The onset of gut symptoms is linked to diet by most people. However, symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, and pain are typical of a myriad of gut health conditions and should not be ignored.
Even if diet is suspected as the cause, it is important to keep your doctor in the loop about any change in bowel behaviour or symptoms.
Your doctor may order some investigative tests to rule out the presence of something more significant like coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or bowel cancer. These can include:
- Blood tests – to look for inflammatory markers
- Stool test – to look for parasites, infection, or the presence of blood
- Colonoscopy (scope into lower GI tract)
- Endoscopy (scope into upper GI tract, including the small intestine).
Gut microbiome tests are also widely available if you have spare cash and are curious about your gut microbe composition. They are not however, diagnostic. They don’t replace routine clinical testing by your doctor, and are not prescriptive when it comes to personalising diet at this stage.
Your dietitian may also suggest you visit your doctor if you see them first. It is important not to skip this test as it may just save your life. Once you have the all-clear, you can confidently work with your dietitian to look for dietary and lifestyle causes of your symptoms.
This process may lead to some simple adjustments to your diet, or lifestyle, including exercise, sleep, and stress management.
Alternatively, your dietitian may work through an investigative dietary protocol to settle symptoms in the first instance, identify culprit foods and then rebuild a personalised diet with as much diversity as possible to support robust gut health ongoing.