Health Starts in The Gut

Going in with the gut, I’m led to deduce that health begins exactly there.

The gut and other parts of the gastrointestinal system make up the basic conduit of nutrition.(1) Food eaten is broken down by the system into simpler substances, nutrients are absorbed and transported to cells, and then are metabolized for creation of new body substances or for energy. (1p58)

Clinical Applications of Digestion, Metabolism and Absorption

Clinical application begins with the knowledge of how the process of digestion works. A nutritionist can then begin applying solutions.(1p67) To help a patient limit burping, a nutritionist can suggest he or she avoid nervously gulping down carbonated beverages through a straw.(1p67) To limit flatulence in a patient, the nutritionist can recommend he or she limit fiber and slowly reintroduce it in the diet or take a lactase supplement before consuming milk.(1p67)

Nutritionists can use diet therapy to also encourage absorption and metabolism of nutrients. An example is inclusion of non-digestible oligosaccharides to the diet. Understanding how these nutrients affect growth of intestinal flora helps a nutritionist encourage proper mineral absorption such as calcium in a patient.(2, 3, 4)

Clinical Applications of Energy Balance

Energy balance is a chief factor when nutritionists consider diet therapy. The food the body digests is partly converted to energy through cell metabolism.(1p74) Nutritionists should know how foods affect energy via each kilocalorie present.(1p75) For proper health, the body must have a sufficient amount of kilocalories from food for fuel and function, but not so much daily that would lead to gain of too much weight.(1p75, 81)

The amount of kilocalories for proper energy balance requires evaluation of daily energy requirements. Nutritionists would consider the body’s uses of energy, namely resting metabolic rate, physical activity and thermic effect of food.(1p81) A calculation of total energy output can then determine how many calories a patient should receive.(1p81)

Basing clinical diet therapy on energy balance as well as digestion, absorption and metabolism, the patient is adequately served and sure to receive best results.


1. Nix, Staci, Williams’ Basic Nutrition &Diet Therapy, 12th edition, Elsvier Mosby, 2001; 57-86.

2. Kolida, S & Gibson. Prebiotic capacity of inulin-type fructans. In: Inulin and oligofructose: Health benefits and claims-A critical review. J of Nutrition. November 2007; 137 (suppl):11S.

3. Scholz-Ahrens, KE & Schrezenmeir, J. Inulin and oligofructose and mineral metabolism: The evidence from animal trials. In: Inulin and oligofructose: Health benefits and claims-A critical review. J of Nutrition. November 2007; 137 (suppl):11S.

4. Abrams, SA, Griffin, J, and Hawthorne, KM. Young adolescents who respond to an inulin-type fructan substantially increase total absorbed calcium and daily calcium accretion to the skeleton. In: Inulin and oligofructose: Health benefits and claims-A critical review. J of Nutrition. November 2007; 137 (suppl):11S.


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