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November 29, 2016

Nutrition and GI: Still Hand in Hand?

The connection between nutrition and gastroenterology should be intuitive given that gastroenterology involves the study of the organ system responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, for many individuals, nutrition is often an afterthought, being considered only after disease has negatively impacted their nutritional status.

It is unclear where the connection between nutrition and gastroenterology diverged. Over time, the field of GI has evolved into subspecialties while concomitantly the focus in GI training programs has shifted to endoscopic proficiency and acute care. There is a need for training in nutrition and nutrition-related issues because it lies at the core of gastrointestinal functioning and is very relevant to hepato-gastroenterology practice.

As many gastroenterologists find, nutrition is an integral component of my daily assessment of patients with gastrointestinal symptoms. A detailed history often reveals that symptoms may be provoked by ingesting certain foods and alleviated by avoiding certain foods. Similarly, weight loss is well recognized as an alarm symptom that signals discordance between energy intake and expenditure that may reflect organic disease of the alimentary tract. Furthermore, there are numerous examples of where diet and nutritional counseling are crucial to the management of the disease.

Celiac disease is an example of a disease for which diet is the cause of and treatment for the ailment. Similarly, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is affected by one’s diet. Furthermore, there are numerous examples of where diet and nutritional counseling are crucial to the management of the disease.

As you can see, nutrition and GI certainly do go hand in hand. It is essential that your physician have an understanding of the fundamentals of nutrition and the mutual influence that nutrition and GI disease have on one another. The gastroenterologists at InSite Digestive Health Care work side-by-side nutritionists each day to help those with nutrition related diseases.