12 Tips for a Healthy and Pain-Free Digestive System

in Health & Well-being

There are many gastrointestinal issues from which you can suffer. Celiac disease, GERD, and IBS are just a few examples. If you experience any of these, then you know they can be extremely painful, debilitating, and fatal in some cases. Fortunately, for a healthy and pain-free digestive system, there are easy steps you can take to reduce the worst symptoms. Some include cutting out harmful substances, changing your diet, getting support from vitamin and mineral supplements designed to help with the correct functioning of vital bodily functions.

Take the Right Medication

Digestive problems cause various conditions throughout your body. For instance, gluten will cause bloating and diarrhea, while acid reflux is a symptom of IBS. Unfortunately, these are also causes of indigestion, which can be extremely painful. In some cases, indigestion can feel like a heart attack. Fortunately, great medication is available over-the-counter in the form of indigestion relief tablets and drinks. Or you can take lansoprazole and omeprazole for heartburn. However, acid reduction medication is dangerous for people with gastric ulcers.

Avoid Alcohol Like the Plague

Alcohol consumption isn’t good for you in any way. Still, the debate rages on about the health benefits of specific wines. However, one thing is for sure; alcohol can wreak havoc on your digestive health. When you drink a lot, your mucous cells in the stomach get damaged, and they get inflamed, and lesions form. In addition, drinks with more than 15% alcohol volume can delay stomach emptying, causing the food to spoil and making you feel queasy. In addition, the effects of alcohol will exacerbate the symptoms of GI issues such as heartburn and indigestion.

Cut Down on Spicy Foods

Sadly, spicy foods can make GI and digestive problems worse. Given how much exotic ingredients like chilies, ginger, and spices are enjoyed, it’s likely some of your favorite most delicious dishes actually harm you. When your GI problems get to a certain point, the time inevitably comes when you need to rethink your diet. And this could mean missing out on your favorite ingredients. For instance, chilies and onions make indigestion worse. Onions and garlic, in particular, contain fructans and insoluble fiber. These two alone can cause pain and diarrhea.

Reduce Your Fat Intake

It’s long been known that monounsaturated trans fats are incredibly harmful to your health. If you aren’t sure, trans fats are solid fats at room temperature. These include lard and pig fat. However, they are also found inside meat and dairy. The good news is you don’t need to stop eating your favorite meats. However, it is helpful to cut off as much fat as possible or switch to a leaner cut. Fats of this type prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from fully closing, resulting in heartburn and reflux as stomach acid is forced upwards, causing pain.

Quit Smoking

You probably don’t need to be informed of the dangers of smoking. However, you may not be aware that smoking also exacerbates the symptoms of almost all GI issues. Additionally, smoking causes stomach ulcers. So, with an unhealthy diet, smoking and drinking, you could be in for a world of pain and long-term problems for as long as suck your butts. Smoking or even chewing tobacco makes the valve between your esophagus and stomach less rigid. Like consuming trans fats, your stomach acid rises to your throat, causing heartburn and acid reflux.

Just Say No

Finally, for harmful substances, illicit drugs are also hazardous to your digestive health. In addition to the actual effects of chemicals like cocaine, many drugs suppress your appetite. This causes you to binge eat, putting your stomach and digestive system under pressure causing ulcers and organ damage. The onset of dehydration also prevents your body from producing the necessary saliva for adequately breaking down foods.

However, it should be noted that the following OTC drugs can also make GI issues worse:

  • Iron supplements
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin

Always consult your doctor before taking OTC medication if you experience severe problems associated with GI problems.

Switch to Healthier Tea

While teas are largely healthy and suitable for many ailments, some may exacerbate your GI symptoms. For instance, flavored teas often contain artificial or processed flavoring chemicals that aren’t natural to the tea. Peppermint, fruit, and licorice teas are good examples. Additionally, caffeine and theophylline can make heartburn and GERD worse. Fortunately, some teas are safe to consume if you suffer from GI problems. For example, licorice, chamomile, slippery elm, and marshmallow teas are generally more soothing and may help with or reduce heartburn.

Cut Out Caffeine

As mentioned with tea, caffeine can make your GI issues worse. You might get away with drinking tea, but it’s unlikely your coffee will not cause you some problems. Caffeine contains twice as much caffeine as tea, which can worsen your GI or IBS symptoms. Caffeine relaxes the muscles in your throat and digestive system, allowing acid to rise. Heartburn will eventually occur if you intake too much caffeine. It would help if you also stayed away from energy drinks like Red Bull and other sources of caffeine such as dark chocolate and cola soft drinks.

Consume Meals Slowly

When you suffer from gastrointestinal issues, eating your food at a steady pace is helpful. This can be challenging when faced with a juicy steak just begging to be eaten, but eating too quickly will make your symptoms worse. If you eat too fast, you can swallow air, which makes you gassy. Overeating will also cause cramps and diarrhea, so you’ll feel better if you eat smaller meals or eat smaller portions. For instance, rather than the typical three meals per day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you could eat smaller meals more often to reduce the effects.

Eat the Right Fruits

It might surprise you, but some fruits can cause severe issues with your digestion. Fruits high in fructose, the sugar in fruit can make your digestive problems worse. For instance, eating pineapples will result in severe abdominal pain and bloating. Fortunately, there are some fruits that are low in fructose, such as:

  • Avocado
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Berries
  • Pumpkin
  • Papaya

It is possible you cannot digest fructose properly. Fructose malabsorption causes or worsens the symptoms of IBS. You should also be aware that processed fruits in cans or dried fruits usually contain much higher levels of fructose.

Regulate Your Fiber Intake

Fiber is known for its beneficial effect on the guts and digestive system. However, there are different types of soluble and insoluble fiber, some of which are harmful. For example, insoluble fiber like that found in wheat bran makes IBS symptoms worse. However, soluble fiber from oats, apples, and beans may help your digestive problems. Soluble fiber works by forming a gel to help with digestion. It also bulks your stool, making it easier to pass. However, too much fiber will cause constipation and further increase the pain and bloating associated with GI problems.

Balance Minerals and Vitamins

The healthy wonders of a balanced and varied diet come from the vitamins and minerals in your food. They help regulate blood pressure, carry oxygen, and build stronger bones. And some can help in the fight against common GI pain and suffering. For example, potassium aids the digestive system by carrying water, and iron supports probiotic bacteria in your gut. Of course, you will get most of what you need from your diet. Still, you can take supplements such as digestive enzymes, l-glutamine, vitamin D, and prebiotics for a healthy and pain-free digestive system.

Image Credits: Mohamed Hassan

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