Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal disorders affects sixty to seventy million people in the United States. They vary from mild to severe in symptoms and prognosis.

Gastroesophageal Reflux disease (GERD)
Contents of stomach back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and chest pain. If severe, it can erode the lining of the esophagus, increasing cancer risk. A hiatel hernia is a common cause (where the upper part of the stomach pokes up into the esophagus). Treatment can include dietary changes, medication and in extreme cases, surgery.
    Dietary Treatment
      • Consume a bland diet, no caffeine, aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs.
      • Eat adequate protein and less fat.
      • Eat regular meals plus two to three snacks per day.
      • DO NOT lie down until two to three hours after eating.
      • If you are overweight: Lose weight and avoid tight clothing around the waist.

Ulcer Disease
Mostly caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ulcer disease erodes the lining of the stomach and the first part of the intestines. A dull, gnawing ache, along with bloat, nausea, heartburn, or/and reflux are typical symptoms. Treatment may include antiacids and medication to reduce acid secretion. A bland diet may be helpful when discomfort is present.
    Dietary Treatment
      • Avoid spicy foods, citrus and caffeine.
      • Eat small frequent meals.
      • Slowly increase fiber intake.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Causes are not well understood. Bacteria that trigger an abnormal immune response may be responsible. Symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nutrient loss. It can occur anywhere in gastrointestinal tract.
    Crohn’s Disease
    Crohn’s Disease is a lifelong IBD that can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s     causes poor absorption of many nutrients and weight loss. Flare-ups occur and can be     severe enough to require surgery.
    Ulcerative Colitis
    Ulcerative Colitis is inflammation of the walls of the large intestine. Nutrient loss and     bleeding may occur, and these symptoms can cause anemia. Treatment with     corticosteroids is recommended, although in the long term these can cause other medical     concerns such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension. If severe, you may need     surgical treatment.
    Dietary Treatment
      • Plan balanced meals in your tolerance range.
      • Reduce sodium intake and get adequate calcium carbonate when on corticosteroids.
      • Monitor weight, if you have lost pounds; increase consumption of calories.
      • Monitor eating if taking high levels of corticosteroids.

Diverticular Disease
Tiny pouches form in the wall of the colon and can become inflamed. If severe inflammation occurs, antibiotics, a clear liquid diet and brief hospitalization may be required.
    Dietary Treatment
      • Eat a high fiber diet.
      • Limit high fat foods.
      • Consume adequate fluids.
      • Exercise regularly.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
A syndrome that affects people of all ages, includes hormonal and neurological systems that control bowel function. Symptoms range from constipation, diarrhea, spasms, bloat, gas, and abdominal pain. Although food does not cause this syndrome, dietary management often alleviates symptoms. Medication such as anti-spasmodic, anti-diarrhea, and fiber supplements may be helpful. Dietary management may be helpful.
    Dietary Treatment
      • Eat a well balanced diet.
      • Eat fiber, but start slowly and increase over time.
      • Cooked vegetables and fruits may be more tolerable.
      • Avoid foods that produce bloat and gas formation in the bowel.

Need help?
Medical Nutrition Network can help you plan meals, even when you dine out. By eating balanced meals tailored to your condition, you will find it easier to control gastrointestinal symptoms and avoid long term complications.



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