The gastrointestinal system is such an integral part of the human body. It is an extremely complex organ, responsible for:
- digestion – acidity, alkalinity, enzymes, bile
- an ecosystem of bacteria, viruses and yeasts living in harmony with us
- keeping these gut microorganisms from entering the body
- keeping pathogenic microorganisms under control
- detoxification and elimination
- immunity – 70% of your immune system is in your gut
- neurotransmitters – more neurotransmitters are produced in the gut than in the brain
Any imbalance in the above can lead to:
- abdominal discomfort, nausea or pain
- severe gastrointestinal disease (Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease)
- autoimmune conditions – coeliac disease
- mood disorders – anxiety, depression, OCD
- pathogenic bacteria, parasites or yeast overgrowth, that can cause you to feel unwell
It is a complex system, and when some part of the gut is not working, you don’t feel well. You may have a gut condition (e.g. reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease) that has been diagnosed clinically via medical procedures (e.g. gastroscopy, colonoscopy) or pathology testing (e.g. coeliac screening panel, parasitology, breath testing).
More likely you have a complex clinical history, that despite testing and being told that “essentially everything is normal” by your doctor, you still feel abdominal discomfort or pain daily. You may have restricted your diet, with limited success. It affects your work, mood, relationships, sleep and life in general. In this case you need a more comprehensive assessment which looks at all factors that may be affecting your gut and wellbeing.
A comprehensive gastrointestinal assessment includes:
- a comprehensive review of your gastrointestinal symptoms
- evaluation of your gastrointestinal function
- dietary assessment for possible nutritional deficiencies
- review of all past pathology and test results
- whether intolerances to specific foods are causing your discomfort
- referral for additional pathology testing if required
A very important component of this is to also have a comprehensive dietary assessment, as what we eat can have a profound effect on the ecosystem in your gut or contain substances that may be affecting your physical and mental wellbeing.