Do you ever get stomachaches? Well, join the 41 million people who, in the United States alone, visit their doctor with a chief complaint of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Most of the time, this is just a little stomachache, but many times, it can be indicative of a serious, even life-threatening GI disorder. These conditions range from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and gastric reflux problems to the life-threatening condition of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. The focus of this article will be on how to recognize the symptoms of three of the most common gastric problems and how to aid in relieving the symptoms through proper diet and exercise.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is the most prominent of the GI disorders, but also the least understood. It is a disorder of the large intestine and causes recurrent abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort and changes in the consistency and frequency of bowel movements. No one knows the exact cause but many expert think it is a manifestations of a hypersensitive GI tract that is easily pained and stimulated. This in turn can cause bloating, gas and cramping, particularly after a large, bulky meal. In order to diagnose this syndrome, a person must have pain or discomfort for a minimum of 12 weeks out of one year and will usually feel relief of pain upon defecation, has looser or more frequent stools or harder and more frequent stools. Symptoms often worsen when eating large meals, taking certain medications, becoming emotionally upset or when ingesting milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, or fatty foods.
High Fiber foods, such as broccoli, apples and whole grain cereals, along with probiotics found in yogurts may help. Minimizing stress, preferably with exercise has also had a positive effect on IBS sufferers.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
It is best to avoid alcohol, chocolate, coffee, citrus fruits and fatty foods in general. Also, regular exercise is advised especially in overweight people. It is very important to seek medical treatment if your symptoms persist and if they are not relieved with dietary changes and over the counter drugs.
More about gut problems in my next post. And don’t forget that that taking care of your digestive system is another way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”