Could digestive issues be the cause of your tummy troubles? Your digestive heath is important, so find out more about common digestive problems and ways to prevent and treat them here.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Per the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects 5 million Canadians. Symptoms include bloating, gas, changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation, sometimes alternating between both) and abdominal pain. While there isn’t a cure, symptoms may be reduced by making changes to your diet.
- Use a food diary to identify foods that seem to exacerbate the condition. Consider limiting or avoiding them if they cause digestive problems. Common problem foods include fatty meats and dairy products, fried food and gas-producing foods, such as prunes, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
- Symptoms can also be managed by slowly increasing the amount of fibre in your diet with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
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Constipation doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to all people but can generally be described as having difficult or less-frequent bowel movements. This irregularity can be uncomfortable and cause bloating and gas. Several things can be done to prevent and treat constipation.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts to help get things moving.
- Add All-Bran cereal and bars with natural wheat bran to your daily diet. Wheat bran is considered the “gold standard” for promoting regularity, and All-Bran cereal and bars contain wheat bran as the main source of fibre.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Drink plenty of water. Eight glasses per day is commonly recommended.
Diarrhea can be characterized by loose and watery stools. Other symptoms may include cramping, bloating, a sudden urge to have a bowel movement and nausea. Diarrhea itself can be a symptom of IBS, and there can be a number of causes, but a couple of things can be done to help treat this digestive issue.
- Keep up your fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- Continue to eat small, light meals. Avoid heavy or fatty foods until the bout of diarrhea is over.
- If necessary, take an over-the-counter medication to alleviate the symptoms.
- As with any medical or digestive issue, see your health care provider if the symptoms persist.
Intestinal gas is natural, but an excess can cause uncomfortable symptoms that include belching, flatulence, abdominal pain and bloating. If you suffer from excess gas, then making a few changes might help relieve your symptoms.
- Avoid swallowing air. Eating or drinking too fast, chewing gum, smoking and drinking carbonated beverages can all contribute to excess air in your system.
- Watch your diet. Having food intolerances or consuming hard-to-digest or gassy foods can cause gas.
- Get regular exercise, as this will help move gas through your system.
- Include high-fibre foods in your diet to promote regularity and better health. Gradually increase the amount of fibre in your diet so your body can get accustomed to the change. Simultaneously increase water intake to help the fibre do its job.
Bloating is caused by a buildup of gas, and symptoms can include the feeling of increased abdominal pressure, discomfort and, in some cases, the sensation or appearance of a swollen belly.
- Prevention and treatment options are generally the same as with gas.
- An over-the-counter medicine for gas and bloating might provide temporary relief.