What is Digestion?
Digestion is defined as breaking down food particles mechanically and chemically to make it much easier for absorption into the blood. From a biomedical point of view; digestion is breaking large food particles into smaller ones; this is catabolism.
What are the Digestive Problems?
Digestive system has many functions but the major one is absorption of nutrients; nutrients come from eaten food, they include proteins, vitamins, and fats.
Basically digestive problems are any abnormal changes in the process of digestion and absorption via the digestive system.
Digestive problems are widely spread problems; almost 50% of people in US complain from one sign or symptom that is related to a digestive problem anytime in their life.
Many digestive conditions are included in the term digestive problems; starting from indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer.
What Causes Digestive Problems?
Many factors may contribute to the digestive problems etiology; following are the most important:
- Stress: Any type of stress can cause digestive problems; physical stress, mental stress, and emotional stress
- Antibiotics: Misuse of antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria in the colon leading to accumulation of harmful species in it
- Processed Food Diet: Consumption of high amount of processed food and refined carbohydrates can lead to indigestion and many other digestive problems.
- Low Fiber Diet: Fibers are very important in the process of digestion especially in the colon. Its lack will result in chronic constipation
- Low-raw Food Diet: Row foods are essential in supplying our digestive system with food enzymes; over cooking of food will result in destruction of those enzymes
- Allergy to food
- Consumption of high amount of junk foods which have high calories content but no nutritional value
- Eating too fast without proper chewing may cause indigestion as the digestive system will find it difficult to digest large particles
- Fruits should not be eaten with other foods as they needs more time to be digested
- Drugs: Almost all types of drugs can cause damage to the digestive system especially when overused or misused
- Consumption of alcohol causes difficulty in digestion
- Overconsumption of caffeine can cause irritation of the stomach lining
- Smoking and drug addiction can cause many digestive problems
- Environmental toxic substances: Such as mercury, food additives, chemicals and many others
- Family history of digestive problems
How Is Digestive Problem Treated?
Treating digestive problems depend mainly on the underlying cause; controlling the cause will control the problem. For example, excessive stress that causes indigestion should be treated with adopting some healthy tips to control your stress level; such as, practicing yoga, this will solve your digestive problem as well. Eating healthy diet is very essential in treating digestive problems; it is a very good idea to consult a specialist to arrange you a balanced diet plan in order to treat* your digestive problem.
What are the Components?
The digestive system consists of different components; starting from the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and anus. Each component has specific role in the process of digestion; any defect in any part of these digestive components will result in defect in the process of digestion.
Symptoms for Digestive Problems
Many uncomfortable symptoms can be caused by digestive problems. If those symptoms are not treated, they will become more and more severe. Following are some of the most common symptoms of digestive problems:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Distention of the abdomen
- Gases in the abdomen
- Heart burn
- Discomfort in the abdomen
What the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is Saying about Digestion Problems?
Depending on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the following symptoms are considered red flags symptoms for digestive diseases than necessitate immediate medical consultation:
- Persistent heartburn
- Severe heartburn; you can sleep in night
- Persistent pain in the abdomen
- Changes in the frequent abdominal pain
- Your symptoms affect your daily lifestyle
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain with swallowing
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody stools
- Black tarry stools
- Unintentional weight loss*
- Sensation of a mass sticking in the throat
- Persistent sore throat
- Change in voice
- Persistent diarrhea
- Persistent constipation
- Frequent choking
Is Prevention Possible?
The answer is yes. Adopting healthy lifestyle with balanced diet and daily physical activity will prevent different digestive problems. Avoiding processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco is essential in preventing digestive problems. Having regular exercises is important as well. Taking medications as recommended by the doctor especially antibiotics is very effective way to prevent the bad influence of these medications on the colon health.