An Integrative Health approach to gastrointestinal (GI) care focuses on the whole person, building on what matters most to each individual and drawing in mindful awareness and self-care along with conventional and complementary approaches to health and well-being.  Whether it is exploring healthy eating patterns, looking at the research related to the connection between the gut and other organ systems, or helping a person with a specific GI diagnosis, Integrative Health can prove beneficial.

Empowerment through self-care is key.  The Circle of Health highlights eight areas of self-care:  Surroundings; Personal Development; Nutrition; Recharge; Family Friends, & Co-Workers; Spirit & Soul; Mind and Emotions; and Physical Activity.  Using an example of an Integrative Health patient, this overview and related tools offer an array of options to consider.

More details for specific conditions, including GERDirritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are available in various digestive health clinical tools.

General Overview: key elements of healthy digestion

  • Gastrointestinal Ecology
    • The Gastrointestinal (GI) environment is in a dynamic balance influenced by exposure to bacteria, nutrition, emotions, and medications.
  • Intestinal Permeability
    • The integrity of the barrier between the gut and immune system can influence systemic illness and symptoms.
    • Key nutrients, positive emotions, and healthy bacteria can improve the integrity of this vital barrier.
  • Adequate Acidity
    • Prolonged acid suppression can result in a decrease in protease activation that may reduce the digestibility of food proteins.
    • Acid is necessary to absorb key nutrients required for a healthy GI ecosystem.
  • Establishing the Microbiome
    • Bacteria that populate the GI ecosystem are necessary for optimal GI and immune function.
    • Facilitating an optimal GI ecosystem can result in healthy bacterial growth.
    • Fiber promotes mucus and nutrients that the bacteria need to grow, allowing them to metabolize shortchain fatty acids that help maintain the health of the GI tract.

Please see the downloads section for more detailed clinician and patient information.

Disclaimer: This information is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use it in the best way possible to promote your health.