Digestive issues include any symptoms or problems that disrupt function of the gastrointestinal tract, normal digestion, absorption of nutrients and removing waste from the body. It is a broad term embracing a whole host of different health complaints.
How common are digestive issues
Digestive problems are incredibly common in the UK, ranging from temporary discomfort to digestive diseases which may require treatment.
According to some sources, the vast majority of UK consumers experience digestive and gastrointestinal ailments. The research from Mintel revealed that eighty six percent of all British adults suffer from some form of gastrointestinal issues (1).
It’s estimated that over seventy percent of the world’s population does not produce the lactase enzyme and is lactose intolerant. Highest rates of lactose intolerance are found especially among people of African and Asian origin.
The most common digestive issues and their key causes
The most frequently experienced digestive issues are associated with abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence, diarrhoea and constipation.
There can be many possible causes of digestive problems including the following:
- Lack of probiotic bacteria
- Excessive or insufficient secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach
- Deficiency of bile and pancreatic digestive enzymes (protease, amylase and lipase)
- Deficiency of enzyme lactase leading to lactose (milk sugar) intolerance
- Gluten intolerance
- Food allergies
- Stomach cramps (inability for their stomachs to relax)
- Inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis
- Helicobacter pylori infection (contributing to gastric ulcers)
- Food poisoning
- Spastic colon or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Candida overgrowth
The influence of modern lifestyle and diet
When it comes to what is causing the listed above digestive and gastrointestinal problems, it is rarely intolerance or an infection.
Several factors, especially poor eating habits lead to the deficiency of friendly bacteria in the gut. As a result, the intestines are overloaded with pathogenic yeasts and harmful bacteria. It leads to indigestion, bloating, gas, malabsorption of nutrients, constipation or diarrhoea.
The unhealthy diet also contributes to the deficiency of digestive enzymes and insufficient production of stomach acid. It results in abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn, malabsorption of nutrients, as well as underweight or overweight.
The most common lifestyle and dietary causes of digestive problems are the following:
- Regular consumption of processed and refined products (deprived of nutrients and enzymes)
- Diet low in fibre and high in refined foods and sugar
- Consumption of fried, fatty or greasy foods
- Regular use of popular stimulants (alcohol, caffeine, etc.)
- Eating too fast and too late
- Drinking too much liquid with or after meals
- Eating raw fruits and raw vegetables at the same meals (eating them together leads to excessive fermentation)
- Eating raw fruits after meals instead of consuming them before meals
- Stress, irritability, anxiety, and depression
Can poor gut health contribute to other health issues
Colorectal cancer, autoimmune conditions, obesity, skin problems, irritability, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome are but a handful of conditions that can be related to the poor gastrointestinal health.
Chronic deficiency of friendly bacteria in the colon leads to the condition known as the leaky gut syndrome (2). It is characterised by increased intestinal permeability in which the walls of the gut get damaged. It allows harmful bacteria and toxins to pass through those damaged walls and get into the bloodstream. The toxins poison the body leading to systemic inflammation. If leaky gut is left untreated, it can contribute to more serious health issues such as IBS, arthritis, depression, and autoimmune problems including eczema, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis. Poor gastrointestinal health may increase the risk of heart disease. There is also some evidence pointing to the leaky gut as a contributor to the type 1 diabetes.
Dietary recommendations to keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy
Eat whole, unprocessed and rich in fibre foods, and choose as many organics as possible.
24-hour fast once a week can greatly improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract. It will help to detoxify the body and will allow your GI tract to rest and regenerate itself. During the fast drink only two glasses of clean water mixed with one tablespoon of the Super Greens Powder three times a day.
You need more fibre but increase it gradually. Start from vegetable juices as they are deprived of fibre. You can try steamed and cooked vegetables and slowly add more raw vegetables and raw vegetable smoothies.
Try to avoid certain foods that may cause digestive problems. That includes greasy, fatty, refined and processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, sodas, cola drinks and any carbonated beverages. Avoid, or significantly reduce, acidic foods (meat, cheese, chocolate, etc.), foods containing lactose (milk and dairy), and products containing spirit vinegar.
Replace dairy with plant-based substitutes (organic Tofu, vegan yoghurts, plant-based milk substitutes, vegan cheese based on coconut oil, etc.)
Increase intake of healthy fats such as raw coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, chia seeds, and ground flaxseed. They will help reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
Avoid gluten (especially wheat products) if you suffer from gluten sensitivity.
Use mild spices such as marjoram, fennel, cumin, and oregano to improve digestion.
Chew your food properly.
Eat slowly with your mouth closed (avoid swallowing air).
Don’t lie down after meals. Light physical activity such as walking is most beneficial after meals.
Avoid overeating or feeling full after meals.
Don’t eat between meals.
Don’t eat within five to not less than four hours of bedtime.
Avoid imposing pressure on your stomach with tight underwear or clothes.
Never drink water or other liquids with meals (except occasionally ½ glass of juice).
Three times a day drink 2-3 glasses of clean 4water 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after meals.
Supplements to support gastrointestinal health
Digestive enzymes (such as Digeston Max or Digeston Plus) are absolutely crucial for proper digestion and the unlocking of nutrients. They aid digestion and absorption of nutrients and help to regulate body weight and metabolism. Amylase is required to digest carbohydrates into simple sugars such as glucose, Protease breaks down protein into amino acids, and Lipase is in charge of fat break down. Lactase enzyme brings relief to people suffering from lactose intolerance. Digeston Max and Plus are also fortified with the most important types of friendly bacteria to farther improve digestion and gut health.
Activated Charcoal (such as Gastone capsules) is an NHS-approved natural and safe remedy commonly used to relieve various gastrointestinal problems associated with hyperacidity, indigestion, diarrhoea, and flatulence. It helps absorb and neutralise gas created by indigestion and food fermentation in the stomach and intestinal tract.
Well-absorbed magnesium, such as Magnesium Citrate Powder, helps relax stomach muscles and intestines. For this reason, it can be an excellent aid for stomach cramps, IBS and spastic colon. Take pure Magnesium citrate powder (free from additives) 2 times a day 200-400mg (half to one teaspoon) 1 hour before a meal and 1-2 hours before bed. Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative. It relaxes the bowels and pulls water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up the stool, which makes it easier to pass. Magnesium is also required for the production of serotonin, which apart from being a happy hormone regulates motility of the colon, thus preventing constipation.
Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa) supports digestion and helps decrease digestive problems including gas, gastric ulcers, stomach pain, bloating, and inflammatory bowel conditions (3, 4). Black seed oil is often recommended and successfully used for intestinal parasites especially when combined with other natural remedies such as Wormwood. Nigella sativa oil was found to be effective in overcoming the Helicobacter pylori infections, known to contribute to stomach ulcers. It also helps fight Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract.
Recommended supplements with Probiotics
Probiotic formulas help increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and can be very beneficial in dealing with various intestinal problems including gas, bloating, lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhoea, IBS or colitis.
UltraProbio, ColiProbio and DailyProbio help replenish the body’s good bacteria and maintain the ideal balance and optimum health. They contain live, acid and bile resistant strains; to ensure that the bacteria are not harmed by the acids of the stomach. They are fortified with a prebiotic (FOS), which helps stimulate the function and growth of the probiotics ensuring a greater action in the body.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: 7 Signs You May Have It - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- A Review of Medicinal Uses and Pharmacological Activities of Nigella sativa (docsdrive.com)
- Thymoquinone prevents and ameliorates dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice - PubMed (nih.gov)
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Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.