  • Figs are considered a laxative and have been shown to treat and reduce constipation.
  • They contain antioxidants, polyphenols, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins.
  • Other fruits similar to a fig: dried apricots, prunes, and plums.


  • Plums, prunes dried plums are packed with fiber and prebiotics that have a natural laxative effect.
  • Sorbitol – a sugar found in plums and prunes, acts as an osmotic laxative that retains water.
  • The added H2O makes the stools softer and easier to pass.
  • Natural fruit juices, like pear, apple, or prune are often prescribed for constipation.
  • Other fruits that aid in bowel movements: peaches, pears, and apples.


  • Fermented foods like kefir are rich in beneficial bacteria that work to maintain digestive system health.
  • It can be consumed on its own or used in smoothies, cooking, and baking recipes.
  • Other fermented foods: kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh.

Oat Bran

  • Oat bran is oatmeal that has not had the bran removed.
  • The bran contains beneficial nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Oat bran contains soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as beta-glucan/non-starchy polysaccharides.
  • All improve the composition of gut bacteria and promote healthy bowel movements.
  • Other beneficial grains: oatmeal, wheat bran, rye, and barley.

Incorporating Gut-Beneficial Foods

How to incorporate recommended nutrition gut-beneficial foods into a regular menu:


  • Use kefir or yogurt as a base then balance it out with fiber-rich fruits like mango, blueberries, and kiwi.


  • Diversify snacks with a plate of fiber and prebiotics.
  • Nuts, cheese, crackers, fruit, and a yogurt or avocado dip.


  • Try oat bran to increase fiber.
  • Sprinkle a serving of flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds for added fiber and healthy fats.


  • Yogurt parfaits can maximize nutrients, flavor, and textures in a bowl.
  • Layer up on a favorite yogurt with granola, nuts, fruit, and seeds.

Grain Bowl

  • Fiber found in whole grains and seeds like barley, farro, and quinoa, helps promote healthy digestion.
  • Make a bowl with a grain base, then top with a protein, fresh or grilled veggies, avocado, and dressing.

Talk with a registered nutritionist or other healthcare provider to discuss recommended nutrition plan options.

Balancing Body and Metabolism


Arce, Daisy A et al. “Evaluation of constipation.” American family physician vol. 65,11 (2002): 2283-90.

Bharucha, Adil E. “Constipation.” Best practice & research. Clinical gastroenterology vol. 21,4 (2007): 709-31. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2007.07.001

Gray, James R. “What is chronic constipation? Definition and diagnosis.” Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology = Journal Canadien de Gastroenterology vol. 25 Suppl B, Suppl B (2011): 7B-10B.

Jani, Bhairvi, and Elizabeth Marsicano. “Constipation: Evaluation and Management.” Missouri medicine vol. 115,3 (2018): 236-240.

Naseer, Maliha, et al. “Therapeutic Effects of Prebiotics on Constipation: A Schematic Review.” Current clinical pharmacology vol. 15,3 (2020): 207-215. doi:10.2174/1574884715666200212125035

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms and Causes of Constipation.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Your Digestive System and How It Works.

Sinclair, Marybetts. “The use of abdominal massage to treat chronic constipation.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies vol. 15,4 (2011): 436-45. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.07.007

Understanding The Metabolic Connection & Chronic Diseases (Part 2)

Understanding The Metabolic Connection & Chronic Diseases (Part 2)


Dr. Jimenez, D.C., presents how chronic metabolic connections like inflammation and insulin resistance are causing a chain reaction in the body in this 2-part series. Many factors often play a role in our health and wellness. In today’s presentation, we will continue on how these chronic metabolic diseases affect the vital organs and organ systems. It can lead to overlapping risk factors associated with pain-like symptoms in the muscles, joints, and vital organs. Part 1 examined how overlapping risk profiles like insulin resistance and inflammation affect the body and cause muscle and joints pain-like symptoms. We mention our patients to certified medical providers that provide available therapy treatments for individuals suffering from chronic conditions associated with metabolic connections. We encourage each patient when it is appropriate by referring them to associated medical providers based on their diagnosis or needs. We understand and accept that education is a marvelous way when asking our providers’ crucial questions at the patient’s request and acknowledgment. Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., uses this information as an educational service. Disclaimer


How The Liver Associated With Metabolic Diseases

So we can look to the liver to find earlier cues of cardiovascular risk. How can we do that? Well, let’s understand some liver biochemistry. So in a healthy liver cell hepatocyte, when you have increased insulin being secreted because there was a meal that required glucose to be absorbed, what you expect if the insulin receptor works is that the glucose would go in. Then the glucose would get oxidized and turned into energy. But here’s the problem. When the hepatocyte has insulin receptors that don’t work, you’ve got that insulin on the outside, and the glucose never made it in. But what also happens on the inside of the hepatocyte is it was assumed that the glucose was going to get in. So what it does is it turns off fatty acid oxidation, thinking, “Guys, we don’t need to burn our fatty acids. We’ve got some glucose coming in.”


