What is The Role of Nutrition in Digestive Health?
The digestive system is responsible for digesting, absorbing and metabolizing nutrients and energy from the foods that we consume and distributing them to the rest of the human body systems. Poor health of the digestive system can lead to complications in other systems of the body, impacting things like immune function, cognitive function, skeletal strength and function, as well as many indirect impacts such as changes in mood and stress levels. The foods we eat and the amount of nutrients we acquire directly impact the state of the digestive system, therefore nutrition and the diet are the most impactful, controllable factors affecting the health of the digestive system.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in the identification and treatment of digestive issues such as:
- Constipation and Complications
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gastritis/Duodenitis and Ulcers
- Celiac Disease/Gluten-Intolerances
- Diverticular Disease
- Colon Cancer
How Registered Dietitians (RDs) Make an Impact in Digestive Health Care Outcomes
The goal of nutrition intervention in digestive health care is to improve overall digestion, prevent future digestive condition diagnoses and to treat or manage current acute and chronic diseases of the digestive system, as well as improving overall quality of life for the patient.
Registered Dietitians work with clients, caregivers and other health care professionals in addressing health-related issues in a collaborative way. RD’s utilize many methods in order to determine the most effective changes to make, to help patients understand their diagnosis and to work towards improving their condition and achieving their digestive health goals.
- Nutrition Education: RD’s can contribute to the digestive health care team by providing patients with information on how their food choices impact the health of their digestive system. This is imperative when it comes to certain digestive disorders, such as Celiac Disease and IBS, where proper food choices are necessary for treatment and healing. Consulting a dietitian can also help patients who are adapting to new diagnoses and learning how to live a new lifestyle.
- Collaborative Patient-Specific Consultations: Goal setting is an important component of the treatment process. Goals provide a measurable point of progress that ensures patient treatment is staying on course. Goals can be created through a collaborative process between the patient, RD and the rest of the medical team to make sure that all of the patients’ needs are being met, including medical, nutritional and lifestyle factors. Digestive health goals may include consuming more prebiotics and probiotics to promote gut health, noticeable decreases in symptoms resulting from changes in diet or consuming a higher fluid intake, however, the goals must be created specific to the patient.
- Coaching & Support: Making changes to one’s lifestyle is not always an easy process, especially when they involve something like the diet that stays fairly consistent throughout one’s life. Any lifestyle change requires support and encouragement from not only the patient’s family and peers, but also from medical professionals in order to be able to overcome the barriers that one may face. These barriers may include a lack of nutrition education, emotional eating, intolerances/allergies, motivation, other health issues, etc. Registered Dietitians can provide informative support, such as handouts and specific food and meal recommendations, in addition to their counselling, as well as provide referrals to other support groups within the community that may benefit the patient. RD’s can help with meal prepping and planning, in addition to teaching patients about supplements, healthy grocery shopping methods and eating out tendencies, for example.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: There are various tools and programs that dietitians utilize during both diagnosis and treatment phases of practice. Diagnostic tools are used for an easy and accurate diagnosis. They generally include common symptoms of the digestive condition, other commonly associated conditions and other characteristics of typical patients, such as environmental exposures or genetic endowment. RD’s also utilize dietary assessment tools such as food frequency questionnaires and diet records to determine if there are any foods in the patient’s current diet which may be triggering the symptoms. RD’s can collaborate with other medical professionals to monitor progress through blood work and their medical findings to determine if the patient’s current digestive health care goals are appropriate and adjust or create new goals if necessary.
Summary of Various Digestive Issues & Conditions and RD Role:
|Condition||NutriProCan Dietary Approach||Data to Include
|Celiac Disease /Gluten-Intolerances||
|Constipation and Complications||
|Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)||
|Gastritis/ Duodenitis and Ulcers||
|Pre and Post Surgery
(bariatric, cardiac or otherwise
Request an appointment: https://www.nutriprocan.ca/request-appointment/
Download IBS Management Program Overview: https://www.nutriprocan.ca/IBS-Management-Program/
Refer a patient: https://www.nutriprocan.ca/referral-form/Referral-Form.pdf
About NutriProCan Registered Dietitians
An RD is a regulated and licensed health care professional that is university trained in the field of food and nutrition, combined with supervised practical experience.
They are experts in translating scientific, medical and nutrition information into practical terms that is easy to understand and implement by our clients.
Our RDs have an extensive background in the application of food science combined with behavioural coaching to drive lifelong change towards a healthy approach to food.