Digestive problems are common
Digestive problems can affect any part of the digestive system. Our digestive system is made up of our digestive tract plus all the additional organs that play a role in breaking down the food we eat. It helps us to absorb what we need, and to eliminate what we don’t. It is also home to the ‘good’ bacteria that aid the digestive process and support immune function.
A healthy and functioning digestive system is vital for our wellbeing, and for making use of the nutrients we put into our body. Even the most nutritious of diets are not so great if the body cannot absorb them.
To address digestive problems properly, we need to pay attention to how we are eating and how we are living. For some of us, eating certain types of food, or suddenly introducing foods that we’re not used to, can cause problems with digestion. For others, eating at the wrong times, or during times of acute stress, can cause problems too.
Digestive problems commonly experienced:
- Bloating / gas
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation / diarrhoea
Newly presenting symptoms should always be investigated by your GP in the first instance. But sometimes, no identifiable cause is found, even after investigation. Nonspecific digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can be immensely debilitating. Quality of life can be severely impacted due to bloating (affecting choice of clothing), diarrhoea (reducing confidence in leaving the house), and pain (impacting on ability to undertake activties of daily living).
How does functional medicine help with digestive problems?
If you suffer from any of the following, nutritional and lifestyle interventions (in conjunction with any necessary ongoing medical treatment) can make an important difference to your day to day health and wellbeing:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Food intolerances
- Coeliac disease / gluten sensitivity
- Inflammatory bowel disease (alongside medical management)
Functional medicine for digestive problems
Step 1: Understand the root cause
In addition to discussing your current symptoms and concerns, I will take a detailed medical and lifestyle history that incorporates a full analysis of your diet, exercise, stress exposure and sleep quality, as well as interpretation of any previous test results. You will also be asked to complete a three-day food diary.
I will use this to create a timeline of your health concerns to date, mapping these to any significant life events that you may have encountered so far.
Step 2: Undertake further testing
If necessary, I may recommend further testing in order to better understand the cause of your current symptoms. This is likely to include comprehensive stool testing (including microbiome analysis) +/- breath testing.
Step 3: Create a personalised wellness plan
I will use the information we have gathered during our initial session, combined with any further results, to design a bespoke functional medicine programme for you. The aim will be to address your current symptoms as well as optimising your long-term health and wellbeing going forward.