Suffering from digestive problems can be one of the most confusing and exhausting physical ailments you may ever experience. Cramping, constipation and untimely trips to the bathroom can literally take away your ability to live a fully satisfied life. Luckily, scientists are continuing to find ways to use natural ingredients such as probiotics and fiber to address those problems.
Why are Digestive Problems Such a Problem?
Digestive problems might not be so bad if you could undergo a few tests to determine the exact problem, and then figure out the best way to address it. However, it is often very difficult to tell what specifically is causing your digestive woes. Could it be the Chinese take-out you had two nights ago, or that sandwich you ate at midnight? Could it be that you are just under a great deal of stress? Do you have a viral infection that is turning your stomach upside down?
Your doctor can run some helpful tests, but the truth is that no one truly knows everything about what causes digestive problems and even a disorder like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Unfortunately, doctors often prescribe prescription or over-the-counter medications as a “blanket” approach to treatment, which may or may not address your problem. Unfortunately such medications run the risk of side effects, putting you in more misery than where you started.
To understand the digestive system, you need to know that many things can influence how well your digestive system functions. Your digestive system is made up of many chemical reactions that essentially break down your food and provide you with nourishment. There are “good” bacteria in your stomach that help you break down this food, as well as chemicals produced by your liver that help break down fat. If these processes are hindered then it can throw your system off track and cause you any number of problems.
Probiotics have been a popular option lately for addressing digestive woes. Probiotics are essentially more of the good bacteria that already reside in your digestive tract. Adding probiotics to your diet—via a food source such as yogurt, or dietary supplements—will help your digestive tract stay balanced.
Fiber helps in a different way. Fiber is basically the indigestible strands of “threads” that are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. As the food you eat travels through your digestive system, it essentially turns into liquid form. By the time that it reaches the end of its journey, the fiber in your system will help the food reform into a solid but soft stool that can be passed easily. A lack of fiber can cause both constipation and diarrhea. By getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet each day (not too little, not too much), you can help regulate the process and hopefully avoid any added stress on your digestive system.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider which one of these would be the best for you (or maybe both!). Start out with a cup of yogurt per day (with added probiotics) and see how it works for you. Likewise, fiber can be added simply by eating more fruits and vegetables, and even by consuming things like oatmeal or whole-grain toast.
Adding more fiber and probiotics are both very cost effective and simple ways to help soothe your digestive woes. Adding one of both of these to your diet in the proper amounts—along with plenty of water—should help to get your digestive system back in balance.
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Scott Denny, PhD, AP, DOM, FAAIM
Integrative Hospital Associates
2215 S. University Dr.
Davie, FL 33324
Integrative Hospital Associates
2020 NE 48th Ct.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308