Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stomach pain and cramps – these are symptoms that millions of Americans live with every day. And there is a drug at every commercial break to cover up these very symptoms. Because this affects so many people, we may minimize the impact of what may seem to be mild annoyances. But I know that it can effect every area of your life from your job to your social activity to your enjoyment of food.
Many of the clients that come to see me may come for a reason other than digestive health – weight loss, managing or preventing chronic disease – but the majority of those also are experiencing symptoms of imbalance in the gut. Eliminating these symptoms for good may take time. In my experience, however, there are a few things that are consistent among those who cope with these symptoms.
If you want to increase your chance of good digestive health don’t do these 3 things that will upset your GI tract.
Don’t take medication to cover up the symptoms
A symptom is your body telling you that there is imbalance. In some cases you may be able to ignore the symptom or cover it up and eventually it will go away. But more often by not listening to what your body is trying to tell you allows for increased symptoms over time as your body tries to scream louder to get your attention.
Pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications serve their purpose. Under many circumstances it is absolutely the best route to choose. But unfortunately, when it doesn’t feel like there is time to address the irritation of a symptom there is often a medication to make that symptom go away for the time being. We have gotten into the routine of ignoring the underlying cause of the symptom and just doing what we can to make that symptom disappear.
An example is the use of proton pump inhibitors to treat reflux/heartburn. Heartburn can be a significantly uncomfortable situation that can effect your ability to sleep or even to function well throughout the day. And in some individuals PPI’s are the best route of treatment. But for many reduction of stomach acid is not getting to the root of the problem. In fact, low stomach acid may be the problem. Reduced stomach acid effects the action of the lower esophageal sphincter that functions to keep acid in the stomach preventing it from rising into the esophagus and burning that more delicate tissue. The first line of defense is to address other areas of potential imbalance including stress and diet. And sadly, side effects of medication to treat one GI problem may lead to other conditions including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and gas.
Don’t take birth control pills
Birth control pills are a common method of contraception, but a significant percentage of prescriptions may not be for contraception but for other purposes – management of heavy periods or treatment for acne. Unfortunately, with the benefits may come side effects. Research has shown that estrogen can increase permeability of the gut. What does that mean? It means that as large molecules or toxins get released from the gut into the bloodstream they may cause digestive upset as well as potential systemic symptoms.
Don’t take a “cheat” day or two from nourishing your body well
Research from Duke University found that the bacterial make up of your gut can change in 1 day when altering your diet. Your gut bacteria serve a multitude of functions including neutralizing toxins, discouraging growth of bad bacteria and yeasts, and aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients. If you make choices to nourish your body well 6 days per week and then on the 7th eat a diet rich in sugar, animal proteins and inflammatory fats – the damage may be more than simply a few extra calories on your waistline. The consequences may be reduced digestive health causing the above symptoms.
If you live with these chronic symptoms – take these first steps to feel better. And if you are ready to dig deeper into the root of your symptoms, contact Lynda.
To learn more to heal your gut so you CAN lose weight, gain energy and feel great again, click here.
There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition and healthy living. Recommendations given are not intended to replace the personalized guidance of a health professional.