OK. I know what you are all thinking. But, I'm not here to give you all of my juicy gossip (LOL @ me because I have none). Today, I'll be touching a very awkward but also very real subject, that involves shit... literally. Most of us don’t like to bring up this subject, but believe or not, I get questions regarding digestions issues ALL the time (poop, burps and farts are natural, okay guys). Digestion is directly related to our thoughts and everything we put into our bodies. So I thought that today I could discuss why we get digestive distress and how to help. From cramping, to bloating, to stomach aches – we will cover it.
First off, we all know how it feels to get bloated or to suffer from stomach pains. There could be many reasons for that. A good way to control this is to find it’s cause. Often, the root of the problem isn’t as far as we think and there are many ways to help.
Are You Drinking enough water?
This is probably one of main reasons why we feel digestive discomfort and is certainly one of the most effective ways to cure digestive issues. Not drinking enough water can dehydrate you and cause constipation or discomfort.
Water does not only helps us keep well hydrated - it also allows for a better current in electrolytes (Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium) which aids in muscle contraction (therefore, better digestion).
Stress has a major impact on our digestive system - I’m sure that I’m not teaching you anything new when I say this. The brain interacts through the enteric nervous system (and with many other major systems/organs for that matter) in response to stress which can have a big impact on our digestion. For some, this may be slowing down the digestive transit and for others speeding it up. Either way, this is totally normal.
Try releasing stress by giving yourself a little TLC. Massaging your belly and placing a warm pad may help relieve symptoms. Give yourself a nice long bath, do mediation, yoga or exercise - whatever makes your little heart happy. Reducing stress should be a great help to regulate digestion.
Are You Eating Enough Fibre?
Going into the nutrition side of things, you may be missing out on some essential nutrients. A daily fibre intake of 25-30g/day with sufficient water intake should help regulate digestion. Fibre can be found in most fruits, vegetables, beans/lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. These food groups promote a healthy gut and helps with movement.
However, if you are not drinking enough water, eating too much fibre can actually create build up in your digestive tract. Make sure you are having enough water throughout the day if you are increasing your fibre intake.
What About Exercise?
In today's world, most people spend their work days sitting at a desk or in front of a screen. This makes for a very sedentary lifestyle if you aren't very active to begin with. As some of you may know, sitting down and not moving for most of the day can actually slow down muscle contraction of our intestines, therefore making it hard for our digestive tract to transit everything through. It's important to keep a regular active schedule to keep everything running smoothly.
Eating Too Much, Too Fast
Eating too much at once, 99.9% of the time, creates discomfort. Cut your body some slack and slow things down. I know you want to gulp down that 12 inch pizza in 5 minutes, but your body can’t handle all of that coming at him at once (I was once the guy on the right - trust me when I say it didn’t turn out well).
Try to eat mindfully and enjoy every bite. This way you are helping your body process the food at it’s own pace and utilise it properly. This can also help make you feel fuller faster, therefore preventing further binging.
Types of Food
Certain types of food tend to create bloating in the digestive tract. This doesn’t necessary mean that these foods are bad for you - you may just not be used to them. Fibre for example can increase bloating if you are not used to having them in your diet. I suggest increasing fibre progressively if your body isn’t used to it. Foods like cabbage, onions, broccoli, beans/lentils can increase bloating, but are still very good for your health - it’s just important to have them in moderation (like anything else).
That being said, everyone is different and digests differently. Some people may feel they are intolerant to certain foods and they may be right. If you think that you may have a food intolerance make sure to discuss it with your family physician or a dietitian.
Too Much Junk Food
Eating too much junk food can cause a good ol' number on your digestive system. Fatty foods, like deep fried foods, sauces and heavy creams are harder to digest than fruits and veggies, for example. So it’s better to take it easy on these for better digestion.
You've Had One Too Many Coffees
Coffee acts as a diuretic, which basically means that it helps you eliminate water from your system. In some cases this can cause cramping and even diarrhea if you aren’t used to it. Drinking too much coffee can also increases the risk of dehydration if you don’t have enough water to compensate. In some cases, caffeine can increase stomach acid which can also irritate the inside lining of the digestive tract and therefore cause cramping or diarrhea.
Like any other substance abuse, caffeine can have negative outcomes - I’d suggest sticking to moderate intakes. One to two cups of coffee per day should be sufficient for an adult.
Partied a Little Too Hard Last Night?
You know when you wake up hungover as f**** and the first thing you have to do is rush to the bathroom? Yeah. Me neither…. Having too much alcohol can create serious damage to the lining of our digestive tract.
If you are having a night out drinking, make sure you are sticking within your limits. Your body will thank you the next day if you rightfully do so.
Your On Your Period
This one is for all my ladies (insert Beyonce lyrics here). Our hormones can bring us wonderful things, but they also include imbalances in our system, therefore causing many symptoms (both physical and emotional - ya feel me?). Digestive distress is totally normal and very common before/during your period - so don't worry. Place a warm pad on your belly for comfort and give your body some rest.
To finalize, the best thing you can do is listen to your body. If you nurture your body the right way - everything should balance itself out. Hopefully this has been helpful to you.
Until next time my lovelies!