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Digestive System: All the Things You Need to Know

What Ailments Affect the Digestive System?|Symptoms to Watch Out for|Causes and Risk Factors|Taking Care of Your Digestive System
Digestive System: All the Things You Need to Know

Our digestive system is one of the most important systems of our body. This is because most of the essential nutrients that our body needs, we get from the food we eat.

What is Digestive Health?

Digestive health is the measure of how healthy a person’s digestive system is. Having good digestive health means that all of the organs related to digestion, such as the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, as well as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, etc. all have to be in good shape.

If our digestive system is not functioning as it should, then it can impact how we break down and absorb nutrients from food. This is why malnutrition and sudden weight loss are usually signs that there is something wrong with a person’s digestive well-being.

It’s also common for people with digestive problems to feel pain around their abdomen, or suffer from conditions such as diarrhea or constipation.

Interesting Digestive System Facts You Should Know

 

What Ailments Affect the Digestive System?

Here are some common ailments that affect a person’s digestive health:

While some of these conditions usually go away over time or don’t need any specialized treatment, it would be best to see a doctor if it becomes a recurring issue. It’s possible for some of these ailments to cause more serious complications.

Symptoms to Watch Out for

Here are some symptoms to watch out for when it comes to ailments that affect the digestive system:

  • Chronic or persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach aches or pain in the abdomen
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Feeling tired or fatigued without any reason
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Pain when passing stool
  • Blood in your stool
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Burning sensation in the chest
  • Pain or tightness in the chest

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it would be best to consult your doctor.

Causes and Risk Factors

Ailments of the digestive system can be caused by a number of things, such as the following:

Diet

The food we eat plays a big role in how healthy our digestive system and our body is. Eating processed foods, fatty foods, as well as foods high in sugar and sodium can cause digestive problems.

Having too little fiber in the diet can also cause problems such as constipation or even appendicitis.

It’s also possible for foods to become triggers for other conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. So it is important to watch what you eat, and pay attention to how different foods affect your body.

Lifestyle

A person’s lifestyle can also affect their digestive health. Being sedentary, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking are just some of the things that can affect the digestive system. Having a healthy lifestyle translates directly to a healthier digestive system.

Family history

For certain ailments, such as inflammatory bowel disease, having a family history can increase a person’s risk. It would be best to find out what ailments are common in your family, and take steps to lower your risk for those problems as soon as you can.

Mental health

Lastly, a person’s mental health can also affect the digestive system. In particular, irritable bowel syndrome can sometimes be triggered by depression, anxiety, and stress. So it is important to not neglect your mental health and to seek medical intervention.

Taking Care of Your Digestive System

Here are some things that you can do to care for your digestive system:

  • Eat foods high in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate. Sometimes, when people have increased fiber intake but don’t drink enough fluids, they might experience harder stool and tummy pain.
  • Eat less fatty foods, processed foods, and foods high in sugar and sodium.
  • Engage in exercise for at least 30 minutes each day or 150 minutes each week.
  • Have some time to yourself so that you can relax, unwind, and destress.
  • If you feel anything out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your digestive health remains in top condition.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Digestive Health – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/digestive-health, Accessed December 18, 2020

Digestive system explained – Better Health Channel, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/digestive-system, Accessed December 18, 2020

Your Digestive System: 5 Ways to Support Gut Health | Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/your-digestive-system-5-ways-to-support-gut-health, Accessed December 18, 2020

Gastroenterological Society of Australia, https://www.gesa.org.au/resources/patients/maintaining-a-healthy-digestive-system/, Accessed December 18, 2020

Digestive diseases: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007447.htm, Accessed December 18, 2020

Structure & Function of the Digestive System: How it works, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7041-the-structure-and-function-of-the-digestive-system, Accessed December 18, 2020

Your Gut Feeling: A Healthier Digestive System Means a Healthier You | Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, https://med.nyu.edu/medicine/gastro/about-us/Gastroenterology-news-archive/your-gut-feeling-healthier-digestive-system-means-healthier, Accessed December 18, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 25
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.
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