Dietitian Blog | May 21 2024

Understanding gut health 

Right now, there are so many trends with gut health. It seems someone is always preaching a new gut health gospel. So where does the registered dietitian come in? Understanding some basics about gut health can help you engage knowledgeably and respond to the gut health trends we see today from an evidence-based perspective.  

Some popular approaches for treating gut health include addressing the gut microbiome, evaluating the gut-brain axis, and assessing for food sensitivities. In all these areas, research is continuing to emerge—that is the bottom line. Below, we’ve recapped what we do know about hot topics in gut health.  


Addressing the gut microbiome looks at gut flora at a particular point in time. It can be beneficial for people who have taken antibiotics for long stretches or a more acute history of negative GI symptoms. We know that the proportion of “good” to “bad” bacteria can have influences on health. We also understand some of the ways that we can alter the microbiome, for better or worse. Researchers are continuing to study the impact the microbiome can have on our health, immunity, weight, mood, and more.  

Gut-brain axis

The gut-brain axis is an exciting area of research with huge possible implications for mental health. Although evidence shows that a relationship exists, the exact mechanisms of that relationship and how they can be manipulated by diet are still being studied.  

Food sensitivities

 Food sensitivities certainly lean into the overall trend of personalized nutrition. Diets like the low FODMAP diet address gut health from a more temporary sensitivity perspective while food sensitivity testing can potentially help with long-term sensitivities. Dietitians should be educated on the at-home food sensitivity testing options and know the pros and cons. Some of these tests are more reputable than others, so educate yourself on the options and be ready to provide an informed answer if a patient asks you about them. 

The trend for the public to want to take care of their gut health is exciting. It leads people to seek professional help because it can be so overwhelming. As a professional, stay up-to-date and be knowledgeable enough about different approaches with gut health to be able to direct and guide your patient into what approach might be most beneficial for them. When it comes to gut health, being a dietitian is like being a detective. You try a few different things and see what works best for each patient and their specific gut.  

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About Courtney Lee

Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CLT, CFCS has a virtual private practice specializing in personalized nutrition and anti-inflammatory diets. She loves helping people use nutrition to change their lives and enjoys empowering other RDNs to do the same!

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