Celebrating 3 months of Bayside Specialist Suites
It’s been three months since Bayside Specialist Suites opened and what a fantastic first chapter we’ve had. Patients are loving the fact that they can access a range of services all in one building, including gastroenterology, psychology, paediatrics, cardiology, urology and respiratory and sleep physicians.
We are delighted to have three leading gastroenterologists from the Victorian Gastroenterology Group consulting at Bayside Specialist Suites. Dr Michael Swan’s specialty is interventional endoscopy; Dr Gauri Mishra specialises in all things liver-related; and Dr Lani Prideaux’s areas of interest are inflammatory bowel disease and gut bacteria.
This month we spoke to Dr Prideaux about her work.
For people who aren’t quite sure, what do gastroenterologists do?
We deal with any part of the gastro tract. We receive referrals from GPs for a variety of reasons, including:
- Blood in the bowels
- Altered bowel habits
- Low iron
- Liver function tests
- Problems with the pancreas
- Suspected Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Gastroscopy and colonoscopies
What’s your area of interest?
I studied my PhD in gut bacteria, which is very in at the moment. My PHD looked at sequencing the DNA of gut bacteria and comparing it to people who lived in Asia, but also Asians who had come to Australia. So, it covered the intersect between ethnicity and geography and how that affects the gut bacteria. It was really interesting.
I then went overseas to LA and worked in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) before returning to Australia.
Nowadays I work in both private and public practice. I run the young adults’ clinic at Monash Health, where paediatric patients are transitioning to adult care when they have IBD. We’ve just started a pregnancy service as well looking at women with these diseases and how it affects their pregnancy and what drugs they can take.
As a gastroenterologist, I see so much irritable bowel syndrome, iron deficiency and anaemia – all that general stuff – but the thing I love the most is talking about gut bacteria.
Why are you so fascinated by gut health?
Thousands of years ago Hippocrates said, ‘let food be thy medicine’ and that all diseases start in the gut. I couldn’t agree more.
I genuinely believe that all diseases start in the gut and our health is greatly influenced by our gut bacteria. There’s also so much research in terms of the mind-gut connection.
If someone asked me what the best thing you can do for your gut was, there’s no question that a plant-based diet with no processed foods is where it’s at. That’s way better than any medicine.
What about probiotics?
For someone to have a bad diet and take a probiotic, that’s a drop in the ocean. I’d much prefer they ate a lot of prebiotics, good whole grains and fruits and vegetables. That’s way better than a probiotic.
There’s also not a lot of evidence that taking probiotics actually works. In my opinion, probiotic supplements are a total money-maker. They’re not classified as a medicine, and the regulations on probiotics are very different from those on medicines.
What’s your approach to improving gut health?
My role is to make sure we’re not missing something sinister, but I also talk a lot about the gut bacteria and foods and health and mind as a more holistic way of doing things.
Sometimes I refer to gut-directed hypnotherapists (there’s some good evidence for that), bowel-directed hypnotherapists and gastrointestinal dieticians. I use a lot of other Allied Health in my practice as well.
What do you love about your job?
I love that I deal with chronic illness and chronic patients whom I’m not necessarily going to ‘fix’, but I’m going to manage into the long-term and get to know them really well.
I love that I deal with a lot of acute medicine as well. If someone comes in with a bleeding ulcer in the middle of the night, I get called and I can save a life.
I get to do procedures, which is like playing video games. I also do lots of stuff with new young doctors and medical students, as well as educating the public about issues such as liver disease.
For me, it’s all about soulful medicine. And what I love most is that every day I’m doing something different.
Like to make an appointment?
For a referral to one of the gastroenterologists at Bayside Specialist Suites, please book in with your GP at Bluff Road Medical Centre. Call (03) 9598 6244 or book online.
Alternatively, to make an appointment directly at Bayside Specialist Suites, call (03) 9599 8220.