So when the glucose is not there, and you’re not burning off fatty acids, very common for people to feel fatigued because nothing is burning for energy. But here is the secondary sequela; where are all those fatty acids going, right? Well, the liver may try to repackage them as triglycerides. Sometimes, they stay in the hepatocyte or get shifted out of the liver into the bloodstream as VLDL or very low-density lipoprotein. You might see it as a high triglyceride shift in a standard lipid panel. So, when all of us are talking about getting a triglyceride level to around 70 as your 8+ goal, when I start seeing triglycerides rising, we wait until they’re 150, even though that’s the cutoff for our labs. When we see it at 150, we know they are shunting triglycerides out of the liver.


So that will happen many times before we find impaired fasting glucose. So look at your triglycerides, fasting triglycerides, as an emerging or early biomarker of insulin dysfunction. So this is another diagram that says that if the triglycerides are being created because the fatty acids are being oxidized, they can stay in the liver. Then that makes steatosis or the fatty liver, or they can be pushed out, and they turn into lipoproteins. We’re going to talk about that in just a second. The body is like, “What are we going to do with these fatty acids?” We can’t try to shove them into places because nobody wants them. To that point, the liver is like, “I don’t want them, but I will keep some with me.” Or the liver would have these fatty acids transported and stuck to the blood vessel walls.


And then the blood vessels and arteries are like, “Well, I don’t want them; I’ll put them underneath my endothelium.” And so that’s how you get atherogenesis. The muscles are like, “I don’t want them, but I’ll take some.” That’s how you get the fatty streaks in your muscles. So when the liver is getting bogged down with steatosis, inflammation occurs in the body and produces this feed-forward cycle inside the hepatocyte, damaging the liver. You’re getting cellular death; you’re getting fibrosis, which is just an extension of what happens when we don’t address the core issues for fatty liver: inflammation and insulin resistance. So, we look for subtle rises in AST, ALT, and GGT; remember that it is a liver-based enzyme.


Hormone Enzymes & Inflammation

GGT enzymes in the liver are smoke detectors and tell us how much oxidative stress is going on. Will we look at HSCRP and APOB to see the output of this liver? Is it starting to dump excess fatty acids through VLDL, APOB, or triglycerides? And how it picks that is just genetics, honestly. So I look for liver markers to tell me what’s going on in the liver as a sign of what’s happening everywhere. Because that might be the genetic weak spot of the person, some people are genetically vulnerable just in terms of their lipid profiles. To that point, we can look for something called metabolic dyslipidemia. You know this as high triglycerides and low HDL. You can specifically look for a ratio; an optimal balance is three and lower. It starts going from three to five and then five to eight, like eight is almost pathognomonic of insulin resistance. You’re just reaching becoming more and more insulin resistant.


As the number increases for that trig over HDL ratio, that is a simple, easy way to screen for insulin resistance. Now some people look 3.0 on this but still have insulin resistance. So there are other tests you do. This is a way to find those who show insulin resistance through lipids. And remember, everybody is different. Women with PCOS could have amazing lipids but could express an increase or decrease of hormones associated with insulin, estrogen, and inflammation. So look for something other than one test or ratio to indicate whether they’ve got it. You’re looking to see what could be the place where we will find the clue.


So let’s use the word healthy. A healthy person has VLDL that looks to be a healthy normal size in their bodies, and they have normal LDL and HDL. But now look at what happens when you get insulin resistance. These VLDL ls start to pump up with triglycerides. That’s why they’re fattening up. It’s lipotoxicity. So if you start looking at the VLDL three numbers in a lipoprotein profile, you’ll see that that number is creeping up, and there are more of them, and their size is bigger. Now with LDL, what happens is that the cholesterol amount within the top and the bottom is the same. If I pop all these water balloons, it’s the same amount of LDL cholesterol. However, that amount of LDL cholesterol in insulin resistance is repackaged in small dense LDL.


How Does Functional Medicine Play Its Part?

Now we understand that there may be some of you who cannot or do not have access to this testing, or your patients cannot afford it, and that’s why we answered the questions and looked for other clues of insulin resistance and treat the root cause that is affecting the body. Look for signs of inflammation and other overlapping profiles of insulin resistance. The particle number is higher when they’re insulin resistance. So cholesterol is the same, whereas the particle number is more elevated, and small dense LDL is more atherogenic. Treat it because whether or not you have access to knowing the LDL particle, there should be something in your head that says, “Man, even though this person’s LDL cholesterol looks good, they have tons of inflammation and insulin resistance; I can’t be sure that they don’t have higher particle number.” You might assume that they do this just to be safe.


The other thing that happens in insulin resistance is that the HDL or the healthy cholesterol tends to become small. So that’s not very good because the efflux capacity of HDL is lessened when it’s smaller. So we like the larger HDL, if you will. Access to these tests would give you a solid indication of what’s going on with your patient from a cardiometabolic perspective.


