It is estimated that some sort of digestive problem affects at least 100 million Americans. Digestive problems can refer to a number of illnesses such as; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease.
What puts my digestive health at risk?
- Eating trigger foods (dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, beans, cabbage, and other foods that produce gas)
- High cholesterol
- Lack of fiber in diet
- Not drinking enough water
- Gluten (celiac disease)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Lack of exercise
Digestive health is maintaining and taking care of your internal digestive organs, which include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus. As you eat food, it is broken down by these organs, separating beneficial nutrients and waste.
In essence, you should be able to eat whatever you want. However, changes in food processing and preparation means our stomachs don’t always react well to everything we eat. That’s where digestive problems come in. They can range from mild to severe, and worsen over time. However, you can overcome many digestive problems by making simple lifestyle changes—watch what you eat, maintain a healthy weight, and learn to deal with stress.
How can I avoid problems with my digestive health?
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Eat more fiber, and less fatty foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid lying down after eating.
- Ask your doctor what kind of antacid you can take.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Learn your triggers
- Reduce stress by physical activity, support groups
- Find a supportive doctor who has experience with your digestive problem
- Take a daily walk.
- Plan ahead when going out; know where the public restrooms are.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking
- Consider medical marijuana