Trust Your Gut: Gastrointestinal Barriers To Weight Management

Many Americans struggle with their weight, unable to find a diet and exercise plan that will keep them at a healthy weight. But while most are trying to reduce excess weight accumulated due to sedentary lifestyles, a tendency toward emotional eating, or high calorie but low nutrient diets that often result from poverty, there is another group of Americans struggling to keep weight on due to gastrointestinal issues that they may not even know they have.

If you haven’t been attentive to gastrointestinal issues through regular colonoscopies, you may be suffering from dangerous colon health problems like Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. Or you may be one of the 58 million Americans with irritable bowel syndrome, a painful and inconvenient condition affecting the colon. Any of these conditions can have a noticeable impact on your weight and overall health.

The Dangers Of Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition that causes parts of the intestine to push outside the intestinal wall due to increased pressure in the colon. The resulting pouches, then, often fill with waste and can become inflamed.

The initial symptoms of this inflammation may be mild, including things like bloating and constipation, and while uncomfortable these problems are generally manageable. However, severe inflammation can cause such severe nausea, vomiting, and even colon blockages that you can no longer absorb adequate nutrients. This is when diverticulitis begins to cause weight loss and even malnutrition.

The Crohn’s Conundrum

Crohn’s disease is often mistaken for milder issues like IBS in the early stages, but is a much more dangerous condition. An autoimmune disease, Crohn’s causes overall inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, people are primarily aware of the intestinal symptoms.

When the gastrointestinal system is under attack, Crohn’s can cause sufferers to lose weight, sometimes to a dangerous degree. In order to regain weight, people with Crohn’s often need to be on a prescribed diet and may also need to undergo steroid treatment. The steroids both treat the inflammation and include weight gain as a side effect. Though both doctors and patients prefer that weight gain result from the prescribed diet, steroid-related weight gain can be temporarily beneficial.

IBS Basics

Those with IBS may suffer from weight gain or weight loss, with both typically resulting from attempts to control intestinal flares. When patients eat only foods they consider “safe” such as simple carbohydrates or fatty foods, they are likely to gain weight. On the other hand, when the focus is on restricting intake to prevent flares, patients may lose weight. Furthermore, regardless of actual weight, the bloating IBS causes can make those with the condition feel and look heavier than they are.

Go With Your Gut

If you’re struggling with intestinal issues, even mild and common symptoms like bloating or constipation, see a doctor for advice. They can help determine if there is an underlying cause that needs to be treated and may also refer you to a nutritionist. Gastrointestinal issues can wreak havoc on your weight, but with help you can develop a healthy nutrition plan that will benefit more than your weight.