Donna Peters column: Three-step plan for a healthy digestive system

To deal with Irritable Bowel Syndrome the first step is to find the root cause.
To deal with Irritable Bowel Syndrome the first step is to find the root cause.
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The health of our gut is paramount. If our digestive system isn’t working properly it can have a negative impact upon our overall health. Researchers are saying that keeping our gut healthly and restoring the integrity of the gut lining will be one of the most important factors in supporting our overall health in years to come.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive problem, but technically it is not a condition/disease. IBS is the name given to a collection of symptoms when your GP has ruled out all other possible conditions. The symptoms can appear at any age and can include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and excessive wind. In order to deal with IBS successfully the first step is to find its root cause.

There is often a perception that it is ‘just IBS’, which can be frustrating for the sufferer. If your GP diagnoses you with IBS you may be referred to a consultant, but even then it can be difficult to find the root cause. Medication is sometimes given to help manage the symptoms, but unless the root cause of the IBS is identified and addressed, it is likely to remain and the longer it goes untreated, the more damage it can do to your health.

I use a three-step plan with my IBS clients to identify the root cause of the problem and help restore optimal gut health.

1. Rule out any food intolerances – using a blood test or by keeping a food/symptom diary.

2. Check how well your digestive system is working – I use a range of ‘functional’ tests that show exactly how well your digestive system is working. The results can help to identify what could be causing your IBS, such as:

l Maldigestion

l Malabsorption

l Bacterial/fungal overgrowth

l Chronic dysbiosis (imbalance in gut bacteria)

l Parasite

l Low stomach acid

l Low pancreatic enzymes

l Low gallbladder function

3. Implement bespoke nutrition plan – Once we have completed steps one and two we can put together a nutrition plan to target your specific needs.

Firstly, we remove any stressors/foods that are irritating your gut and replace them with anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest.

Supplements, such as digestive enzymes, can be used if extra help is needed to support digestion. Next, we repopulate the gut with healthy microflora by eating foods that promote healthy bacteria. A good quality probiotic supplement and fermented foods are important here.

Finally, we include specific nutrients in our diet that will help repair the damage that has been done to the gut lining.

Every case is different, for some IBS may be triggered by food intolerance, for others it may be low stomach acid or a bacterial imbalance. Stress can also play a part. This is why each case needs a bespoke plan that is targeted to your individual needs.

Free consultation – I offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your specific needs, helping you decide whether nutritional therapy is right for you. Bookings can be made online via my website – www.donnapetersnutrition.co.uk