Gastrointestinal Disease Prevention Tips
The gastrointestinal (GI) system is responsible for receiving the foods you eat, breaking them down through digestion so that your body can absorb its nutrients, and eliminating whatever may be indigestible from the body through bowel movements. Having it work properly is vital for good health, and when you experience symptoms that something may be wrong with it, you feel pretty miserable.
But while everyone experiences a stomach ache or having to run to the bathroom to prevent an accident, there are instances when issues with your gastrointestinal system may be a sign of something more serious, such as gastrointestinal disease.
What is Gastrointestinal Disease?
Gastrointestinal Disease is an umbrella term for a long list of disorders that may affect the gastrointestinal tract. Anything that may affect any portion of the GI system (from the mouth to the anus) is considered to be a gastrointestinal disease.
There are certain lifestyle factors that increase the risk of developing a GI disease:
- Not eating enough fiber
- Holding in bowel movements
- Excessive use of laxatives
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Taking too many antacids
- Being overweight or obese
6 Most Common Gastrointestinal Diseases
There are many different types of gastrointestinal diseases. These include:
- Acid Reflux. Acid Reflux (also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD), occurs when fluids in your stomach move back up your esophagus.
- Dyspepsia. This is the medical term for indigestion. Symptoms include regurgitating food into your mouth with a bitter acid aftertaste, sore throat, belching, hiccups, nausea, and bloating.
- Peptic Ulcers. These are sores that develop in the esophagus, the lining of the stomach, or small intestine as a result of stomach acids. They can be caused by bacteria, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, or stomach cancer. Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, changes in appetite, chest pain, vomiting, and blood in bowel movements.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic disorder of the large intestine that causes bloating, excess gas, abdominal cramping, constipation, and mucus in excrement.
- Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s Disease occurs when any part of the GI tract becomes inflamed. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, an urgent need to go to the bathroom immediately, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Some people with Crohn’s Disease may also experience a fever during flare-ups.
- Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus. They are caused by straining during bowel movements, sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, pregnancy, obesity, or anal sex. Symptoms include itchiness, swelling, and bright red blood on the toilet paper after defecating.
Gastrointestinal Disease Prevention Tips
Preventing gastrointestinal diseases require lifestyle changes:
- Eat healthier. This includes eating more leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts. In addition, avoid fizzy drinks such as sodas and sparkling water, as well as spicy or deep-fried foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for a myriad of health conditions, including many on the list of gastrointestinal diseases. This is because it causes inflammation of many internal organs as well as lowered immunity.
- Get enough sleep. Several GI diseases are linked to people who suffer from chronic insomnia, especially for patients of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is because while you sleep, your body works to restore any issues within your body. In addition, when you haven’t rested enough, you tend to crave foods that cause GI issues in the first place.
- Do not allow stress to take over your life. There are plenty of factors that can add stress in your life: taking care of kids, a less than ideal situation at work, arguments with your spouse, being a caregiver for an ailing loved one… Yet stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of GI diseases, making you experience more severe abdominal cramps. In addition, every aspect of digestion is controlled by the nervous system, which responds to stress. Therefore, it’s crucial to find stress relievers that work best for you.
- Stay hydrated. Water intake is essential to keep the foods you eat moving through your digestive system, as well as keeping your intestines flexible. Therefore, dehydration is linked to a long list of digestive disorders. It’s also one of the most common causes of chronic constipation, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of hemorrhoids. If you’re not a fan of drinking too much water, try to incorporate it into your daily routine gradually, along with broths, fruits, and herbal teas.
If You Believe You May Have Gastrointestinal Disease, Let Us Help You
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us today to explore your options and discuss how we can help you.