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Gastrointestinal Distress and How to Fix it

GI Distress is a very real problem.

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 and bloated with gastrointestinal distress even though you ate healthy foods and didn’t junk it?

Intestinal distress is no joke. Gastric problems can be isolating, embarrassing and painful and can ruin your plans and have you wanting to stay home or away from people. If you have family, they can keep you from participating in whatever the family is doing, from what and where they eat to enjoying vacations and special meals out.

When it comes to gut health, people are embarrassed, so they tend to suffer in silence and prolong seeking help.

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.

If your body is getting in the way of enjoying your life, it won’t get better without your intervention.

Always start with the foods you’re eating. Food is the cause of the majority of digestive issues. Food is also the remedy for most gastric problems affecting your GI health. Digestive issues are a huge problem to your health. Health begins in the gut, and often ends there.

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.
SOURCE: 2009 study published on National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases1)

“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, candida infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. Obesity and diabetes afflict far too many people these days. For others it’s even life threatening.

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!

Your body is screaming for help and it’s time to listen.

The good news: improving gastrointestinal distress is not so hard. Little efforts each day can go a long way. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your GI health almost in short order.

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 these to snacks and meals in conjunction with the dense nutrient rich foods can go a long way toward 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, diverticula (outpouchings) and polyps which can lead to 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 that may not be your favorite, to help get them into your diet.2)


Fiber rich foods for your shopping list:

(listed alphabetically)

  • Apples
  • Almonds (and other nuts)
  • Artichoke
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Lentils
  • Brown rice
  • Grains, (quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, rye, wheat berry)
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta, whole-grain pasta, (or alternative grain pasta, such as quinoa and spinach)
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Whole wheat bread, (or gluten free multi-grain alternatives)
Fill up on nature’s bounty first and you’re much less likely to go for the denatured processed foods.


2. Coffee? Maybe…

For caffeine junkies, digestion might not be a problem because you body is used to coffee in your 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.

You might enjoy the “bulletproof coffee” craze where people are losing weight and loving their coffee with butter and coconut oil. That’s my daily cuppa Joe and I love it! Plus the coconut oil had unexpected side benefits.

Another benefit to coffee: if you have low blood pressure, coffee can actually help to increase your blood pressure. For more information on dizziness and low blood pressure, you may enjoy this article.


3. Good bacteria for good digestion.

The probiotic benefit in yogurt make it another good solution for 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.

Our favorite yogurts are grass fed yogurt by Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt, and also Organic Valley, which we get from our local Harris Teeter grocery store. We also make our own using organic whole milk and yogurt starter.

We either use a yogurt maker or make it in our Instant Pot. The benefit of the yogurt maker is the cups are in handy, ready-to-eat size. The benefit to the Instant Pot is that we can make a much larger batch at a time, which is better for our family of four. Either way, we use this yogurt starter.

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.3)

The other thing we use for optimal GI health is sauerkraut and other fermented foods. Homemade is best, using organic cabbage because most of that in jars and cans do not have the probiotic benefits. You can read more about that in this article on our gardening site. We also really enjoy kombucha, so bought a kit to make some, but haven’t done that yet.

But, if you can’t get your probiotics from some of the best foods, the next best thing is a good probiotic from a reliable and reputable source, such as this one on Amazon. Best probiotics (top rated on Amazon, and manufactured by a company we trust).

If you try all of these tips you’re very likely to see things improve. However, if problems persist, you may benefit by the leaky gut diet. And of course, consult with your physician. This is your body and your health begins in your gut.


4. Steer clear of fried food.

If you’re already having digestive problems or prone to having trouble, 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. One sign of fat in your stool is if it’s floating on the surface. By avoiding these kinds of food, you are less likely to suffer from steatorrhea, acid reflux, and other digestive problems.

Fried foods are also not only not nutritious, but contain free radicals that damage cells from the oil that becomes toxic when heated to such high levels require for frying.4)

5. The carbonated bloat

Sodas and fizzy drinks can be quite refreshing sometimes but 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.

Carbonated beverages can also stimulate your appetite and suppress ghrelin, the satiety hormone. Diet sodas are worse than sparkling water, but they’re all surprisingly not your friend.

6. Spicy makes you gassy!

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 something spicy? Well, there’s your answer! If you already have a sensitive stomach, you’re probably prone to hyperacidity as well.

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 backyard 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. This is the one we use. I like that it’s a pleasant-tasting chewable tablet.


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

      • Coffee
      • Carbonated drinks
      • Spices (garlic and onion)
      • Acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes
      • Peppermint
      • Spicy food
      • Alcoholic drinks
      • Chocolate
      • Cheese and other high-fat dairy products
      • Nuts
      • 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. Take care of your body and it will take care of you!

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 and bloated with gastrointestinal distress even though you ate healthy foods and didn't junk it?

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Hey there! I’m a freelance writer and I write fitness/health articles. I have a BS in Physical Therapy. So far, this has helped me a lot in writing health articles. I’m an avid reader and I really like writing.

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