Thursday, November 20, 2008

Helping Your Digestive System Naturally

We all occasionally suffer from heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach cramp or pain. Some people have a more severe problem than others. Do you know that The American Gastroenterological Association stated that nearly 30% of Americans have gastrointestinal illness a year?

I am a part of this 30%! I suffer terrible acid reflux, so much so that I can't consume any oranges, orange juice, coffee, soda, and a whole lot more! I dislike taking pills, so I find different alternatives to deal with this problem.

Medications and Supplements Can Have Side Effects

Medications and supplements can have side effects. Sometimes, the side effects are worse than the main illness, at least for me.
  • Calcium commonly can cause constipation
  • Magnesium and vitamin C can cause loose stool, and diarrhea
  • Iron can cause nausea, constipation and dark stool
  • A certain vitamin B can cause nausea
Ask your doctor about the medications you are currently taking for their side effects. Pay closer attention to the medications and supplements will help you to know which ones to avoid.

Change Your Diet

Image by Chant

According to The National Institutes of Health, nearly 30 million to 50 million Americans are lactose-intolerant. You can find lactose in milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. The most common complains are diarrhea or constipation.

Lactose-intolerance have different effect in ethnic groups. As many as 90% Asian-Americans, 80% Native Americans and African-American can't tolerate lactose. If this is a problem, you can cut out dairy to see if your condition improve.

Change Your Habits
  • Eat smaller portion
  • Take time with your meal and chew well
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods, and fried foods
  • Avoid eating right before bedtime
  • Give your stomach time for digestion
Eat High Fiber Foods

Image by Mr. T. in DC

If you are not used to eating fiber, start slowly. The idea is to add fiber into your daily meal until you reach 25 grams a day. Making the switch to whole wheat take a little time to get used to, so be patience if you have small children.
  • High fiber breakfast cereal
  • Whole wheat bread, crackers, and pasta
  • Whole oats
  • Brown rice
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Peas
  • Lentils
Knowing what to eat and drink can help you to handle the digestive problem. I still have acid reflux, but it is only worse when I am not watching what I am consuming. Cutting out on citrus drinks help big time for me.



  1. Dairy is my culprit. I am not lactose intolerant but when I stop for awhile - I NO longer feel bloated and I actually lose weight!

  2. Hi Teresa,
    Dairy has different effect on people, some people even get constipated when consuming dairy products! Thanks for visiting!


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Pragmatic Soul
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