Gastronomic Warfare. It’s one thing to watch swirling bubbles in a fish tank. But it’s a different matter when it is happening in your gut. Is there any relief for the 10 million Americans that suffer from chronic burping, belching, bloating, indigestion and bowel trouble? Many digestive and bowel disorders have their root in our cultural shift away from dietary fiber, exercise, and social connectedness. Frenzied, fast-paced, isolated lifestyles combined with fatty fast foods, sugary snacks, and inactivity has taken its toll on digestive health, causing a sharp rise in what are called “functional bowel disorders.”
Functional bowel disorders include irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. GI tract disorders can indicate other serious conditions. Always work with your healthcare team for diagnosis and treatment strategies.
Our digestive system, like many systems in nature, works best in orderly rhythms and cycles. Regular hours for eating, sleeping, relaxation, exercise, and other routines improves digestive health.
Menu Do’s and Don’ts
Foods high in saturated fat promote inflammation of the stomach lining, as
do alcohol, hot spicy food, high sodium, and caffeine. A diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains has a “bulking effect” that promotes regularity and reduces constipation and diarrhea. Dietary fiber reduces the risk of gastritis and aids gut bacteria and intestinal cells, reducing the risk for inflammatory bowel disease.
Meal Timing and Other Tips
- Regularity. Frequent eating adds calories and interferes with the stomachs ability to process the next meal, causing indigestion.
- Try this! Try eating plenty of fiber foods only at mealtime and let your stomach rest between meals. Eat much less for your third meal.
- Rapid Eating. “Wolfing down” a meal is a common cause of indigestion and stomach upset. It is also linked with poor blood sugar control.
Try this! Slower eating is linked to better digestion, nutrient availability, fewer calories consumed, and improved mental function. Fast eating is a habit you can break. Don’t eat in front of the computer, TV, or while driving. Focus on the meal and enjoy the experience.
Reduce Portions. Eating “just a little bit less” than completely full reduces bloating, aids digestion, and even extends life.
Try this! Take smaller portions and stop eating just shy of completely
full. You will notice less of a “mental fog” and listlessness after meals.
Try this! “Charge” your system with warm water in the morning. To reduce acid reflux, walk after meals and wait about an hour before drinking lots of water.
Mood, Meals, and Motility
Emotional health is strongly linked with digestive health. Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression cause many stomach ailments. Managing stress, light exercise before or after meals, and getting rest all ease anxiety and lower stress-related digestive problems.