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I could probably write a book on digestion, since the majority of my personal clients present with some digestive disturbance, even if they’ve come to address something else.

People may complain of IBS, nausea, constipation, loose bowels, bowels ‘swinging’ between loose and constipated, wind, trapped wind, indigestion, stomach cramps, lower gut aches and pains, stomach acid or other discomforts.  Sometimes the system just seems to have shut down.

In my experience, digestion is commonly the root cause of the other health problems people come along with.  This is because if your digestion is poor, you won’t be absorbing your nutrients properly.  And if you’re not absorbing your nutrients properly, you won’t be feeding your body systems – and they will eventually start to show the strain!

Stress ‘goes straight to the gut’, as the saying goes.  If on top of that you are making poor food choices (the wrong foods for you, excess processed/junk food, nutrient poor foods), your digestion doesn’t have a chance.

There is no single diet that supports good digestion for everyone, and I tailor my recommendations to the individual.  But there are foods which may increase flatulence, or make cramps more likely, foods which can soothe the digestion, and foods which might either clog you up or loosen you up!. It is always very individual. A nutritionist can help you to untangle all this to find the right diet for you.

It can sometimes be helpful to start by following the guidelines in my Initial Eating Plan for Smoother Digestion - click here for more information.

Some people choose to have tests to find out exactly what is wrong with their digestion, either through a stool test of digestive function or a food intolerance test (see Clinical Tests).  These can be particularly helpful with chronic or long-standing problems, including inflammatory bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease, gastritis or ulcers.

It’s especially important to be aware of the status of your digestion if you are suffering from chronic or lifelong constipation, any inflammatory (pain) condition, heart disease or any other chronic condition such as M.S. or C.F.S./M.E.

  See also separate briefings on:-
Food allergy/intolerance


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Sally Whitman of Blackberry Nutrition experienced nutrition consultant and nutritional therapist with a very busy clinic in Cheltenham, near Gloucester, Gloucestershire