When it comes to these tests, it is important to utilize them to determine the patient’s timeline when they have inflammation or insulin resistance in their bodies, affecting their quality of life. However, many people would often express that these tests are expensive and would go with the gold standard of testing for affordability and be able to decide if it is worth it to better their health and wellness.


Look For Cardiometabolic Risk Patterns

So when it comes to cardiometabolic risk factor patterns, we look at the insulin aspect and how it correlates with mitochondrial dysfunction associated with insulin resistance and inflammation. A research article mentions how two mitochondrial dysfunctions can affect the body. Okay, let’s talk about the first issue, which is the quantity issue. One could be endotoxins that we encounter in our environment, or two; it can be genetically passed along from generation to generation. So the two types could indicate that you don’t have enough mitochondria. So that’s a quantity issue. The other problem is it’s a quality issue. You got plenty of them; they don’t work well, so they don’t have high output or at least normal results. Now how does this play out in the body? So out in the periphery, your muscles, adipocytes, and liver, you have mitochondria in those cells, and it’s their job to energize that lock and jiggle. So if your mitochondria are in the right number, you’ve got plenty to energize the insulin cascade lock and jiggle.


Interesting, right? So here it is in summary, if you don’t have enough mitochondria, which is the problem in the periphery, you get insulin resistance because the lock and jiggle aren’t working well. But if you do not have the mitochondria working well in the pancreas, especially in the beta cell, you don’t secrete insulin. So you still get hyperglycemia; you don’t have high insulin state. When this happens, we know your brain should be hurting, but hopefully, it will come together slowly.


Another article mentions that it connects mitochondrial dysfunction with type two diabetes, and poor maternal nutrition can prime it. This one talks about how fatty liver is associated with lipotoxicity, right? That’s that increased fatty acid, and oxidative stress, which, remember, is the byproduct of inflammation. ATP depletion and mitochondrial dysfunction. When this happens, it can affect the liver, which then turns into the fatty liver, and can also be associated with gut dysfunction, which leads to chronic inflammation, elevated insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, and many more. These chronic metabolic diseases are connected, and there are ways to reduce these symptoms from affecting the body.



When having a conversation with their doctors, many patients know that the same drivers affect a whole host of other phenotypes, all commonly rooted in inflammation, insulin, and toxicity. So when many people realize these factors are the root cause, doctors will work with many associated medical providers to develop personalized functional treatment plans. So remember, you always have to use the timeline and the matrix to kind of help you know where do you start with this patient, and for some people, it might be you’re just going to tweak a little bit of lifestyle because all they’re working on is changing their body count. So it’s one of the blessings of functional medicine that we were able to turn off the inflammation in the gut, which helps reduce the toxic impact burdening the liver. It also allows the individual to find out what works or doesn’t work with their bodies and take these small steps to improve their health.


We hope you have fresh eyes about inflammation, insulin, and toxicity and how it is at the root of so many conditions that your patients are facing. And how through very simple and effective lifestyle and nutraceutical interventions, you can change that signaling and change the course of their symptoms today and the risks they have tomorrow.



Understanding The Metabolic Connection & Chronic Diseases (Part 2)

The Metabolic Connections Between Chronic Diseases (Part 1)


Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents how metabolic connections are causing a chain reaction to major chronic diseases in this 2-part series. Many factors often play a role in our health and wellness. It can lead to overlapping risk factors associated with pain-like symptoms in the muscles, joints, and vital organs. Part 2 will continue the presentation on metabolic connections with major chronic diseases. We mention our patients to certified medical providers that provide available therapy treatments for individuals suffering from chronic conditions associated with metabolic connections. We encourage each patient when it is appropriate by referring them to associated medical providers based on their diagnosis or needs. We understand and accept that education is a marvelous way when asking our providers’ crucial questions at the patient’s request and acknowledgment. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., makes use of this information as an educational service. Disclaimer


How Inflammation Affects The Body

Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: So here you have a lean set of adipocytes on the left, and then as they start to plump up with more cellular weight, you can see those macrophages, the green boogies come around looking, saying, “Hey, what’s going on here? It doesn’t look right.” So they are investigating, and this causes local cell death; it’s just a part of the inflammatory cascade. So there is also another mechanism happening here. Those adipocytes are not just getting plumper by accident; it’s often related to a calorie surfette. So this nutrient overload damages the endoplasmic reticulum, leading to more inflammation. What these cells and the adipocytes are trying to do is protect themselves from glucose and lipo toxicity.


