Gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, can be due to many causes.
This can include anything from your diet to a serious disease. Fortunately, in many cases, lifestyle factors are to blame for stomach troubles.
Causes of Common GI Problems
GI problems can develop because of a viral or bacterial infection, or even a parasite can cause these issues. Certain diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and colitis, can lead to intestinal problems. But many GI symptoms may be due to by other factors including:
Poor diet: If you have intestinal problems, such as gas or heartburn, it may be due to your diet. For example, eating spicy or greasy foods can lead to heartburn. Food and drinks high in artificial sweeteners can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Too much caffeine can also have a laxative effect.
Food sensitivities: Food allergies or sensitivities are often to blame for common GI symptoms. Food allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a harmless food that your body views as dangerous. The immune system reacts and sets off a response that can lead to nausea, vomiting, and/or hives. Food sensitives can occur if your body has trouble breaking down the components in the food. For example, lactose intolerance develops when you cannot break down milk sugars.
Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors can also play a role in common stomach problems. Smoking, stress, and eating too fast can all contribute to GI problems. For example, stress and anxiety can cause anything from stomach aches to diarrhea. Eating too fast can lead to gas and bloating.
Conventional Treatments for Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Treatment for GI symptoms will often depend on the underlying problem. For example, irritable bowel syndrome may respond to lifestyle changes. In instances of severe gastrointestinal problems, surgery may be needed to remove or repair a section of the intestine.
In many cases, medication may be recommended to decrease symptoms. For example, antacids may help reduce heartburn. Medication is also available to treat constipation and diarrhea.
Natural Remedies and How They Help
Natural remedies for gastrointestinal symptoms are often highly effective. In some cases, natural remedies don’t just mask symptoms. Instead, they correct the underlying issue that causes stomach trouble. A combination of natural remedies may be the most effective way to treat stomach issues and prevent problems from reoccurring.
One of the best things you can do for your gastrointestinal health is to eat a healthy diet. Nutritional counseling can be very beneficial in getting you on the right track. A nutritional counselor can help with eliminating foods you may be sensitive to while still making sure you get the proper nutrients. Dietary changes may include eliminating foods that are common causes of GI complaints. Keep in mind: it’s not just the foods you eat, but how you eat them that may cause intestinal issues. Make sure you chew your food well and eat slowly to decrease the chances of stomach problems.
Supplements and Herbal Remedies
Supplements and herbal remedies have been used for many years to treat stomach problems. Before taking any herbal remedies or supplements, it’s always best to talk with your healthcare provider. Some herbal remedies can interfere with medications. Supplements and herbs that may help gastrointestinal problems include the following:
Probiotics: Probiotics are a popular supplement to keep your digestive tract healthy. Probiotics contain good strains of bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Foods that contain probiotics include Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and buttermilk. Probiotics can also be taken as a supplement.
Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar may be helpful to keep your digestive system working efficiently. Although vinegar is acidic, it has an alkalizing effect on your digestive system. It can decrease GI problems, such as heartburn, gas, and indigestion.
Ginger: Ginger has been used for hundreds of years to treat digestive problems, such as nausea. It is often an ingredient in candies and lozenges to treat morning sickness. Ginger may help stomach problems by stimulating digestive juices and improving the flow of enzymes that aid in digestion. Ginger can be added to tea or taken as a supplement.
Slippery Elm: Slippery elm contains a substance that coats the esophagus. It can be helpful to treat heartburn and indigestion. It’s available as a capsule, tea, or lozenge.
Peppermint: Peppermint has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic benefits that can help decrease common stomach problems, such as gas, bloating, and cramps. It can also speed up healing, which may help if GI problems are due to an infection. Peppermint leaves can be added to dishes or used in a tea. Peppermint capsules are another option.
Stress Management Techniques
Learning stress reduction techniques is beneficial for your overall well-being, including gastrointestinal problems. Keeping stress in check may help decrease stomach aches, diarrhea, and heartburn.
There are many stress management techniques that can help you relax. For example, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can be effective for some people. Massage, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis may also work well. Consider trying different stress management techniques until you find something that helps you unwind. The best stress management technique is the one that you’ll stick with.