If you experience frequent digestive issues, such as gas, bloating, constipation, or loose bowel movements, you know just how frustrating it can be to go through life. But with a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, you might be able to reduce or even eliminate these issues.
Digestive Issues? You Aren’t Alone
Millions of Americans suffer from digestive diseases and ailments – 20 million to be exact. Digestive issues are one of the most common causes of disability in the workforce and account for 25 percent of all surgical operations.
While colorectal cancer, appendicitis, and other acute digestive diseases account for most of the surgeries and disabilities, millions more live with chronic, underlying issues that never receive treatment. This includes inflammatory bowel disease, chronic liver disease, etc.
5 Ways to Ease Digestive Issues
The good news is that many digestive issues can be treated, prevented, and/or reduced with the right plan of action. Here are several tips that may help:
Test for Food Sensitivities
The average person has at least one food intolerance or sensitivity. Many people have multiple (and new ones can appear as you age). While not as severe as a food allergy – which can put you in the hospital – intolerances can make you feel icky.
The most common food intolerances include dairy, gluten, caffeine, salicylates, amines, FODMAPs, sulfites, and fructose. Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, gas, rashes, headaches, nausea, fatigue, reflux, flushing of the skin, and runny nose.
There are a couple of ways to identify sensitivities. One option is to strip your diet down to almost nothing – eating very safe and basic foods. Then you slowly add different types of foods back into your diet and see if anything triggers digestive issues. Another option is to have a sensitivity test performed.
Know Which Foods Trigger You
Try keeping a daily food journal to record what you eat and how you feel at different times during the day. This can help you identify which foods trigger gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Common triggers for many people include: wheat, pears, prunes, onions, peaches, mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower, milk and dairy products, broccoli, asparagus, beans, coffee, alcohol, greasy foods, and even apples. However, for some people, these foods do nothing. That’s why you should track your own diet and identify problematic foods.
Other tips for reducing gas and bloating include cutting back on fatty foods, avoiding fizzy drinks, quitting smoking, and avoiding sweeteners like fructose and sorbitol. (These are usually found in low-carb foods, gum, candies, and energy bars.)
Practice Better Hygiene
It might not be food causing your digestive issues. Sometimes it’s prolonged exposure to bacteria and viruses. You can reduce your risk of exposure by practicing better hygiene.
For example, you should probably rethink your bathroom habits. This includes cleaning your toilet more often.
As Bidet Mate notes, “The toilet seat is a common source of bacteria. In addition, the rim of the toilet is often missed when we clean the toilet. The bacteria from the urine will also contaminate our hands and cause us to develop loose bowel movements.”
In addition to cleaning your bathroom, make sure you pay attention to other problem areas and items in your home. This includes your floors, smartphones, remote controls, and bedsheets.
Check Your Medications
If you’re on medication, check with your doctor to determine whether it could be causing digestive issues. Certain prescription drugs can cause nausea, constipation, and/or diarrhea. But it’s not just prescriptions. Habitual use of anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter pain medicine may contribute to heartburn and related issues.
The more sedentary you are on a daily basis, the more likely you are to experience digestive issues (particularly constipation). By staying active, you improve blood flow and circulation in your body. This keeps your body regular, while also ensuring the right nutrients are sent to the digestive tract for proper food processing and absorption.
Putting it All Together
The more proactive you are about your digestive health, the fewer issues you’ll have. The hope is that this article has given you some simple and tangible steps to take toward feeling better. Implement them one at a time and track any improvements you notice.