And the whole cell, the adipocyte cell, is creating these caps that are trying to say, “Please stop, we can’t take any more glucose, we can’t take any more lipids.” It’s a protection mechanism known as insulin resistance. It’s not just some random thing happening. It is the body’s way of trying to prevent glucose and lipotoxicity. Now that the inflammation alarm is occurring more than just in the adipocytes, it’s getting systemic. Other tissues and organs are starting to feel the same burden of the calorie surfette, causing inflammation and cell death. So glucose and lipotoxicity look like fatty liver when dealing with the liver. And you can also have it just like fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis with hepatocyte death. The same mechanism that’s happening in muscle cells. So our skeletal muscle cells specifically see cell death after inflammation and see fatty deposition.


The best way to think about it is, for example, the cows raised for food consumption and how they have marbled. So that’s the fatty deposition. And in humans, you can think about how people become sarcopenic as they become more and more insulin resistant. It’s the same phenomenon when body tissue tries to protect itself from glucolipotoxicity, causing a local inflammatory response. It becomes an endocrine response when it starts targeting other tissues in the periphery, whether the liver, muscle, bone, or brain; it’s just whatever is happening; they’re in the visceral adipocytes that can occur in other tissues. So that’s your paracrine effect. And then it can go viral, if you will.


Inflammation Associated With Insulin Resistance

Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: You’re getting this local and systemic pro-inflammatory response coupled with insulin resistance, returning to this protection mechanism against glucose and lipotoxicity. Here you see how the blood vessels in our arteries get caught in the loop of fatty deposition and cell death. So you’ll see leaky blood vessels and fatty deposits, and you’ll see damage and pro-atherogenesis. Now, this is something we explained in AFMCP for the cardiometabolic module. And that is the physiology behind the insulin receptor. This is known as the lock and jiggle technique. So you have to have insulin lock into the insulin receptor up at the top., which is known as the lock.


And then there’s a phosphorylation cascade called the jiggle that then creates this cascade that ultimately causes the glucose-4 channels to open up the glucose-4 receptors to go into the cell so that it can be then the glucose, which is then utilized for energy production by the mitochondria. Of course, insulin resistance is where that receptor isn’t sticky or as responsive. And so not only do you fail to get glucose into the cell for energy production, but you are also rendering a hyper insulin state in the periphery. So you get hyperinsulinemia as well as hyperglycemia in this mechanism. So what can we do about that? Well, many nutrients have been shown to improve the lock and jiggle things that can improve the glucose-4 transporters coming up towards the periphery.


Anti-Inflammatory Supplements Reduce Inflammation

Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: You see these listed here: vanadium, chromium, cinnamon alpha lipoic acid, biotin, and another relatively new player, berberine. Berberine is a botanical that can dampen all primary pro-inflammatory signals. So what precedes these comorbidities often and it’s insulin dysfunction. Well, what precedes insulin dysfunction many times? Inflammation or toxicity. So if berberine is helping the primary inflammation issue, it will address the downstream insulin resistance and all the comorbidities that can happen. So consider berberine as your option. So again, this shows you that if you can reduce inflammation up here at the top, you can minimize many cascade effects downstream. Berberine specifically seems to act in the microbiome layer. It modulates the gut microbiota. It may create some immune tolerance, therefore not rendering as much inflammation.


So consider berberine as one of the tools you can use to support insulin dysfunction and insulin resistance-related comorbidities. Berberine seems to increase insulin receptor expression, so the lock and jiggle work more effectively and improve the cascade with the glucose-4 transporters. That’s one mechanism by which you can start to find the root cause of many of the conditions we discussed when you see paracrine and endocrine glucose toxicity, lipotoxicity organ damage. Now another mechanism for you to consider is leveraging NF kappa B. So the goal is to keep NF kappa B grounded because as long as they don’t translocate, a host of inflammation signals do not get triggered.


So our goal is to keep NF kappa B grounded. How can we do that? Well, we can use NF kappa B inhibitors. So in this presentation of treatment options for any comorbidities related to insulin dysfunction, there are many ways to reduce these overlapping conditions affecting our bodies. So you can directly affect insulin resistance through anti-inflammatory supplements or indirectly help insulin resistance or insulin dysfunction by leveraging things against inflammation. Cause if you remember, insulin dysfunction is what then causes all those comorbidities. But what causes insulin dysfunction is generally inflammation or toxins. So our goal is to address pro-inflammatory things. Because if we can address pro-inflammatory things and nip the insulin dysfunction in the bud, we can prevent all the downstream organ damage or organ dysfunction.


Reducing Inflammation In The Body

Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: Let’s move on to the next section that you can leverage or reduce the inflammation and insulin soup damage if you will, that the genes bathe in the body. This is the one you’ll often hear in our presentation, and that’s because, actually, in functional medicine, we help fix the gut. That’s usually where you need to go. And this is the pathophysiology for why we do that in cardiometabolic medicine. So if you have that poor or sad diet, that modern western diet with bad fats, it will directly damage your microbiome. That change in the microbiome can render increased intestinal permeability. And now lipopolysaccharides can translocate or leak into the bloodstream. To that point, the immune system says, “Oh no way, buddy. You’re not supposed to be in here.” You’ve got these endotoxins in there, and now there is a local and systemic inflammatory response that inflammation will drive the insulin dysfunction, which will cause the metabolic disorders that come after that.


