Gastrointestinal diseases and Nutrition. Diet not only provides the nutrition necessary for energy and body growth and repair, but also affects and regulates several important functions of the body. The proportions of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in our diet control the type and amount of gastrointestinal hormones released into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate gastrointestinal motility, secretion and absorption, cell proliferation, appetite, and local immune defences . Furthermore, the gastrointestinal hormonal peptides/amines interact and integrate with the enteric, autonomic, and central nervous systems in the so-called gut–brain axis. Food intake also affects the intestinal microbiota, which is believed to play an important role in health and disease. This issue presents the latest research on the use of dietary management to treat gastrointestinal diseases and disorders, and discusses the possible mechanisms underlying its effects.
Gastrointestinal diseases and Nutrition
The role of diet in the pathophysiology of managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) dominates this issue. This is not only because a special issue of Nutrients was published recently that dealt with diet in inflammatory bowel disease, but also because diet plays an important role in both the pathophysiology and management of IBS. This issue contains one review, two communications, and seven original articles covering several important aspects of this field, and the reported data are novel, interesting, and of high clinical relevance.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is primarily responsible for acquiring and digesting food, absorbing nutrients and water, and expelling wastes from the body as feces. A proper diet and normally functioning GI tract are integral for the delivery of nutrients, prevention of nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, repair of damaged intestinal epithelium, restoration of normal luminal bacterial populations, promotion of normal GI motility, and maintenance of normal immune functions (eg, both tolerance and protection from pathogens). The amount of food, its form, the frequency of feeding, and the composition of diet each have important effects on GI function and may be used to help ameliorate signs of GI disease. Although both nutrients and nonnutritional components of a diet are important to GI health, they also may cause or influence the development of GI pathology (eg, antibiotic responsive diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, dietary intolerance, or sensitivity and/or allergy). The appropriate diet may have a profound effect on intestinal recovery and successful management of chronic or severe GI disease.