Living With IBS: 5 Ways to Manage Your Symptoms

Approximately 10 to 15% of people suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). That equates to about 70,000–100,000 people in the Nashville area alone. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, many patients with this disorder suffer for more than six years before their condition is diagnosed.

As anyone with IBS can attest, the abdominal pain and symptoms can be unpredictable and completely disruptive to daily life. If you suffer from IBS, please know that gastroenterology providers at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville are here to come alongside you and work with you to develop a comprehensive management plan that supports your overall health and wellbeing.

For those who are new to IBS and would like to know more about managing symptoms, view some of the following recommendations from our gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group…

5 Ways to Manage IBS Symptoms

While there is no cure or guaranteed “fix” for IBS, many patients find symptoms improve through the use of some of these strategies…

  1. Identify and eliminate trigger foods. Many patients find that their IBS symptoms flare up when certain trigger foods are introduced into their diet. At St. Thomas Medical Group, your gastroenterologist will work with you to identify those trigger foods so that you can eliminate them from your diet. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and raw fruit.
  2. Exercise routinely. Exercise has a number of health benefits, including the ability to help regulate stress, promote contractions in the intestines, and improve overall mood.
  3. Slowly increase fiber. Individuals with IBS who suffer from constipation may find their symptoms improve with a moderate increase of fiber. However, too much fiber can cause gas and cramping, so increase fiber intake slowly.
  4. Eat regularly. Regular meals at routine intervals can help reduce IBS symptoms. If constipated, eating larger fiber-based meals may improve regularity. For those experiencing diarrhea, eating smaller meals more frequently may help manage IBS symptoms.
  5. Develop good eating habits. It’s not just when and what you eat that matters. How you eat can also affect IBS. Drinking through a straw, for example, can cause you to swallow air, which may worsen IBS. Eating food on-the-go, overeating, chewing gum, and eating quickly can also worsen symptoms. Instead, eat slowly, regularly, and mindfully.

Gastroenterology in Nashville, TN | Schedule Now

Struggling with IBS or other issues of the digestive system? Find a gastroenterologist at St. Thomas Medical Group. Don’t delay in getting the care you need. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment online.

What Is the Keto Diet? Should I Try Keto?

So long, Atkins, there’s a new diet in town. And if it looks a little familiar, well… it is.

  1. Low in carbs.
  2. High in fat.
  3. Promotes weight loss.

The ketogenic diet (“keto” for short) has captured the country’s attention, and Nashville is no exception. Check out the following graph, which shows Google search interest in Nashville in keto (blue) compared to Atkins (red) since November 2016.

No doubt, you’ve heard of keto. But what exactly is it? And should you try it? Today on the St. Thomas Medical Group Blog, we’re going to take a closer look at that question. As always, please remember that this blog does not constitute medical or diet advice and is not a substitute for the specific recommendations provided by your doctor. As always, do not begin a new diet without first discussing risks and benefits with your physician.

About the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet emphasizes a high fat and low carbohydrate intake. The standard ketogenic diet, for example, typically follows these proportions:

  • 75% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carbs

A popular and well-researched variant is the high-protein ketogenic diet, which looks something like this:

  • 60% fat
  • 35% protein
  • 5% carbs

Other variations exist, yet they lack the the same degree of evidence-based research that these two diets have supporting them.

So, what’s the science behind the keto diet? In a typical diet, people consume carbohydrates for energy. These foods include bread, pasta, some fruits (like bananas), and starchy vegetables. The keto diet drastically limits carbohydrate intake, prioritizing fats instead. This puts the body in a state of ketosis, forcing it to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Additionally, fats turn into ketones in the liver, and ketones then supply energy to the brain.

Many people experience weight loss with the keto diet without having to count calories and limit portions to the same degree required by other diets. This is due, in part, to the fact that foods in the keto diet are often quite filling and satisfying. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why this diet has grown quickly in popularity!

Should I Try the Keto Diet?

If you’re interested in the keto diet, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to learn more about how diet and lifestyle changes can best serve your health goals. The keto diet can be a drastic change for many people, and patients are not advised to begin this diet without first discussing it with their healthcare provider. With that being said, some studies have shown that the keto diet may be effective in improving the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • …and others

Generally speaking, the keto diet is not recommended for high-performance athletes or those wishing to gain significant weight or muscle mass. Also, it’s worth stating that the keto diet, like many diets, does require a serious long-term commitment in order for results to be seen.

Keto Diet Questions? Talk to a Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.

Have more questions about the keto diet and whether it’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with a physician at St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults, conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Meet our providers online, or call +1 (615) 297-2700 to schedule.

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Let’s be honest… few people relish in taking a trip to the doctor. It’s okay, we don’t take it personally. But since you’re coming… why not make the most of it? Whether you’re coming in for your first wellness exam in a few years or returning for a follow-up appointment just a week since your last visit, these tips will help you make the most of your visit. After all, your time is valuable, and you deserve the best care you can get. Plus, who knows… your next visit to the doctor’s office might be just a little bit more enjoyable if you maximize your time by using these recommendations from St. Thomas Medical Group doctors!