Whatever the person’s genetically prone to, it gets clicked on epigenetically. So remember, if you can quell the inflammation in the microbiome, meaning create this tolerant and strong microbiome, you can reduce the inflammatory tone of the entire body. And when you reduce that, it’s been shown that it sets the insulin sensitivity. So the lower the inflammation, the higher the insulin sensitivity related to the microbiome. So surprise, it’s been shown that probiotics are associated with improved insulin sensitivity. So the right probiotics will create immune tolerance. Microbiome strength and modulation occur with probiotics. And so insulin sensitivity is preserved or regained based on where you are. So please consider that as another indirect mechanism or treatment option for leveraging cardiometabolic health for patients.



Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: So when it comes to probiotics, we will use them in someone who might also concurrently have irritable bowel syndrome or food allergies. We might pick probiotics over NF kappa B inhibitors if they also have insulin resistance issues. But if they have many neurocognitive problems, we might start with the NF kappa B. So, that’s the way you can decide which ones to pick. Now, remember, when talking with patients, it is important to discuss how their eating habits are causing inflammation in their bodies. It is also important to note that it’s not just a quality conversation; it’s a quantity conversation and an immune conversation.


This reminds you that when you fix the gut by feeding it well and reducing its inflammatory tone, you get a host of other preventative benefits; you stop or at least reduce the strength of the dysfunction. And you can see that, ultimately can reduce the overlapping risk of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. We are trying to drive home that metabolic endotoxemia, or just managing the microbiome, is a powerful tool to help your insulin-resistant or cardiometabolic patients. So much data tells us that we cannot just make the conversation about eating right and exercising.


It’s so much beyond that. So the more we can improve the gut microbiota, we can change inflammation signals through proper diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, all the other things we’ve been talking about, and fixing the gums and the teeth. The less the inflammation, the less the insulin dysfunction and, therefore, the less all those downstream disease effects. So what we want to make sure you know is to go to the gut and make sure that the gut microbiome is happy and tolerant. It’s one of the most potent ways to influence a healthy cardiometabolic phenotype. And aside, although it was a bigger thing a decade ago, non-caloric artificial sweeteners do as they might be non-caloric. And so people may be tricked into thinking it’s zero sugar.


But here’s the problem. These artificial sweeteners can interfere with healthy microbiome compositions and induce more type two phenotypes. So, even though you think you’re getting the benefit with no calories, you’re going to increase your risk for diabetes more through its effect on the gut microbiome. All right, We’ve made it through objective one. Hopefully, you’ve learned that insulin, inflammation, adipokines, and all the other things that happen in the endocrine response affect many organs. So let’s now start to look at emerging risk markers. Okay, we’ve talked a bit about TMAO. Again, that’s still a relevant concept here with gut and insulin resistance. So we want to make sure that you look at TMAO not as the end all be all but as another emerging biomarker that could give you a clue about microbiome health in general.


Looking For The Inflammatory Markers

Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: We look at elevated TMAO to help the patient recognize that they have changed their eating habits. Most of the time, we help patients reduce unhealthy animal proteins and increase their plant-based nutrients. It’s generally how many doctors use it in standard medical practice. Alright, now another emerging biomarker, okay, and it sounds funny to call it emerging because it seems so obvious, and that is insulin. Our standard of care is centralized around glucose, fasting glucose, to our postprandial glucose A1C as a measure of glucose. We are glucose so centric and need insulin as an emerging biomarker if we try to be preventative and proactive.


And as you remember, we talked yesterday that fasting insulin in the bottom of the first quartile of your reference range for fasting insulin might be where you want to go. And for us in the US, that tends to be between five and seven as a unit. So notice that this is the pathophysiology of type two diabetes. So type two diabetes can happen from insulin resistance; it can also occur from mitochondrial problems. So pathophysiology of type two diabetes could be because your pancreas is not secreting enough insulin. So again, this is that little 20% that we talk about the majority of the people who are getting type two diabetes; it’s from insulin resistance, as we would suspect, from a hyper insulin problem. But there is this group of people who have damaged mitochondria, and they are not outputting insulin.


So their blood sugar rises, and they get type two diabetes. Okay, then the question is, if there is a problem with pancreatic beta cells, why is there a problem? Is the glucose going up because the muscles have insulin resistance, so they cannot capture and bring in glucose? So is it the liver that’s hepatic insulin resistant that cannot take in glucose for energy? Why is this glucose running around in the bloodstream? That’s what this is paraphrasing. So contributing role, you have to look at the adipocytes; you have to look for visceral adiposity. You must see if this person is just a big belly fat inflammatory-like catalyst. What can we do to reduce that? Is the inflammation coming from the microbiome?



Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., presents: Even the kidney can play a role in this, right? Like perhaps the kidney has increased glucose reabsorption. Why? Could it be because of an oxidative stress hit to the kidney, or could it be in the HPA axis, the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis where you’re getting this cortisol response and this sympathetic nervous system response that’s generating inflammation and driving the blood insulin and blood sugar disturbances? In Part 2, we will talk here about the liver. It’s a common player for many people, even if they don’t have fulminant fatty liver disease; it’s generally a subtle and common player for people with cardiometabolic dysfunction. So remember, we’ve got the visceral adiposity causing inflammation and insulin resistance with atherogenesis, and the liver is like this innocent bystander caught up in the drama. It’s happening before sometimes the atherogenesis starts.



The Digestive Process: Functional Medicine Back Clinic

The Digestive Process: Functional Medicine Back Clinic

The body needs food for fuel, energy, growth, and repair. The digestive process breaks down food into a form the body can absorb and use for fuel. The broken-down food gets absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine, and the nutrients are carried to the cells throughout the body. Understanding how the organs work together to digest food can help with health goals and overall health.The Digestive Process: Chiropractic Functional Medicine Clinic

The Digestive Process

The organs of the digestive system are the following:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Anus

The digestive process starts with the anticipation of eating, stimulating the glands in the mouth to produce saliva. The digestive system’s primary functions include:

  • Mixing food
  • Moving food through the digestive tract – peristalsis
  • The chemical breakdown of food into smaller absorbable components.

The digestive system converts food into its simplest forms, which include:

  • Glucose – sugars
  • Amino acids – protein
  • Fatty acids – fats

Proper digestion extracts nutrients from food and liquids to maintain health and function properly. Nutrients include:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

Mouth and Esophagus

  • The food is ground up by the teeth and moistened with saliva to swallow easily.
  • Saliva also has a special chemical enzyme that starts breaking down carbohydrates into sugars.
  • Muscular contractions of the esophagus massage the food into the stomach.


  • The food passes through a small muscle ring into the stomach.
  • It gets mixed with gastric chemicals.
  • The stomach churns the food to break it down further.
  • The food is then squeezed into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum.

Small Intestine

  • Once in the duodenum, the food mixes with more digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver.
  • The food passes into the lower parts of the small intestine, called the jejunum and the ileum.
  • Nutrients are absorbed from the ileum, lined with millions of villi or thread-like fingers that facilitate the absorption.
  • Each villus is connected to a mesh of capillaries, which is how nutrients get absorbed into the bloodstream.


  • The pancreas is one of the largest glands.
  • It secretes digestive juices and a hormone called insulin.
  • Insulin helps regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.
  • Problems with insulin production can lead to conditions like diabetes.


The liver has several different roles that include:

  • Breaks down fats using bile stored in the gallbladder.
  • Processes proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Filters and processes impurities, medications, and toxins.
  • Generates glucose for short-term energy from compounds like lactate and amino acids.

Large Intestine

  • A large reservoir of microbes and healthy bacteria live in the large intestine and play an important role in healthy digestion.
  • Once the nutrients have been absorbed, the waste is passed into the large intestine or bowel.
  • Water is removed, and the waste gets stored in the rectum.
  • It is then passed out of the body through the anus.

Digestive System Health

Ways to keep the digestive system and the digestive process healthy include:

Drink More Water

  • Water helps the food flow more easily through the digestive system.
  • Low amounts of water/dehydration are common causes of constipation.

Add More Fiber

  • Fiber is beneficial to digestion and helps with regular bowel movements.
  • Incorporate both soluble and insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water.
  • As soluble fiber dissolves, it creates a gel that can improve digestion.
  • Soluble fiber may reduce blood cholesterol and sugar.
  • It helps your body improve blood glucose control, which can aid in reducing your risk for diabetes.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.
  • Insoluble fiber attracts water into the stool, making it softer and easier to pass with less strain on the bowels.
  • Insoluble fiber can help promote bowel health and regularity and supports insulin sensitivity which can help reduce the risk of diabetes.

Balanced Nutrition

  • Eat fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Choose whole grains over processed grains.
  • Avoid processed foods in general.
  • Choose poultry and fish more than red meat and limit processed meats.
  • Cut down on sugar.

Eat Foods with Probiotics or Use Probiotic Supplements

  • Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help combat unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
  • They also generate healthy substances that nourish the gut.
  • Consume probiotics after taking antibiotics that often kill all the bacteria in the gut.

Eat Mindfully and Chew Food Slowly

  • Chewing food thoroughly helps to ensure the body has enough saliva for digestion.
  • Chewing food thoroughly also makes it easier for nutritional absorption.
  • Eating slowly gives the body time to digest thoroughly.
  • It also allows the body to send cues that it is full.

