What does poor digestion mean?
Annually about 70 million Americans are impacted by digestive system diseases. Signs of poor digestion include an upset stomach, extreme food cravings, food intolerance, and rollercoaster weight gain and weight loss.
Doctors know that stomach or gut health is essential to the body’s overall health. Your gut plays a part in all body systems, from your brain to your immune system. If your gut is unhealthy, many physical and mental issues can occur.
You may wonder, “how can I improve my digestive system.” To keep your digestive system healthy, listen to your body when it gives signs improvement is needed.
People who suffer from digestive issues are in good company. Annually about 70 million Americans are impacted by digestive system diseases. These can include indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Indigestion is a common sign of digestive issues. It describes discomfort in your abdomen and feeling immediately full after beginning to eat. It can be a symptom of numerous concerns. Everyone may experience indigestion differently. The symptoms can appear occasionally or even daily.
Numerous factors affect gut health. This includes body makeup, family history, and genetic history. These are things you cannot control, but there are factors you can influence, such as diet and stress. A healthy gut has a healthy balance of bacteria that help the body process food. A healthy gut can:
- Clear toxins
- Get energy from the foods you eat
- Boost your mood
- Fight against disease
When your gut is healthy, you will seldom encounter signs like constipation, gas, and bloating.
Is a healthy digestive system important?
A gut that is healthy means that the balance of microbes and bacteria is good throughout your GI tract. The beneficial microbes:
- Fight damaging bacteria and viruses
- Produce the brain chemical serotonin, which is a mood enhancer
- Eliminate damaging toxins
- Take nutrients from the food you eat and turn it into energy
What are GI signs of poor digestive health?
Many signs could mean your digestive system is unhealthy:
Upset stomach: Gas, pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and recurring heartburn could indicate that your GI system finds it difficult to process food and get rid of waste.
Extreme food cravings: Bad bacteria in your stomach can be caused by eating a lot of sugar. Large amounts of sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup, can cause body inflammation and increase the risk of other diseases.
Food intolerance: Poor bacterial quality can cause food intolerance. Food intolerance means it is hard for you to digest certain foods. Intolerance can lead to gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and pain in the stomach.
Rollercoaster weight gain or loss: If your gut is out of balance, it may be hard to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Gain or loss of weight could be a signal that there is an overgrowth of bacteria or nutrient loss.
How does poor digestive health affect the body?
Your GI system is not the only body system affected by an unhealthy gut:
Skin irritation: Gut-related issues can cause skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Repeated mood changes: Depression and anxiety can be caused by GI problems and nervous system inflammation.
Autoimmune issues: Bacteria in an unhealthy gut can trigger autoimmune problems like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid problems, and diabetes.
Fatigue: Chronic fatigue can be caused by gut imbalances. Research has shown that one-half of people with fatigue have IBS.
Migraines: There’s a connection between gut health and headaches. This is especially true if there is vomiting and nausea with migraines. People with recurrent headaches are found to have GI problems too.
Trouble sleeping: Insomnia can be caused by an unhealthy gut. Most of the serotonin in the body is produced in the gut. This affects sleep and moods. When there is inflammation and harmful bacteria in the gut, it can negatively influence sleep.
What eating habits can improve poor digestion?
Simple things can improve your gut health:
Decrease processed foods and sugar: Get your nutrients from lean proteins and plant-based foods. High-fiber diets promote a healthy gut.
Drink lots of water: Staying hydrated affects overall body health. Water helps with digestion.
Addition of probiotics: Probiotics help grow good bacteria in the gut. You can take vitamins, or eat natural food sources high in probiotics like
Get rid of food intolerances: You may have an intolerance to some foods if you frequently experience nausea, cramping, or acid reflux afterward. Get rid of these trigger foods from your diet altogether if you can.
Slow down: Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. This will help to digest your food fully and absorb all nutrients.
What other changes can improve poor digestion?
Other daily interventions can aid digestion:
Exercise regularly: Physical activity helps to improve healthy microbes in the body. It keeps bowel movements regular and prevents disease.
Get plenty of sleep: Good sleep helps to balance hormones. You should aim for 8 hours a night.
Reduce stress levels: People who often experience stress are more likely to have IBS. Management of stress can improve gut health.
Grocery shopping: Avoid aisles with processed foods in the center of the store. Stay in the lanes with fresh fruit and veggies.
Don’t smoke: Your digestive system is negatively affected by smoking. It can cause heartburn, liver problems, ulcers, and cancer. Try to quit as soon as possible if you have already started.
When should you go to the doctor about your poor digestion?
If you have any unhealthy gut symptoms, you should see a doctor. This can be during your annual physical or at a problem-focused visit specific to your indications. Mention your bowel habits, and mention any recurrent stomach issues. Speak about your pain rating, any recent changes, and future goals. Some GI symptoms can be resolved simply; others can be serious and ultimately affect your quality of life. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.
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Medically Reviewed on 5/10/2022
Frederick Health: “10 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut.”
Mayo Clinic: “Indigestion.”
Piedmont Healthcare: “Signs of poor gut health.”