Gastric Problems Can be Isolating
Have you ever started the day with that cute but snug outfit… feeling good… looking good… only to end up having to cover up by afternoon to try to hide your bloated belly? Have you had days where you’ve felt fat, even though you ate healthy foods and didn’t junk it? Or worse… embarrassing gastrointestinal disturbances that have you wanted to stay home or away from people.
If your body is getting in the way of enjoying your life, it won’t get better without your intervention. Far, far better to fix it with food than to start down the slippery slope of mitigating symptoms by masking it with medication.
Always start with the foods we eat. Food is most often the cause of digestive issues, and yet food is also usually the fix for most gastric problems affecting our GI health. Digestive issues are a huge problem to our health. It all begins in the gut. GI health is increasingly recognized to be a leading cause of disease. 60 to 70 million people in the US are affected by some form of digestive disease.
2009 study published on National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases 1)
“60 to 70 million people in the US are affected by some form of digestive disease.”
GI Health: The Cause is the Remedy
Everyone loves food and most people love to eat. In fact, foods are in the top 10 favorite topics discussed in the social platforms, Facebook and Twitter, and it’s likely to be in the top 5 favorite topics of discussion at the office. Food is a safe topic that everyone can get excited about.
It’s so easy to get foods of all kinds to go, and if you’re in a city or suburbs, most of that can be delivered right to your door. Yet this easy access to everything come increasingly with consequences. Issues ranging from food sensitivities and allergies to digestive disturbances and irritable bowel syndrome, to obesity and diabetes afflict too many people these days.
Today’s cornucopia wages war on the body.
If you’re suffering from one too many food hangovers or digestive issues that are just getting worse, take heed.
Your body is screaming for help and it’s time to listen.
The good news: turning this around is not so hard. Little efforts each day can go a long way.
1. Fiber it up!
If you’re dealing with constipation, fiber might just be your savior! We all know that a diet rich in fiber can help you digest more rapidly and prevent constipation. However, there can be a dizzying choice of fiber-rich foods and yet not all of them are good for your digestive system.
Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients, so adding one of these to each meal and snack can go a long way along with their added nutrients to aid in a healthy digestion. Oats, beans, and brown rice are fiber-rich foods as well.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for fiber is 30g per day. Dietary fiber can not only prevent constipation and keeps your bowel movements healthy, it has been proven to significantly decrease your risk of hemorrhoids and diverticula (outpouchings) as well. Healthy fiber may even prevent colon cancer.
There are so many ways to add fiber foods to your diet, and the list is long enough that even if you’re a picky white-and-brown-foods eater, there are options for you to enjoy, and also ways to prepare foods you may not favor, to help get them into your diet. 1)
Some fiber-rich foods for your shopping list:
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- White beans
- Whole-wheat pasta, (or alternative grain pasta, such as quinoa and spinach)
- Whole wheat bread, (or gluten free multi-grain alternatives)
- Whole grains, (quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, rye, wheat berry)
2. Coffee is not always a good idea
For caffeine junkies, digestion might not be a problem because their body is used to coffee in their system. It can even be beneficial as a natural laxative, as the caffeine in coffee makes the intestinal muscles contract more rapidly, making everything move faster.
But if you’re only an occasional coffee drinker, it might not be it may not be the best remedy as it can cause gas to accumulate in your digestive tract which can leave you with a much worse case of upset tummy and even diarrhea.
3. Good bacteria for good digestion
Go to yogurt for good probiotics that boost your intestinal health. The lactic-acid producing good bacteria in yogurt joins the normal bacterial flora in your gut and serves as your first line of defense against any infection. The American Gastrointestinal Association actually recommends consumption of yogurt to ease constipation, diarrhea, and other intestinal problems. It’s great when there can be a simple and relatively inexpensive fix for a very uncomfortable problem.
Probiotics help maintain a healthy environment inside your gastrointestinal tract, which aids digestion, but if you’re lactose intolerant, or just don’t like yogurt, you can take a course of good probiotics periodically. Consult with the clerk at your local vitamin shop, or naturopathic doctor for good sources of probiotics. And of course, as always, if it seems serious or symptoms persist, see your doctor. 1)
Best probiotics for leaky gut (top rated on Amazon)
4. Steer clear, fat and fried
If you’re already having digestive problems or prone to having one often, better stay away from high-fat and fried foods. These kinds of food doesn’t just overwhelm your stomach and cause acid reflux and heartburn, but foods high in fat can also result in pale-colored, frothy stool called steatorrhea. This is a phenomenon when you consume too much fat and your body fails to properly digest them, making fat visible in your feces. You’ll probably recognize that you’re eating way too much fatty foods when you see your stool floating on the surface. By avoiding these kinds of food, you are less likely to suffer from steatorrhea, acid reflux, and other digestive problems.
5. The carbonated bloat
Sodas and fizzy drinks can be quite refreshing sometimes but a sneaky most of the time. The more you fill up on that sugar-filled carbonated excuse of a drink, the more you allow your health to be at risk. The trademark carbon dioxide in soda can cause excessive belching and flatulence (fart in layman’s term). The caffeinated varieties can be a laxative, like coffee, but can also cause acid reflux and heartburn. 1)
6. Spicy makes you gassy…Eeek!
Spicy foods can over stimulate your digestive tract and can even irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus. An overstimulated stomach secretes more hydrochloric acid which can lead to hyperacidity, acid reflux and heartburn. But it can get worse. The spicy food you consume will travel along the small intestine causing weird bowel movements and lots and lots of gas. Ever heard your stomach churning harshly an hour or so after eating Indian food? Well, there’s your answer! If you already have a sensitive stomach, you’re probably prone to hyperacidity as well. It’s probably best to order Chinese food instead of Indian.
7. Digestive Enzymes
Papaya to the rescue!
One of our favorite fruits, papaya is mother nature’s gift to our tummies! The remedy is in the name. The term papaya was coined because of the presence of papain in the tropical fruit. Papain is a digestive enzyme that promotes easy breakdown of proteins in the stomach and ensures proper absorption of nutrients. It’s as if papaya is made for this purpose!
It can make your digestion healthy and sound. When you’re facing an irritable stomach, papaya is your friend, with anti-inflammatory properties that helps subdue your tummy aches.
The very best is fresh papaya. However, most of us are not fortunate enough to live in a the tropics where year round fresh papaya in your back yard is a thing. So if you don’t have ready access to fresh papaya, it’s a good idea to always keep a good papain digestive supplement on hand.
8. Acid reflux is a nasty business
There’s nothing like the pain of acid burning your insides to ruin the day. Acid reflux should not be taken lightly. There are plenty of foods that can both overstimulate your stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid and over-relax esophageal sphincter causing acid reflux. The reason why acid reflux feels as if you’re having a heart attack (thus the term heartburn) is that the stomach has a special tissue lining that can withstand the low pH of the acid, this lining is sadly not present in the esophagus. The moment the esophageal sphincter relaxes and acid rushes back into the esophagus, it irritates the esophagus leaving you feeling the burn in your chest. Some people are luckier than others and haven’t even experienced this kind of pain. But if you’re not one of these people, better know the foods that can cause this before innocently imbibing.
Foods that Can Cause Acid Reflux
- Carbonated drinks
- Spices (garlic and onion)
- Acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes
- Spicy food
- Alcoholic drinks
- Cheese and other high-fat dairy products
- Fried food
- High-fat meat
So the good news is that if you’re experiencing stomach and digestive problems, the solution is likely as simple as making better food choices.
Choose health… choose to feel good and be healthy over the fleeting favor of flavor.