Common Digestive Problems
If you were going to build a house you would most definitely want to start with making sure the foundations are deep and strong. Without good foundations you can be sure that whatever is built will not survive for very long, especially in harsh environmental conditions, no matter how amazing the building looks on the surface.
This principle is pretty much true when it comes to your body. If you want to be healthy, one of the first places you should start is with your digestive system.
As part of my clinical practice I see all sorts of people from athletes and fitness enthusiasts to stressed office workers who spend 12 hours a day working. But one thing that has become very clear to me lately is that no matter what their profession, age, gender or lifestyle habits, is seems that a huge majority of people have some sort of digestive issue. These issues can range from excess or foul smelling gas, bloating, constipation through to full blown Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis or Chron’s Disease.
Are you one of these people who suffers from digestive problems?
Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms;
- Nausea or Vomiting?
- Belching/Passing Gas?
- Heartburn/Acid Reflux?
- Intestinal/Stomach Pain?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above then the chances are that you have a digestive system that need some attention.
Diarrhoea is your body’s way of removing something it doesn’t like in the fastest ways possible (aside from vomiting). It is a good indication that something you are eating, drinking or doing isn’t right for your body.
For some people, diarrhoea is such a frequent occurrence that they think that is normal for them. It’s not normal!
The temptation is to block yourself up with constipating drugs such as Immodium, which is certainly understandable if on that day you have to go places and do things, however this is not a long term solution.
Generally, the solution to frequent diarrhoea is simple;
- Take note of what foods and drinks you are consuming and pay attention to when you have your diarrhoea. Try an elimination diet cutting out the common triggers such as wheat, dairy, eggs, and supplements.
- Try following the 4 R’s Gut Healing Programme (detailed in the post Fix Your Gut For a Flat Stomach).
- If problems persist, speak to us as we will most likely be able to help you.
I have seen so many clients who think it is normal have bowel movements every two or three days; especially if that’s what they’ve been doing for years. Well let me say right now that unless you’re passing stool EVERY DAY then you are constipated!
Constipation occurs when the stool stays in the colon for too long. One of the roles of the colon is to reabsorb water from the stool to help maintain hydration in the body. If the stool is in the colon for too long it becomes hard and dry, making it more difficult for the muscles of the rectum to push it out of the body.
Passing stools is one of the ways your body gets rid of its waste products. The longer this waste is inside you the more it will start releasing toxins back into your body which you clearly don’t want. Imagine every time you change a bin inside your house, rather than taking it outside to the main bin you keep it in your hallway. Over time the bags will stack up more and more and I’m sure the smell will start making the rest of the house pretty unpleasant! Of course you could use air fresheners, but until you actually remove the bins from the house the problem will persist.
Constipation can cause abdominal discomfort, pain when trying to pass stool and even bleeding. Other problems with constipation can include headaches (due to the toxic build up) and decreased appetite.
There are many causes of constipation, some are listed below;
- Diets low in fiber
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medications or supplements (such as strong painkillers or calcium supplements for example)
- Life changes or daily routine changes
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- Neurological and metabolic disorders
- Certain personality types are more prone, such at Type A personalities (workaholics/those who like to be in control of everything).
To help your constipation there are some simple things you can do;
- Drink more water, herbal teas and soups to increase your overall hydration of the body.
- Add more fibrous foods such as green vegetables into your diet.
- Check that any medication you are on doesn’t have constipation as a side effect.
- If these tips don’t help then speak to us and we will be able to investigate further.
Gas and Bloating
No matter how hard you try to pull your stomach in you still have the feeling that you look like you’re pregnant, or you feel like there’s a balloon inside you just waiting to burst! Bloating is uncomfortable and doesn’t help anyone’s self confidence.
Bloating is caused by a build up of gasses in the digestive tract, usually because you have an imbalance of bad bacteria to good bacteria (more bad than good!). When you eat foods that feed the bad bacteria, one of their waste products is gas!
This gasseous byproduct is also likely to be accompanied by inflammation in the gut too. Inflammation will irritate the nerves supplying the muscles of your abdomen which will essentially “turn them off”. This means that you will find it harder and harder to keep your stomach muscles tight!
Again, much like with the other digestive issues you need to find the triggers to your bloating. Are there any particular foods or liquids that make you more bloated? Have you been tested for an imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria?
Here are a few tips to help with your bloating;
- Avoid sugar at all costs!
- Try an elimination diet where you avoid all possible irritants, especially wheat and other grains and products made from those.
- Discuss with your healthcare practitioner about taking some probiotics (the good bacteria).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It is estimated that between 10-20% of the UK population suffer from IBS, although this number may actually be higher as many people may not report their symptoms to their GP.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem that can consist of bouts of stomach pain, stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
IBS affects women twice as much as it does men and is often aggravated by stress as well as certain trigger foods.
Tips for helping with IBS;
- Avoid trigger foods (see above or check out Fix Your Digestion For A Flat Stomach
- Try taking some peppermint oil supplements to help sooth the digestive system (please note this is not treating the issue, this is just helping to manage the symptoms)
- Find a way to manage your stress or find ways to cope with your stress.
- Speak to us to get more personalised treatments.
Did you know that one of the most frequently bought over the counter medications is anti-acids? According to the NHS 1 in 5 people experience some form of Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) symptoms every week, with 1 in 10 experiencing it daily. Symptoms include heartburn and acid reflux. That’s a lot of people!!
Many people are also on a drug called Omeprazole which is a PPI, or Proton Pump Inhibitor; it is to reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
Conventional theory is that the stomach is producing too much stomach acid which causes some to leak through the lower oesophageal sphincter causing an irritation of the oesophageal lining which then causes that pain you feel in your chest or lower throat. On occasions there may be a weakness of the oesophageal sphincter, predisposed by pregnancy or obesity.
I actually disagree with the TOO MUCH acid theory, and therefore the anti-acid and PPI approach.
New research suggests that the issue is actually TOO LITTLE stomach acid being produced. If there is insufficient stomach acid being produced the food in the stomach will take longer to be digested and therefore sit in the stomach for way too long. This will later lead to the food fermenting and becoming putrid and gasses being produced. These putrid gasses are what may actually irritate the sphincter or lining of the oesophagus.
Symptoms may be aggravated by laying flat, so sleeping with the chest slightly raised may help you to sleep better through the night.
The good news is that changes to dietary and lifestyle habits, along with some digestive support supplements in most cases will resolve the issue.
Digestive issues are very common in the UK and worldwide. They can be the cause of much emotional stress and anxiety as well as physical pain and discomfort.
The good news for most digestive issues is that they can usually be improved or resolved through specific nutrition, lifestyle or supplementation under the guidance of a good healthcare practitioner.
If you are currently suffering with some digestive issues and you would like some advice on what step you should take next then please do feel free to call us today!
How can we at Ashley James Health help you?
Our osteopath/ naturopath will thoroughly assess you, taking into consideration your lifestyle, causing factors, predisposing factors and maintaining factors to build up a picture of the exact problem.
Our aim will be to give you a complete package of information and treatment specific to you to get you from the state you are in now to optimal digestive function and comfort.
One thing you can be sure of is that we will do everything we can to get you better as soon as we can! So why don’t you give us a call on 0208 445 1020 or
About The Author
Ashley Ridout has worked with many people of all ages to help them overcome the burden of their digestive issues by using nutrition and lifestyle modifications as well as diagnostic lab testing to get to the root cause of their problems.
Ashley qualified as a Naturopathic Osteopath and later went on to study Functional Medicine in order to help get to the root cause of many “undiagnosable” issues.