  • Prepare questions in advance. Do you ever sit in the waiting room with that burning question about your health… and then as soon as you get in the examination room it just slips your mind? Happens all the time! Make your appointment the most effective it can be by writing down your questions in advance. Use a sheet of paper, a notes app on your phone, or whatever it takes. Numerous studies have found that patients who prepare and take an active participation role in their healthcare are more satisfied, less anxious, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
  • Bring something to write on. Of course, asking the question doesn’t guarantee you’ll remember the answer, so be sure to bring something to write on. Again, your phone or a pad of paper can work. The best tool is the one that’s easiest for you to use.
  • Bring a friend or family member. Having a friend or family member with you is another great way to absorb the information your doctor shares during your appointment. Sometimes we hear information about our own health through our own subjective lens. A third-party might bring clearer perspective to the information received.
  • Be open about symptoms. As doctors, we’ve heard it all. There’s never any reason to be embarrassed about symptoms. If it hurts, tell us. If it seems kind of weird, tell us. If you’re just not sure… tell us! By sharing the whole picture, you provide us with a better opportunity to more fully serve you.
  • Have a list of medications. Speaking of total picture, we need to know what medications you’re currently using. Be sure to bring this full list with you to your next appointment at St. Thomas Medical Group!

Schedule With a Doctor in Nashville Today

Need a local doctor who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Find a Nashville doctor in one of the following specialties at St. Thomas Medical Group:

  • Audiologists
  • Aviation Medical Examiner
  • Children and Adult
  • ENT and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology

To schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.

The Opioid Crisis in Tennessee: Safety Guidelines & Resources

The opioid crisis has reached a point that is impossible to ignore. Opioid abuse has skyrocketed in Tennessee, destroying lives and posing a serious health threat to communities in Nashville and surrounding areas. In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Fast Facts About Opioid Abuse In Tennessee

While numbers can never tell the full story, these statistics shine an unforgiving light on the tragedy that has begun to unfold in Tennessee over the last decade…

  • Tennessee had the 2nd highest prescription rate for opioids in 2016 (source).
  • That same year, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee – 18.1 deaths per 100,000 persons. For comparison, the national rate for 2016 was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons (source).
  • Deaths from heroin overdose in Tennessee have increased since 2010 from 17 to 260 (source).

Our Commitment at St. Thomas Medical Group

Doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are committed to safe opioid prescription practices. This includes:

  • Showing preference to nonpharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy prior to prescribing opioids.
  • Establishing clear treatment goals prior to prescribing opioids. Prescriptions should only continue if the improvements in pain and function outweigh the risks to the patient’s safety.
  • Clearly discussing with patients the risks and benefits of opioid therapy v. non-opioid therapy.

Learn more about safe guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain with this resource from the CDC.

Get Help for Opioid Abuse

If you or someone you know struggles with opioid abuse, help is available. At least three Tennesseans die each day from an opioid-related overdose, reports the Tennessee Hospital Association. Even more visit their local hospital emergency room for care. If you need help, call the Tennessee REDLINE at +1 (800) 889-9789. This resource operates “a 24/7 addiction treatment and recovery hotline that connects Tennessee residents with state funded, addiction treatment and recovery services.”

If you need help, we also encourage you to talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to find out what resources may be available to you. If nothing else, remember the following (via Tennessee Department of Health):

  • Opioids are highly addictive.
  • Abuse, addiction and overdose can happen to anyone.
  • There are pain management alternatives.
  • Just because a doctor prescribed you opioids, it does not mean that they are 100% safe.
  • Opioids are not ideal for long-term pain relief.
  • Never take prescription drugs that were not prescribed for you by a doctor.

Additional Department of Health resources available here.

Need Help? Find a Nashville Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.
For additional help, call St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 297-2700
or schedule your appointment online.

What’s Your Heart Health IQ?

Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Today, let’s test your head knowledge about your heart! Take the knowledge you learn in this post and apply it to better heart health for the rest of the year to come…

#1 – Fast Facts About Tennessee Heart Health

Heart disease is a national health problem, and Tennessee is no exception. According to the Tennessee Department of Health:

  • “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, accounting for approximately 27% of deaths…”
  • “Stroke is the third leading cause of death…”
  • “Together, heart disease and stroke account for 1 out of 3 deaths in Tennessee each year.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Tennessee had the sixth highest heart disease death rate among all states in 2017. The good news is, many cases of heart disease can be prevented. It starts by knowing your risk factors.

#2 – Heart Disease Risk Factors

While some risk factors may be hereditary, others are within your control. Let’s look at a few heart disease risk factors that your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group may help you manage:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure can increase risk for heart disease and stroke by putting excessive pressure on the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure may be managed through diet and exercise. Medication may also be an option.
  • Smoking: Once inhaled, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause clots to form in the blood, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • High LDL Cholesterol: High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries, blocking healthy blood flow. Reducing saturated fats, eliminating trans fats, and increasing fiber intake can help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Excess sugar in the bloodstream can damage blood vessels and nerves. By preventing or managing diabetes, you may be able to lower your risk for heart disease.

#3 – Action Items: Own Your Heart Health!

What can you do to improve your overall heart health?

  • Stay active. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week – that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about quitting.
  • Lose weight. One recent study found that overweight or obese adults between the ages of 40 and 59 were at a 21 to 85 percent higher risk for developing heart disease than adults of the same age in a normal weight range.
  • Eat healthy. Sodium, trans fats, saturated fats, and sugar all increase risk for heart disease. Cut these unhealthy ingredients and replace them with whole foods, such as heart healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • See your doctor. Your doctor can make specific recommendations based on your personal health history. Your doctor would be thrilled to hear you say, “I want to make changes to reduce my risk for heart disease. Where do I start?” In many cases, patients are reactive to new developments in their health. Be proactive and start making positive heart health changes today – before any warning signs appear.

Find a Doctor Near You In Nashville

Need a doctor who will partner with you in your health? Find a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. Both new and returning patients can also schedule online.

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