With all the “big words” used to describe stomach and gut ailments, it can be a little confusing. Things like gastrointestinal distress, heartburn, digestive problems, or an upset tummy all cover a lot of ground.The key here is understanding what is your “gut” trying to tell you.
Trust Your Gut
Trusting your gut begins with listening to what your body is telling you. Listening is the first part of any good communication. Trust me, if you listen, your body will tell you what it needs. Digestion goes through a long pathway inside our body and it begins with what we put into our mouth.
Some experts believe that your gut is like a second brain. This is because there are more neurotransmitters in the 20 feet of your gut than there are in your actual brain. So when you get those “butterflies” in your stomach or that “gut” feeling, it may be a legitimate connection between your mind and body. So when that little voice inside is speaking to you, listen!
Frequent abdominal stress is a sign that something needs to be addressed. This became so clear for us when my husband became ill last year. We spent far too much time ignoring what is “gut” was trying to tell us. Blaming it on stress or something fleeting that would fix itself.
There is hope though. Armed with the knowledge, willingness to make life changes, and advances in medical screenings and treatments, we have many options to keep our gut in good health. By taking this pledge you are promising yourself that you will listen to your body. Simple, right?
Our digestive system is a series of tubes and valves that lead to the stomach and then eventually through the organs so that we may “eliminate” what our bodies can not use. As we eat food, it travels to the stomach, where acids and other chemicals break it down further so that it can pass into the intestines. Key nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
All of the valves in the body, work to prevent things from going where they don’t belong. The valve at the top of the esophagus prevents food and drink from entering the lungs and the valve at the top of the stomach prevents food from coming back up. A weakness or inappropriate relaxing of this valve (also known as a sphincter) can cause frequent heartburn among other problems.
GERDS stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and is far more common than you might think. Many people experience a burning sensation in the upper abdomen after eating and just blame it on the food, calling it simply, heartburn.
Up, Out, and Away
Okay, so this is a slightly touchier subject but who here hasn’t had gas? As “grown-up” or “mature” as we like to think we are, the idea of passing gas can still cause us to giggle or even feel shame. The truth is, the average person produces one to three pints of “gas” daily. Gas is formed in the gut by the air that gets into our bodies as we eat, drink, and even talk. Not to mention the act of breaking down foods such as complex carbs.
If you are looking to reduce the amount of gas your bodies makes or help with bloating, you can watch for patterns in the foods you eat and avoid the ones that bloat you. You can also try to avoid foods that are very starchy (corn, potatoes, and wheat) as they are known to cause more gas production.
With things like GERDS, gas, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and cancers that are present throughout the gut, it is important to:
- Listen to your body (it knows when something is wrong)
- Make changes to your diet as needed to ease digestion
- Watch for patterns with what you eat (if it makes you feel ill, you shouldn’t eat it)
- Talk to your doctor if you notice something is quite right
- Understand that it may not be “just heartburn” (especially if you have it more than one or twice a month)
Roughly 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, take care of it.
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