How The Digestive System Works


GREENGARD, H. “Digestive system.” Annual review of physiology vol. 9 (1947): 191-224. doi:10.1146/

Hoyle, T. “The digestive system: linking theory and practice.” British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing) vol. 6,22 (1997): 1285-91. doi:10.12968/bjon.1997.6.22.1285

Martinsen, Tom C et al. “The Phylogeny and Biological Function of Gastric Juice-Microbiological Consequences of Removing Gastric Acid.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 20,23 6031. 29 Nov. 2019, doi:10.3390/ijms20236031

Ramsay, Philip T, and Aaron Carr. “Gastric acid and digestive physiology.” The Surgical clinics of North America vol. 91,5 (2011): 977-82. doi:10.1016/j.suc.2011.06.010

Kombucha Fermented Tea Health Benefits: Back Clinic

Kombucha Fermented Tea Health Benefits: Back Clinic

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for nearly 2,000 years. It became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. It has the same health benefits as tea, is rich in probiotics, contains antioxidants, and can destroy harmful bacteria. Kombucha sales are growing at stores because of its health and energy benefits.

Kombucha Fermented Tea Health Benefits


It is typically made with black or green tea, sugar, healthy bacteria, and yeast. It is flavored by adding spices or fruits into the tea while it ferments. It is fermented for about a week, when gases, 0.5 percent of alcohol, beneficial bacteria, and acetic acid are produced. The fermentation process makes the tea slightly effervescent. It contains B vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotics, but the nutritional content will vary depending on the brand and its preparation.


The benefits include:

  • Improved digestion from the fact that fermentation makes probiotics.
  • Helps with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome/IBS.
  • Toxin removal
  • Increased energy
  • Improved immune system health
  • Weight loss
  • Helps with high blood pressure
  • Heart disease

Kombucha, made from green tea, includes the benefits of:


Beneficial bacteria are known as probiotics. These same probiotics are found in other fermented foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut. Probiotics help populate the gut with healthy bacteria that aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and produce essential vitamins B and K. The probiotics improve bowel movements and alleviate nausea, bloating, and indigestion.


The antioxidants and polyphenols benefits include:

  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Decreased risk of chronic diseases – cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Anti-Bacterial Properties

  • The fermentation process produces acetic acid that destroys harmful pathogens like invasive bacteria and yeasts, preventing infection.
  • The anti-bacterial effect also preserves the beneficial bacteria.

Liver Detoxification

  • It can help detoxify the liver, which:
  • Improves overall skin health
  • Improves liver function
  • Decreases abdominal bloating and pain
  • Improves digestion and bladder function

Pancreatic Support

  • It can improve pancreatic function, which can help protect the body from diseases and illnesses like:
  • Acid reflux
  • Abdominal spasms
  • Numbness
  • Pancreatic cancer

Joint Support

  • The tea contains compounds like glucosamines that have been shown to improve joint health and relieve joint pain.
  • Glucosamines increase hyaluronic acid, lubricating the joints, which helps protect and strengthen them.

Satisfy Soda Craving

  • The variety of flavors and natural carbonation can satisfy the craving for a soda or other unhealthy beverages.

Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic includes elements of integrative medicine and takes a different approach to health and wellness. Specialists take a comprehensive view of an individual’s health, recognizing the need for a personalized treatment plan to help identify what is needed to get healthy. The team will create a customized plan that fits an individual’s schedule and needs.

Dietitian Explains Kombucha


Cortesia, Claudia et al. “Acetic Acid, the active component of vinegar, is an effective tuberculocidal disinfectant.” mBio vol. 5,2 e00013-14. 25 Feb. 2014, doi:10.1128/mBio.00013-14

Costa, Mirian Aparecida de Campos et al. “Effect of kombucha intake on the gut microbiota and obesity-related comorbidities: A systematic review.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 1-16. 26 Oct. 2021, doi:10.1080/10408398.2021.1995321

Gaggìa, Francesca, et al. “Kombucha Beverage from Green, Black and Rooibos Teas: A Comparative Study Looking at Microbiology, Chemistry and Antioxidant Activity.” Nutrients vol. 11,1 1. 20 Dec. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu11010001

Kapp, Julie M, and Walton Sumner. “Kombucha: a systematic review of the empirical evidence of human health benefit.” Annals of epidemiology vol. 30 (2019): 66-70. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.11.001

Villarreal-Soto, Silvia Alejandra, et al. “Understanding Kombucha Tea Fermentation: A Review.” Journal of food science vol. 83,3 (2018): 580-588. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.14068

The Mechanics Of Toxic Metals In The Immune System

The Mechanics Of Toxic Metals In The Immune System


The immune system‘s role is to be the “protectors” of the body by attacking invaders that enter the body, cleaning up old cells, and making room for new cells to flourish in the body. The body needs the immune system to function and be healthy from many environmental triggers the body is exposed to daily. When environmental triggers come in contact with the body, it can cause many disruptive factors over time and causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy, normal cells as they see it as a foreign invader, thus causing the body to develop autoimmune diseases. Some environmental triggers like toxic metals could be associated with autoimmune diseases that can affect the body, causing various symptoms to affect the body. Today’s article looks at the effects of toxic metals on the body, how it affects the immune system, and ways to manage the impact of toxic metals on the immune system. We refer patients to certified providers specializing in autoimmune treatments to help many individuals with autoimmune diseases associated with toxic metals. We also guide our patients by referring to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer

