Freedom from Digestive Distress is written by Gary Gitnick, M.D., who attended medical school at the University of Chicago and was an intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He served his residency at the Mayo Clinic, and is currently Chief of Digestive Diseases at UCLA.
A Focus on Lifestyle Changes
In his book, Dr. Gitnick advocates using lifestyle changes to combat digestive disorders such as heartburn, gas, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The book begins by explaining the causes of digestive problems that can include smoking, poor nutrition, and psychological and social factors.
By taking the reader through several case studies, Dr. Gitnick illustrates important lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms. The case studies are intriguing, and truly give an insight into how digestive disease is much more than "something I ate." Instead, problems can be caused by a variety of factors that work together.
For instance, there is a type of hormone produced in the brain called a neurohormone. In people with IBS, this hormone has a negative effect on motility in the colon. Additionally, people with IBS have more sensitive colons that other people. This leads to the problems that people with IBS have with pain, as well as constipation and diarrhea.
Dr. Gitnick also maintains that diet has a significant effect on the symptoms of IBS. He outlines the types of foods that can work as triggers. Additionally, other factors to reduce symptoms, such as stress reduction, are discussed.
The heart of the book is the section "10 Principles Guaranteed to Get Your Gut Out of That Rut." These ten tips are outlined in detail, and examples are given. They range from "Keep a Journal" to "Build in Appropriate Rewards." Not just dietary changes, these are guidelines to changing your lifestyle, which is the most difficult part of managing a digestive disease.
Food Journals and Stress
Dr. Gitnick goes on to describe how to keep a food journal. By analyzing the food journal, he suggests creating a "food pyramid." Not the kind we're used to seeing, but a more personalized food pyramid outlining the foods that can trigger symptoms, and the foods that are safe to eat.
The fifth chapter of the book is called "Managing Life Outside Your Digestive System." This chapter gives practical advice about how to deal with the stress we all have in our lives. Again, Dr. Gitnick offers ten tips to handling situations, including whether or not to tell other people about medical conditions.
Overall, I found this book to be positive and informative. Throughout the book Dr. Gitnick uses examples from his medical practice to make his point clearer. This also serves a secondary purpose -- it shows that the guidance he offers his patients truly helps them.See the next page for an excerpt from the book.