4 Ways Your Digestive Tract Can Betray You (and What To Do About It)
Your digestive system is an expansive network of organs that turn your food into energy. It consists of the mouth, esophagus, small and large intestines, stomach, and rectum—and it’s about 30 feet long. That leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong. If you have experienced any kind of digestive distress, you may have wondered what exactly was happening in your body. Here, Crunchy Mama Box presents some of the most common digestive problems you may encounter.
Understanding the Gut Biome
Scientists are still working to fully understand the gut microbiome, but we do know that it plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health. Our gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microorganisms that work together in a complex ecosystem to digest food, fight off harmful pathogens, and regulate our immune system. These microorganisms produce essential vitamins and nutrients, enzymes that break down food, and anti-inflammatory compounds that protect against diseases.
An imbalance in this delicate ecosystem can lead to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. Thus, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome through a balanced diet and lifestyle can significantly improve our overall health and well-being.
If you’re a woman, you may associate bloating with Mother Nature’s monthly visits. But hormones aren’t the only reason you feel like a balloon has been inflated in your gut. Bloating is simply an excess of gas in the abdomen, and it can be caused by a number of issues. Aaptiv explains that eating food that contains too much salt can be a culprit, as well as food sensitivities and overeating.
One of the simplest ways to combat bloating and abdominal distention is by eating foods and supplements that contain probiotics. Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria that can be helpful in promoting good digestive health. They help to increase the levels of “good” bacteria in the gut, while reducing the levels of bad bacteria. When selecting probiotics, it is important to look at the strains and potency available as different probiotic strains can be more or less effective for different health problems. For example, some probiotics may support weight loss and immunity, while others may focus on improving digestion and relieving gastrointestinal discomfort. By selecting the right probiotic for your needs, you can ensure you get the maximum benefit from taking these beneficial bacteria supplements.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is an uncomfortable condition that results in stomach acids being pushed into the esophagus. It’s caused by a number of factors, including being overweight and consuming excessively spicy, acidic, and fatty foods. The US National Library of Medicine explains that GERD is typically only diagnosed if you experience heartburn more than twice per week, although GERD can occur with other symptoms, such as a dry cough or trouble swallowing.
In most cases, GERD can be controlled through diet and exercise and by taking an over-the-counter acid reducer. It should be noted that exercise does not specifically prevent gastrointestinal disorders, but weight loss resulting from physical activity can. If you suffer from GERD, you’ll need to take precautions when you exercise and stick with activities that keep you upright and don’t exert force on your abdomen.
If you’re new to a regular exercise routine, start slow with something as simple as walking, and then add more types of aerobic exercise as well as strength training. Keep a journal, and write down how you feel in the hours after your workout to gauge how your routine is helping.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease does not refer to one specific disorder. The two most common, however, are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel disease can affect both men and women, but is most prevalent among Caucasians aged 35 and older. Symptoms of IBD run the gamut from diarrhea and bleeding ulcers to anemia and bowel obstruction. Untreated, it can trigger malnutrition, colon cancer, and intestinal ruptures.
Unfortunately, there is not yet a definitive cure for IBD. Dietary changes, stress management, vitamin supplements, improved sleep, and exercise can lower symptoms and reduce incident recurrences and complications. A great place to start looking for ways to reduce stress is at home. Alternative treatments include chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture.
4. Chronic Constipation
Occasional constipation isn’t necessarily a problem. However, when you fail to have a bowel movement for many days, or your bathroom habits don’t result in proper excretion, you may have chronic constipation. In addition to being uncomfortable, infrequent bowel movements can trigger abdominal pain, bloating, and bad moods.
There are many ways to encourage healthy bowel function, which is a crucial step on the road to treating yourself to a happier, healthier lifestyle. Adding fiber in the form of fruits, sprouted nuts, and whole grains is an important first step. Maintaining proper hydration and avoiding foods that are slow to digest, including red meat and milk, will also keep things moving. If you have celiac disease, you also need to avoid the protein gluten, which is found in certain grains.
Stay on Top of Your Medical Records
Tracking what treatments have been done and by whom can get overwhelming, especially if you have seen multiple specialists about your digestive troubles. Try keeping a medical diary so that you have your own records of what you experienced, when, and who treated you (with what procedures or medications).
You can also request copies of your medical files so that you always have that information on hand. As these files start to grow, consider using a free tool to merge PDF files together to make them easier to locate. For instance, you could combine all documents related to a particular diagnosis or a particular specialist together. Use whatever organizational system makes sense to you. Then add the files to the drop zone and select Merge to combine them.
Take Steps for Better Gut Health
While no amount of diet and exercise can guarantee you won’t experience digestive issues, watching what you eat and staying active will help. Talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle and avoid fad diets, which often do more harm than good.
Credit: Emma Grace Brown
Wellness involves many different aspects of your bodily health and lifestyle. If you’re interested in more ways to care for your overall well-being, visit Crunchy Mama Box today!