Boost Your Digestive Health
Digestive problems can make you miserable, and sometimes the symptoms — burping, gas, or constant trips to the bathroom — can be embarrassing. Many digestive diseases can be prevented or better managed by paying careful attention to diet and lifestyle.
To feel your best, manage symptoms, and keep your digestive tract in top shape, follow these tips.
Serve Up Fiber – A diet high in fiber can help prevent colon cancer and constipation as well as help in the management of diverticulosis. Some patients who suffer from digestive issues such as inflammatory bowel disease may need to decrease fiber or only eat certain types of fiber during a flare up of symptoms; however, overall fiber can help regulate digestive functions.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. After age 50, daily fiber needs drop to 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.
High-fiber foods include whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers; berries; fruit; vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, carrots, asparagus, squash, and beans; brown rice; bran products; and cooked dried peas and beans, among other foods.
Give Up Smoking – We’ve all heard how smoking causes lung cancer and heart attacks, but smokers are also 18 percent more likely than nonsmokers to develop colorectal cancer. Smoking can raise your risk for other digestive diseases as well, including heartburn, peptic ulcers, and Crohn’s disease.
Skip the Red Meat – A number of studies have linked consuming red meat with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Diets heavy in processed, smoked, or cured meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs also contribute to colorectal cancer risks. If you love a steak or crave bacon, try to limiting red or processed meats to twice a week.
Fill Up Your Water Glass – Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day can help prevent diverticular disease, constipation, and other digestive ills. Water helps maintain the balance of body fluids, which play a large role in the digestive process.
How Family History Impacts Digestive Health
Many GI diseases run in the family, including ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. Up to 20 percent of colorectal cancer patients have a relative with the disease. Having a family member with ulcerative colitis increases your risk of developing the disease.
If you have family members with GI diseases, talk with your physician to determine if you need screenings earlier or more often than the recommended guidelines.
Need A Digestive Specialist?
If you haven’t been able to manage your symptoms with diet and lifestyle measures, you may need the help of a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. You should also see a physician if you have a change in bowel habits, blood in your stool, unexplained weight loss, or continued abdominal pain.
Our team of gastroenterologists at LeBauer HealthCare offers screening and treatment for a wide variety of digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease, reflux, ulcers, colon cancer, and more. Learn more about our services, including the LeBauer Endoscopy Center, and make an appointment by calling 336-547-1745.