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Gut Distress? 6 Common Digestive Disorders You May Have


Reviewed by Debra Bluestein, FNP-C of Forum Health Las Colinas


Are you experiencing digestive issues? You’re not alone. Each year, gut disorders affect more than 40 million people and account for millions of visits to the doctor’s office, according to the NIH. 


Poor gut health can manifest as a variety of symptoms, indicating an imbalance in the gut microbiome and compromised digestive function. Some common symptoms include everything from bloating, gas and abdominal pain to fatigue, skin issues, compromised immunity and mood disorders.  

Why Do I Have Gut Issues?

Gut disorders can stem from a variety of factors including poor diet, chronic stress, environmental toxins, medications, hormone imbalances, genetics, infections and lack of physical activity. 


If not properly addressed and treated, gut disorders can wreak havoc in your life, negatively impacting your immune system, hormones, metabolic health, mental well-being, longevity – and even put you at risk of developing a chronic disease. 

Top Six Most Common Gut Disorders

Learn about the 6 most common gut disorders and how using a holistic root cause approach with integrative and functional medicine can help overcome your symptoms. 


  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    IBS is a complex, chronic disorder affecting the large intestine (colon) characterized by symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, mucus in the stool, discomfort after eating, fatigue, and abdominal pain.


    Functional and integrative medicine views IBS as a manifestation of underlying imbalances in the gut microbiome, immune system, and nervous system. Triggers can vary widely from chronic stress and dietary factors to microbial dysbiosis.  


  1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the digestive tract. The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.


    • Crohn’s Disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine (colon). It is characterized by inflammation that extends through the layers of the intestinal wall and can be patchy, with areas of healthy tissue interspersed with inflamed areas. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. 


    • Ulcerative Colitis primarily affects the colon and rectum. It is characterized by continuous inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, urgency to have a bowel movement, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. 


  1. Leaky Gut Syndrome
    Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition characterized by a dysfunction in the intestinal barrier, which normally acts as a protective barrier between the inside of the intestines and the rest of the body.


    In leaky gut syndrome, the intestinal barrier becomes compromised, allowing substances such as toxins, undigested food particles, and bacteria to leak through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include persistent bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, joint pain, inflammation, acne, eczema, fatigue and brain fog.

    Leaky gut has been found to be a root cause for the development of various health conditions, including autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and metabolic disorders. 


  1. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
    SIBO occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, leading to symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and nutrient malabsorption. Normally, the small intestine has relatively fewer bacteria compared to the colon, but in SIBO, bacteria from the colon migrate into the small intestine and proliferate.  


  1. Acid Reflux and GERD
    Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are related conditions that involve the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation of the esophageal lining. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two:  

    • Acid Reflux refers to the occasional backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, which is a normal phenomenon that most people experience sometimes. It can occur from overeating, lying down after eating, or consuming certain trigger foods or beverages. Symptoms of acid reflux may include heartburn, regurgitation of sour liquid or food, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and a sensation of a lump in the throat. 


    • GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a chronic and more severe form of acid reflux characterized by frequent or persistent symptoms. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscular valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, becomes weak or relaxes inappropriately, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus regularly. GERD can lead to complications such as esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), esophageal ulcers, strictures (narrowing of the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (a precancerous condition), and an increased risk of esophageal cancer. 


  1. Adverse Food Reactions
    An adverse food reaction refers to any negative response or symptom that occurs after consuming a particular food or ingredient. Adverse food reactions can be classified into several categories, including food allergies, food intolerances, and food sensitivities.   

    • Food Allergy is an immune-mediated reaction triggered by a specific protein in a food. When the immune system mistakenly identifies the protein as harmful, it mounts an allergic response, leading to symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Symptoms of a food allergy may include hives, itching, swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. 


    • Food Intolerance refers to difficulty digesting certain foods or ingredients due to enzyme deficiencies, sensitivity to food additives, or other factors. Unlike food allergies, which involve the immune system, food intolerances do not trigger an immune response. Common food intolerances include lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance (celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity), and histamine intolerance (inability to metabolize histamine). Symptoms of food intolerance may include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, migraines, skin rashes, and fatigue. 


    • Food Sensitivity is a broad term used to describe adverse reactions to foods not classified as true allergies or intolerances. These reactions may involve immune system activation or other mechanisms. Food sensitivities are often more difficult to diagnose and may manifest as a wide range of symptoms, including digestive issues, skin problems, respiratory symptoms, joint pain, headaches, and fatigue. Some individuals may experience symptoms of food sensitivity without clear evidence of immune involvement. 


It’s important to differentiate between these types of adverse food reactions, as their underlying mechanisms and management strategies vary.  


Diagnosis of adverse food reactions may involve medical history, physical examination, elimination diets, food challenges, skin prick tests, blood tests (such as IgE or IgG testing), and other diagnostics as needed. Treatment typically involves avoiding trigger foods, dietary modifications, symptom management, and in some cases, allergen immunotherapy or other therapies. 

Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Life: How Functional and Integrative Medicine Can Restore Balance


Forum Health offers a comprehensive and personalized approach to understanding and treating gut disorders. By addressing underlying imbalances and focusing on holistic healing, these approaches aim to not only alleviate symptoms but to restore optimal digestive function and overall well-being. If you’re struggling with gut issues, our providers are here to help. 

Comprehensive Evaluation: Our expert providers conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle factors, diet, stress levels, and environmental exposures to understand the root causes of your gut disorder. 

Advanced Testing: We use diagnostics not often found in conventional medicine to help address all factors that may be contributing to your gut dysfunction. These may include assessment of the microbiome, nutritional deficiencies, and gastrointestinal effects testing to evaluate gut microbes and assess a select set of biomarkers, providing insight into the root causes of symptoms.   

Personalized Treatment Plan: Based on your unique needs and underlying imbalances, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan that may include:  


  • Detoxification: This can be beneficial for gut health by supporting the body’s natural processes of eliminating toxins, reducing inflammation, enhancing immunity, and promoting balance in the gut microbiome. Forum Health’s GDRx Detox Program helps bring your gut back into balance by removing toxin buildup, providing coaching and education; and including key nutraceuticals to accelerate the healing and recovery process. 


  • Dietary Modifications: Our providers emphasize the importance of a gut-friendly diet tailored to your needs. This may involve eliminating trigger foods such as gluten, dairy, and wheat products, emphasizing whole, nutrient-dense foods, and incorporating gut-healing foods such as bone broth, fermented foods, and prebiotic-rich foods.  


  • Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle factors such as sleep quality, physical activity, stress management and environmental toxin exposures can impact gut dysfunction symptoms. Our providers address these factors to help you make appropriate lifestyle modifications to support your gut health and overall well-being including mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and breathing techniques to reduce stress levels and improve gut health. 


  • Gut Microbiome Support: Imbalances in the gut microbiome are often implicated in gut dysfunction. We aim to restore balance to the gut microbiome, reduce inflammation, repair the gut lining and address nutrient deficiencies through targeted interventions. This may include supplements such as prebiotics, probiotics, antimicrobial herbs, magnesium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and glutamine. It can also include IV nutrient therapy, peptide therapy, hormone therapy for women, hormone therapy for men, and health coaching. 


Don’t wait to take care of your gut health. Digestive dysfunction impacts every area of your life and in ways you may not realize! It’s critical to seek help before your condition worsens or develops into something more serious. 

Ready to heal your gut?