Gastrointestinal disease refers to conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract and impair the healthy digestion of the food you consume. The gastrointestinal tract is the passage in your body that runs from the mouth to the anus. Treatment for gastrointestinal disease varies based on the root cause of your disease and the symptoms you present. 

GI Track As many as 11% of Americans have gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. They can develop because of both functional and structural problems within the GI tract. Not only that, gastrointestinal diseases can impact the immune system, absorption of nutrients, and production of neurotransmitters. 

That means your ability to fight infections and cognitive health are tied to your gut health. When gut health is compromised your overall health, well-being, and vitality are too. Luckily, there are integrative treatments for gastrointestinal diseases that can help provide the healing you need. 

What is Gastrointestinal Disease? 

Gastrointestinal diseases are characterized as any problem affecting the gastrointestinal or digestive system. The gastrointestinal system involves many different organs, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The primary role of the gastrointestinal system is to break down food into nutrients to provide energy for the body. 

There are many different types of gastrointestinal diseases, all of which require specific treatments. 

Functional Gastrointestinal Diseases

Here are some of the functional gastrointestinal diseases that arise due to the function, or dysfunction, of the digestive system. 

Structural Gastrointestinal Diseases

Here are some of the structural gastrointestinal diseases. These occur due to a change or problem with the structure of the GI tract. They can occur anywhere along the digestive system. 

  • Hemorrhoids 
  • Diverticulosis 
  • Colitis 
  • Anal fissures 
  • Anal fistula 
  • Colon polyps 

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Disease 

While there are many different types of gastrointestinal diseases, there are general signs and symptoms common among them all. Common symptoms include: 

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Disease 

Causes of Gastrointestinal Disease

In order to choose the correct treatment for gastrointestinal disease, you need to understand the root cause first. 

When it comes to diagnosing these conditions, your practitioner will need your health history, lifestyle habits, and symptoms. These will help determine what further testing will help identify the issue. Several tests are used to diagnose a GI disease and they will look at things like blood, urine, and stool samples. 

In regards to the source of gastrointestinal disease, here are a few potential root causes. Bad Diet Causes-Gastrointestinal Disease

  • Low Fiber Diet – Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plants that cannot be digested. It is critical for digestive health. It helps your satiety and aids in the digestion of certain foods. Fibers are also food for the trillions of beneficial bacteria living inside your gut, also known as your gut microbiome.
  • StressStress affects more than just your mental health, your gut health also takes a hit. Studies show there is an established link between your GI tract and the brain. They are always in communication, and your gut actually has more neurons than the spinal cord. Stress is found to cause a range of digestive problems like inflammation, bloating, and changes in your gut microbiome. 
  • Lack of water – Water helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract. It softens stool and helps prevent constipation. It also helps your digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients faster and more effectively. 
  • Dairy – Milk and cheese can be loaded with fats and proteins that are difficult to digest. Consuming large amounts of dairy can cause bloating, gas, constipation, and abdominal cramps.
  • Lack of movement – An inactive lifestyle is not good for your overall health and your digestive health
  • Age – Unfortunately, age adds another predisposition for gastrointestinal disorders. As you age, digestive glands decrease in activity which affects gut motility and reflux and allows certain digestive conditions to develop. 
  • Genes – Some autoimmune gastrointestinal diseases have a genetic component. In most cases, they simply predispose you to the disease, which means factors in the environment are needed to trigger the disease. Examples include ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. 

Treatment for Gastrointestinal Disease treatment for gastrointestinal disease

There are a wide range of treatments for gastrointestinal disease. Conventional medicine treatments for GI diseases often include prescription medication to try and manage the symptoms of your disease. However, there is growing evidence that integrative medicine approaches can improve symptoms and affect physiology and disease course.

Some of the common integrative treatments for gastrointestinal disease include mind-body therapies, acupuncture, diet, probiotics, and dietary supplements and herbs.

The good news is some gastrointestinal diseases are curable. On the other hand, some such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS require lifelong management to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients. 

By using a science-based and patient-focused approach to treating each patient, integrated functional medicine physicians develop a therapeutic and healing relationship with each person. Rather than treating the symptoms of a condition, integrative GI treatment focuses on correcting the root cause of imbalance to improve your overall health. 

FAQs about Gastrointestinal Disease 

Due to the fact that gastrointestinal diseases are so varied, there are a lot of questions surrounding these conditions. Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the gastrointestinal disease.

Is gastrointestinal disease curable?

As mentioned before, some gastrointestinal diseases are curable. However, some are not like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS. However, with integrative treatment for gastrointestinal disease, you can return to a high quality of life and stop living beholden to your symptoms. 

How do you treat gastrointestinal diseases at home? Exercising Regularly

A few examples of integrative treatment for gastrointestinal disease include diet and lifestyle changes like increasing your fiber intake, adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet, exercising regularly, and reducing your stress levels. 

What are the signs of gastrointestinal disease?

While the signs of gastrointestinal disease vary, here are a few common symptoms that may alert you to something off with your gut: abdominal discomfort, weight loss, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and loss of appetite. 

What foods to avoid if you have gastrointestinal problems?

If you have a gastrointestinal disease one way to address the problem is by removing offending foods from your diet. Sometimes this could mean avoiding dairy or gluten. You should also avoid highly processed foods from your diet. 

If you’re interested in learning more about integrative treatment for gastrointestinal disease reach out to our team of integrative practitioners. Our goal is to help you overcome your health challenges and optimize your health.