The Effects of Toxic Metals On the Body


Have you been experiencing abdominal pain in your gut? Do you have a bitter metallic taste in your mouth? What about experiencing inflammation affecting not only your joints but your gut as well? Many of these symptoms are signs correlating that you might suffer from toxic metals in your body. The body is constantly exposed to various environmental factors that affect many individuals over time. It can be the foods consumed, the environment a person is exposed to, and their physical activity. Studies reveal that heavy metal pollutants from environmental pollution can enter the human body through various pathways like the respiratory, cutaneous, and gastrointestinal paths and begin to accumulate in different organs. When the body suffers from autoimmune diseases associated with toxic metals, symptoms of inflammation will start to affect the joints in the body. To that point, toxic metals will begin to facilitate their interaction with the immune system, causing the development of autoimmune disease symptoms.


How Does It Affect The Immune System

So how do toxic metals affect the immune system, thus causing symptoms associated with autoimmunity? As stated earlier, the immune system is the body’s protector and, when exposed to environmental disruptors over time, leads to the development of autoimmune diseases. For toxic metals, many people are usually exposed to low levels of metals through consuming fish and shellfish (containing low levels of mercury). However, when individuals are exposed to high levels of heavy metals, studies reveal that certain metals can seriously affect the immune system by overstimulating the different muscle tissues and soluble mediators that cause chronic-inflammatory reactions associated with heavy metals. Some of the symptoms associated with toxic metals causing autoimmunity in the body include:

  • Numbness
  • Prickly sensation down hands or feet
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness


Introduction The Immune System-Video

Have you been experiencing inflammation in your joints? How about feeling muscle weakness in your back, arms, legs, or neck? Or have you been feeling overall discomfort in your body? Many of these symptoms are signs of autoimmune diseases associated with toxic metals. The video above introduces the immune system and how it plays its role in the body. When the body gets exposed to environmental factors like heavy toxic metals, it can cause the development of autoimmune diseases associated with chronic issues like joint inflammation and muscle pain. Different heavy toxic metals can affect other body parts, as studies reveal that these different heavy toxic metals are systemic toxicants that induce adverse health effects on the body. When an individual has been exposed to high levels of heavy toxic metals, chronic issues like joint inflammation can progressively cause pain over time unless treated early on. Luckily, treatments are available to help manage the effects of toxic metals in the immune system associated with joint inflammation.

Managing The Effects Of Toxic Metals In The Immune System


Since the body is exposed to environmental factors constantly, if it is not treated right away, it can lead to autoimmunity associated with chronic symptoms like joint inflammation. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the effects of environmental factors, like lowering the impact of toxic metals on the body system. Studies reveal that incorporating essential minerals protects the DNA sequence from further oxidative damage in the body’s immune system. Other treatments like chiropractic care utilize spinal manipulation on spinal subluxation or spinal misalignment on the joints to reduce inflammation associated with toxic metal autoimmunity. Since there are many ways that autoimmunity can affect the body through environmental triggers, the symptoms associated with autoimmunity are treated through chiropractic care. Chiropractic care not only utilizes spinal manipulation but can help improve the immune system in the body by increasing lymphatic fluid circulation and loosening stiff muscles surrounding the joints. To that point, it allows the body to get rid of toxins and waste that is in the body. Incorporating treatments like chiropractic care can help restore the body to its functional state.



The immune system is the body’s protector from foreign invaders that enter the body. When there are environmental triggers that the body is being exposed to, it can put the body at risk of developing autoimmune disease associated with chronic symptoms like inflammation of the joints. Environmental triggers like heavy metals can be associated with joint inflammation and cause pain in the body. When this happens, the body experiences pain and dysfunction due to inflamed joints. Fortunately, chiropractic treatments utilize spinal manipulation on subluxation (spinal misalignment) to reduce joints’ inflammation and improve lymphatic system circulation. These treatments can help the body manage autoimmunity associated with heavy metals and their symptoms.



Ebrahimi, Maryam, et al. “Effects of Lead and Cadmium on the Immune System and Cancer Progression.” Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering, Springer International Publishing, 17 Feb. 2020,

Jan, Arif Tasleem, et al. “Heavy Metals and Human Health: Mechanistic Insight into Toxicity and Counter Defense System of Antioxidants.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 10 Dec. 2015,

Lehmann, Irina, et al. “Metal Ions Affecting the Immune System.” Metal Ions in Life Sciences, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011,

Tchounwou, Paul B, et al. “Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Environment.” Experientia Supplementum (2012), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012,