Millions of Americans complain of digestive problems. Some are diagnosable conditions that require medical intervention from an expert such as board-certified gastroenterologist Bharat Pothuri, MD at GastroDoxs here in Houston, Texas.
But many digestive complaints aren’t associated with a specified medical condition. Rather, they’re the result of lifestyle habits. At GastroDoxs, we want to help you have the healthiest digestion possible. Read on to learn some things you can do to boost your digestive health, whether you have a diagnosed condition or not.
Common digestive complaints
Digestive problems that aren’t associated with a diagnosable condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are common, and they’re often due to stress or dietary choices.
Consider changing your habits if you frequently suffer from:
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas
If any of these symptoms are disabling, chronic, or accompanied by other issues, such as a fever or blood in your stool, call GastroDoxs for an evaluation.
In most cases, however, you can ease these digestive symptoms with simple at-home interventions.
Here are six ideas to help you improve your digestive health.
1. Eat whole, unprocessed food whenever possible
Highly processed foods such as packaged snacks and fast foods often contain ingredients that can irritate your digestive tract. Foods with ingredients such as trans fats, artificial colors and sweeteners, and refined white flour can negatively affect your digestion.
Promote good digestion by eating more foods such as whole grains, leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, and lean proteins.
2. Avoid gut-irritating foods
Everyone’s digestion is slightly different. Some people may find the following foods irritating due to intolerances:
- Highly spiced foods
- Fried foods
- Acidic food such as vinegar
Experiment with limiting these foods in your meal plans to see if issues such as diarrhea or chronic gas clear up.
3. Eat enough fiber
Fiber is a critical part of any diet. Soluble fiber, found in legumes, nuts, seeds, and oat bran, adds bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber, found in vegetables, whole grains, and wheat bran, scrubs your digestive tract to keep things moving. Both types of fiber help keep your system regular, reducing the likelihood you’ll suffer from constipation.
Most adults should aim to consume 25-38 grams per day. If you don’t consume a lot of fibrous foods right now, add them in gradually so your body can acclimate slowly.
4. Stay hydrated
Liquid helps added fiber move more easily through your system and adds softness to your stools. Drink water and consume fluid-rich foods, such as broth-based soups, fruits, and fresh vegetables.
5. Reduce stress
Stress negatively affects your digestive tract. The hormones released when you’re in “fight-or-flight” mode divert blood and energy away from your digestive system. Issues such as stomach ulcers, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea are associated with stress.
While not all stress can be avoided, it can be better managed. Participate in stress-reducing activities, such as yoga or meditation. Also consider delegating tasks to others at work or taking on fewer obligations if you find that stress is causing your stomach to suffer.
6. Add probiotic-containing foods
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that aid in digestion. Many naturally fermented foods contain probiotics and are tasty, too. Try eating sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut to help improve your digestion.
If taking these steps doesn’t alleviate your digestive problems, contact GastroDoxs for an evaluation. Dr. Pothuri offers screenings and diagnosis of any underlying conditions that might be behind your distress. If you’re in the greater Houston area, call us today or book an appointment online.