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Dr. Elena Ivanina is a passionate gastroenterologist who has dedicated her career to improving gut health and wellness. She firmly believes that current healthcare is inadequate and that a holistic approach to gut healing is necessary to address the root cause of gut conditions. Her focus on integrative medicine and natural cures for gut conditions led her to create gut love.
What inspired you to pursue gastroenterology as a specialty?
Great question- I became very passionate about gastroenterology for 3 reasons:
1. The microbiome. There is no other medical specialty that gets to focus on an organ as fascinating, complex, and involved in your whole body health as the microbiome.
2. Root cause evaluation. I was always interested in root cause evaluation and not just treating symptoms with a superficial western medicine approach. I realized that the most effective tool I can offer patients for gaining valuable insight into their root cause is endoscopy & colonoscopy. I wanted to be able to offer my patients the deepest dive and investigation into their symptoms that exists. For example, endoscopy with microbiome and mycobiome sampling does just that- a root cause AND a precision treatment protocol.
3. Food is medicine. More applicable to gastroenterology than any other medicine specialty. I love taking patients safely off prescription drugs and instead using natural protocols focusing on diet to heal and support the gut.
Fatty liver disease is a condition that plays into overall metabolic health yet remains under-diagnosed and under-treated in many cases. What recommendations do you have for people to screen for it, and how does diet factor into its management?
A staggering 25% of Americans have NAFLD- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is fat in the liver that is not due to alcohol and it is a true metabolic epidemic. I believe every single person should be screened for metabolic conditions including NAFLD as they are so prevalent and have such a negative effect on health. I order thorough testing on all my patients that includes parameters such as liver tests and fasting insulin. Don’t be fooled by your lab’s exaggerated normal liver enzyme values such as “ALT”- one type of liver enzyme that is very important. A true healthy normal ALT should be less than 33 for males and less than 25 for females. Some labs use a range up to 45 being normal. This misses a ton of patients and lets the inflammation and damage go unchecked for years, propagating disease. Be proactive about your health through better testing & interpretation!
How is SIBO best managed in the long-term for patients who have recurring symptoms?
Most people struggle with recurring SIBO because the right approach is not taken from the getgo. Comprehensive SIBO treatment includes a root cause evaluation, induction protocol and maintenance. If your physician don’t take the time to understand WHY SIBO happened and just gives you an antibiotic then chances are it will recur! But if you got SIBO because of dysmotility due to the autoimmune condition scleroderma and you address it then you will be much more successful in the long term. Many doctors also don’t counsel patients about the maintenance piece of the healing protocol which again just increases the chance of recurrence.
What advancements or research within the field of gastroenterology are you currently most excited about?
The microbiome, mycobiome and virome. We are just getting our feet wet when it comes to the understanding of these incredible live organs in our body that are actively producing substances that affect our entire body. Particularly, there is a lot more research and focus on SIFO- small intestinal fungal overgrowth and Candida in the gut as a pathogen similar to SIBO and also involved in conditions such as COVID. I treat a ton of Candida in my practice with a holistic approach incorporating diet, herbs, and antifungal medications when needed.
At The Lanby, we value hospitality as a key factor in optimizing health outcomes. In what way do you apply the tenets of hospitality to your approach to care?
The key is actually caring about patients. When you care, you pay attention to details, you communicate effectively, you make yourself available, treat everyone as a unique individual and not just a “medical record number”, and this all leads to better results. I offer patients evening appointments at 8:45pm as I know how difficult it can be to take time off work when you’ve already probably missed days of work due to health issues so we want to let patients know, “we hear you and are here for you”.
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