Digestive Issues: 7 Disorders And Tips You Need To Know

Most digestive issues are related to lifestyle, diet or stress. However, some digestive disorders such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases have a genetic background too. Changes in your lifestyle can help to achieve a healthy gut and improve many of these problems.

In this post, I aim to explain 7 of the most common digestive issues and give tips on how to reduce the symptoms and prevent these problems in the long term.

 

Digestive issues

 

#1Indigestion

Symptoms of indigestion include feeling full and bloated after a meal, farting and having acid reflux.

One of the causes can be to have low stomach acid or also called hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is made in the stomach and it's used to break down the food, especially proteins, but also aids in mineral and vitamin B12 absorption. HCl also acts as the first line of defence against ingested bacteria. Thus, having low acid levels may cause nutritional deficiencies, imbalances in the gut bacteria and general discomfort due to undigested food.

 

But how do you know if you actually have low HCl levels? These are two tests that you can do at home.

I also did this test myself and needed to take as much as 11 pills in order to feel the burning sensation. I know, it's a lot! These are the Betaine HCl pills I took.

And there is more! When food is not digested properly, particles arrive at the colon where bacteria ferment them. Here we are not only talking about resistant starch and fiber, but also about undigested proteins and fats, whose byproducts can lead to bloating, smelly gas and constipation. In this case, taking digestive enzymes can help easer these complaints. These are the digestive pills I have used over the years.

 

#2Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is characterized by frequent loose, watery stools or a frequent need to go to the toilet. Common causes include Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), painkillers, bacterial and viral gut infections and diabetic medication. Moreover, food intolerances such as lactose intolerance, alcohol and artificial sweeteners may also cause diarrhoea.

Drink plenty of fluids and take antidiarrheal drugs if the problem persists for several days.

 

#3Constipation

Another digestive issue is constipation. The main sign of constipation is not having a bowel movement or having them infrequently (less than 3 times a week). Several factors may lead to irregular bowel movements: low or too high fiber diet, dehydration, certain medications and a disruption of the normal routine or diet.

Laxatives (stool softeners) can be used if the constipation is very persistent. However, they can weaken your bowel muscles and it is very easy to become dependent on them. Only use them on specific occasions. If you choose to take laxatives, I recommend taking magnesium citrate pills. Magnesium acts as an osmotic laxative by attracting water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up the stool, which makes it easier to pass.

 

#4Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a condition in which the colon muscle contracts more often. The cause is unknown, but certain foods, gastrointestinal infection or food poisoning, medicines and stress are factors that can trigger IBS.

Typical symptoms are abdominal pain, cramps, excess gas, bloating, change in bowel movement, constipation or diarrhoea.

Try the low FODMAP diet. In this diet, foods containing fermentable short-chain carbohydrates are reduced. Bacteria ferment these carbohydrates resulting in increased volumes of liquid and gas in the intestine, contributing to the IBS symptoms.

Foods such as ginger, peppermint and chamomile may also help reduce some IBS symptoms.

 

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#5Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBD)

IBDs include Crohn's Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Both disorders may appear due to an overstimulated immune system that leads the body to attack the gastrointestinal tract and the creation of ulcers. The causes of IBD are not known, but it is thought that environmental factors and stress may contribute. People may also have a genetic predisposition.

Symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloody stools, fever, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. 

Currently, there is no cure as it is a chronic disease. However, IBD can be controlled with anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants. 

 

#6Celiac Disease

     Celiac disease is a different type of digestive issue. It is an autoimmune disorder where the person is unable to eat gluten (a protein found in rye, barley, wheat and others) without triggering inflammation on their small intestine. When this happens, the villi (finger-like protrusions of the small intestine that help in the absorption of nutrients) get damaged.

     Some of the symptoms are abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, bloating, chronic diarrhoea, fatty stool and bad odours. It is normally diagnosed with a blood test and stool analysis.

     There is no cure, but people can avoid most of the symptoms by following a gluten-free diet. People can still enjoy rice, quinoa, lentils, soy, corn and amaranth.

 

#7Reflux

Heartburn or also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER) may be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth or hypersalivation. It can be dangerous as, over time, it can harm the oesophagus and lead to oesophagal cancer.

What causes acid reflux? Certain foods and drinks such as alcohol, chocolate, coffee, fatty and spicy foods; being overweight, smoking, stress, pregnancy and anti-inflammatory painkillers (ibuprofen).

Contrary to what most people think, acid reflux may be caused by low stomach acid. The oesophagus sphincter is stimulated by high stomach acid (generally after a meal) and it closes. When there is little stomach acid it remains open, and this is why the heartburn appears. These are the Betaine HCl pills I took.

 

Digestive Issues Tips 2

 

 

Tips to prevent or reduce symptoms of most digestive issues:

 

Digestive issues tend to be related to your diet and lifestyle but, if you follow these guidelines, you should be able to minimize the symptoms.