If you or a loved one suffer from a gastrointestinal (GI) issue, we can help alleviate your symptoms. At Nutrition Link Services, we offer medical nutrition therapy for a variety of GI conditions, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. We evaluate your food triggers and develop customized meal plans for optimal GI health. Learn more about common GI issues below and how our team of experienced dietitian nutritionists can help diminish them.
GI Nutrition Services
Dietitian Nutritionists that Help You Avoid Flare-Ups and Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies
Types of Gastrointestinal Disorders
Gastrointestinal disorders affect many individuals in the US and across the globe. A study published in BMC Gastroenterology in 2019 notes that an estimated 11% of the population in the US has a chronic digestive disease (1).
GI Disorders are often classified into two groups: Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and Structural Gastrointestinal Disorders, and we provide nutrition therapy for both types.
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Functional GI Disorders include those where the GI tract appears normal in imaging, but has some type of functional issue (2). Two of the most common types of functional GI disorders are constipation and IBS. Treatment of functional GI disorders involves reviewing an individual’s diet and lifestyle factors and addressing possible causes of the issue.
Constipation is a common complaint, and is typically attributable to several factors:
• Inadequate fiber in the diet
• Inadequate fluid
• Lack of movement/exercise
• Medication use
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS affects many individuals, and typically includes the following symptoms:
• Abdominal pain
• Bloating and excess gas
• Alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
Factors that may contribute to IBS include inadequate sleep, stress, hormonal imbalances and certain foods that are high in FODMAPS (fermentable, oligo, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) which are certain types of sugars and fibers that are not tolerated by some individuals. For individuals with IBS, foods that are high in FODMAPS can exacerbate GI distress, and so some may need to be avoided or limited in the diet. Not everyone with IBS is sensitive to all foods that are high in FODMAPS, and this is where working with a dietitian versed in IBS and FODMAPS can be helpful.
If you are experiencing IBS, then our registered dietitians can work with you to evaluate your triggers, and create a customized low-FODMAP meal plan that can help alleviate your symptoms.
A GI disorder does not have to mean suffering in silence, or a severely limited diet. With the right guidance, you can enjoy a healthy and varied diet.
Structural Gastrointestinal Disorders
Structural gastrointestinal disorders are conditions where the bowel appears with abnormalities and has functional issues. Some common functional GI disorders include: diverticulosis and diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease – which includes Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis – colon polyps and cancers. Some structural GI disorders require medical and or surgical intervention, and others can be managed with a combination of medication and dietary modifications.
Celiac disease is not technically a structural GI disorder; it is an immune disease in which the body damages the small intestine in response to the ingestion of gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease affects approximately 1 in 100 people across the world (5), and it can cause severe nutrient deficiencies if left undiagnosed. Treatment involves adhering to a strict gluten-free diet to avoid triggering the damaging immune response. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with celiac disease, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitian nutritionists to learn how to manage your diet and which foods and food products contain gluten so that you can safely avoid them.
Gastrointestinal disorders can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining on an individual.
However, working with a qualified professional and identifying factors that may be contributing to the issues can go a long way in alleviating symptoms.
Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis refers to the development of small pouches in the colon. These may not cause issues for many individuals – however they can become infected and inflamed if food matter becomes lodged in the pouches, a condition referred to as diverticulitis.
The management of diverticulosis involves eating a diet with adequate fiber to promote regular bowel movements, and avoiding particularly small particles that may have an increased risk of becoming lodged in diverticuli.* In the past, patients with diverticulosis were advised to avoid all seeds, nuts, popcorn and kernels; however, in more recent years, the recommendations have become more individualized and based on the patient’s tolerance of these foods. If you have diverticulosis, the registered dietitian nutritionists at Nutrition Link Services can help you identify potential triggers, and develop a customized eating plan that you are comfortable with that is based on your food preferences and tolerance level.
The management of diverticulitis, (when diverticuli become inflamed and infected) typically requires some medical intervention, medication, and a bland, low fiber and low residue diet to avoid further aggravation of the colon. Once the inflammation has subsided, a regular, higher fiber diet may be gradually reintroduced. Our registered dietitian nutritionists will develop a customized meal plan to help you address your symptoms and get you on the road to recovery.
Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the GI tract (from the mouth to the small intestine, large intestine and anus). It can occur at any age, but most commonly affects individuals between the ages of 20-30 (3) Treatment of Crohn’s Disease usually involves medication to reduce and suppress inflammation, and nutrition therapy to ensure adequate intake of macro and micronutrients, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and assess tolerance of various foods. During a flare up, soft and bland foods are typically better tolerated than high fiber and heavily spiced foods. We will help you identify your trigger foods and build meal plans to help you prevent and manage flare ups.
Ulcerative Colitis is also an inflammatory bowel disease but, unlike Crohn’s Disease, it affects only the large intestine or colon. As with Crohn’s, it can affect individuals at any age, but most often seems to affect those in their 30s (4). Treatment involves a combination of medication to suppress the inflammation and immune response, and nutrition therapy to assess food tolerance and prevent deficiencies. As with Crohn’s, during a flare up, a bland, low-fiber diet may be easier to tolerate, until inflammation has subsided.
If you have Ulcerative Colitis, our registered dietitian nutritionists can help you determine which foods to eat to avoid further aggravation of your GI tract during a flare up, and also help you maintain a well-balanced diet to prevent any nutrient deficiencies.
If you are suffering from a GI condition, our Registered Dietitians / Nutritionists can help you make modifications to alleviate your symptoms and fend off flare-ups.
Our Nutritionists Staff the Following New Jersey Locations:
Iselin (Middlesex County)
Princeton (Mercer County)
Berkeley Heights (Union County)
Hoboken (Hudson County)
Jersey City (Hudson County)
Paramus (Bergen County)
Redbank (Monmouth County)
Freehold (Monmouth County)
Brick (Ocean County)