Digestive System Disorders

manage them with the right food

Digestive system disorders can range from the mildly irritating to the more serious and debilitating.  The moment we smell food our digestive system kicks into action and begins a series of processes.  

These processes are in place to help break down our food initially and then pass it through the system where in can be absorbed and nutrients sent to the parts of our body where they are most needed. 

However it is rarely as simple as that.  There are all kinds of foods and outside influences that can interrupt, slow down and generally mess with the digestion of essential nutrients.

Common Digestive System Disorders

Flatulence

Caused mainly by bacteria present in the large intestine that feed on the food we eat and produce gas as a by-product.  This is known as fermentation and the gas produced is expelled as fermentation. 

Foods that are known to cause fermentation and lead to flatulence are beans, vegetables and wholegrain such as lentils, pulses, cabbage and cauliflower.  Our body is not able to break down some of the carbohydrate contained in these foods, causing the bacteria to release gas.

Indigestion

Indigestion is an abnormal discomfort following eating and just about everyone has experienced it sometime.  We have all had that uncomfortable feeling of heartburn and general chest discomfort, often caused by excess acid in the stomach.

Some of the factors that contribute to indigestion are alcohol, smoking, spicy or fatty foods and excessive use of tea or coffee.  It is also common in pregnant women and overweight people because of pressure being exerted on the digestive tract. 

Some changes in diet that can help indigestion are to avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee and alcohol.  Also avoiding refined foods that contain sugar such as cakes and biscuits.  Eating slowly and chewing food well will also help prevent symptoms.

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is one of the most common digestive system disorders.  Symptoms can range from indigestion, excessive wind, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, to extreme abdominal pain.  

It can be caused by food sensitivities, drinking too much tea and coffee, stress and lactose intolerance among other things.

In an ideal diet for ibs, high fibre cereals, bran and saturated fats are foods to avoid with ibs.  Foods to include should be fresh fruit and vegetables and bio yogurts as well as drinking plenty of fluids.

Candida

Candida is a yeast-like organism found in the intestines and when under control does not cause any harm.  However when it turns into its fungal state it can become one of the more harmful digestive system disorders. 

When it does become a problem, foods to avoid in the diet are yeast, sugar, lactose containing dairy foods and alcohol.  Good candida diet guidelines suggest foods to be included should be olive oil, garlic, fresh vegetables and salads, oily fish and yoghurt.

Celiac Disease

Also known as gluten intolerance or sensitivity and is triggered by gluten found in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  It causes the inner linings of the intestines to become damaged and unable to absorb nutrients. 

If gluten is avoided the intestinal wall will heal and normal functions will return and remain so long as the individual continues to avoid foods contain gluten.  Foods such as breads, cakes pasta, biscuits and foods covered in batter all contain gluten.

Constipation

Constipation is usually the passage of hard, dry stools or difficulty passing a stool, with the most common cause being a lack of fibre in the diet.  Other causes such as IBS, food allergies, stress and depression can also be causes among many others. 

Dietary changes that can help this most common of digestive system disorders are increasing fibre intake, reduce milk and diary, avoid tea and coffee and increase water intake.  All this will help to keep the digestive system moving and relieve and prevent constipation.

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