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When Doctors Drop the Ball

If a medical condition is largely driven or mitigated by diet and nutrition, why don't doctors refer patients to nutritionists for help? Here's what happens when doctors drop the ball.

 

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
January 21, 2014
Episode #268

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How Does Fiber Affect IBS?

I recently did an episode on the FODMAP diet, a new therapeutic diet that is proving to be extremely successful in treating symptoms of IBS. As I explained in that episode, the diet involves avoiding certain types of insoluble fibers -- including wheat bran.  Where does this leave poor Felicity? Hoping that the IBS medication takes care of any problems caused by the high fiber diet, I guess. 

The Problem with Acid-Blockers 

And, finally, there's the issue of Felicity having "too much stomach acid." As I explained in my episode on Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), the problem with reflux is isn't having too much stomach acid but having stomach acid in the wrong place -- that is, outside the stomach. Although acid-blocking medications can help with symptoms, they don't address the actual problem. (In fact, they may make it worse.)  Suppressing stomach acid can also impair your ability to digest food before it leaves the stomach, which can exacerbate IBS symptoms. Long-term reliance on acid-blocking meds also increases your risk of food borne infection and weakened bones. 

 See also: 5 Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux

 

If ever there were a time to call in a nutrition professional, this would be it.  Unfortunately, Felicity's doctor dropped the ball.

What to Do If Your Doctor Drops the Ball

Obviously, a situation of this complexity calls for more than the "quick and dirty tips" that I offer in this podcast.  For Felicity and anyone else that might be in a similar situation, I strongly urge you to seek support from a qualified nutrition professional, who can work with your medical doctor to customize a dietary prescription based on your individual concerns -- and then work with you to translate that prescription into foods and meals that you can enjoy, and to adjust your program as needed.  

See also: Reliable Sources of Nutritional Information

Finally, although I think they are often overused, I don't mean to suggest that drugs have no legitimate role in the treatment of digestive disease. Prescription medications may well be an important part of your treatment plan.  But take the time to read all the information that accompanies your prescriptions or to research them online. If you have any concerns or questions about what a drugs is for or how you're supposed to take it, don't be shy about calling your doctor back for clarification. If your doctor doesn't have the time or staff to address your questions and concerns, it's time to find a new doctor!

Keep in Touch

Post your comments, questions, and or topic suggestions below, or join the conversation on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page. I always love to hear from you! And don't forget to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter for more nutrition tips, recipes, and answers to your questions.

Have a great week and eat something good for me!

Doctor and patient, doctor with pills, and stomach acid images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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