Your gut—and more specifically what you eat—is directly connected to your overall health, says Arik Alper, MD. A pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Alper specializes in feeding disorders and aerodigestive problems (combined airway and digestive problems).
“I don’t only treat the gut, but gut problems that are often connected to it. Gut microbes rule the world and are now linked to various medical conditions such as behavioral and liver problems,” explains Dr. Alper, who researches the topic. “I believe that there is a clear gut-brain axis and that your gut microbes affect various clinical conditions. Manipulation of the gut microbiome could be a great treatment to many medical problems, and the research in this field is promising.”
When meeting new patients, Dr. Alper says his first priority is to thank them for choosing him to be part of their team. “I promise to do my best to find out what's causing their problem and do anything possible to make them feel better,” he says. “In our Pediatric Aerodigestive Program, patients meet with me, a feeding therapist, nutritionist, pulmonologist and an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. We then meet to discuss each patient and come up with a plan. This holistic approach fits with my belief that a broad point of view is needed to solve a patient’s problem.”
Medical treatment, Dr. Alper says, is not the only option for feeding and aerodigestive disorders. “After discussing a diagnosis with a family, I usually discuss three to four treatment options, including diet changes, natural remedies, probiotics and medical treatment,” he says. “Often, simple diet modifications can solve the problem. I like to tailor treatment according to the family's personal lifestyle and beliefs.”
Dr. Alper is also an assistant professor of pediatric gastroenterology at Yale School of Medicine.