The Greek physician Hippocrates is known for saying that all disease begins in the gut. It’s been over 2,500 years of human history that has passed since Hippocrates allegedly made this statement. However, his saying is as accurate today as it was then. You’ve probably heard a lot about the gut and the benefits of having a healthy microbiome. But what does that all mean?
The gut is a short term for the entire gastrointestinal tract, which begins with the mouth and continues through to the stomach and large and small intestines. Throughout the gut, good bacteria collectively called the microbiome are essential to proper digestion. But their role doesn’t stop there.
Research is just starting to reveal the extent the gut plays in other parts of the body. So far science has found that gut bacteria also play a part in regulating hormones, bolstering our immune system, and influencing brain chemicals and activity. Emerging evidence supports a possible gut-brain connection involving conditions such as autism, epilepsy and depression. So, what are some ways to protect our stomachs to make us less susceptible to disease or other medical issues?
The best way to protect your stomach is to be proactive about maintaining a healthy gut. There are approximately 70 million people in the United States suffering from some form of digestive disease. Although everyone experiences stomach problems from time to time, it is the constant stomach issues that may lead to gastrointestinal disease.
The most common problems that people with stomach problems experience include:
So, what are some good ways to protect your stomach and minimize or eliminate stomach problems? You probably heard this many times as a child, but it still rings true today: cut back on sugary foods. Too much sugar consumption imbalances gut microbes which not only affect your brain and behavior but also increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Aside from reducing sugar in your diet, another helpful activity to keep your gut healthy is to eat prebiotic fiber. You can take fiber supplements to increase your intake of prebiotic fiber. However, the more natural way to get prebiotic fiber in your diet is to eat foods that contain it. For instance, you can eat foods like asparagus, onions, bananas, chicory, garlic, or whole grains to increase your prebiotic fiber intake.
A few other ways to protect your stomach are getting proper rest, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding smoking. The most important thing you can do to maintain appropriate gut health is to reduce stress. This is a significant cause of many stomach problems, including gas, irritable bowels, nausea, and acid reflux. Another problem related to stress is ulcers. Although stress doesn’t cause ulcers, it can intensify the pain.
If you already suffer from stomach problems, you can still try to improve your gut health which will go a long way to help you heal naturally. However, you may need immediate stomach relief to help with stomach issues. One way to protect your stomach when you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is by incorporating probiotics into your diet. This will help you to improve good yeast and bacteria in your stomach. Yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kombucha, and pickles are a good source of probiotics.
Another way to protect your stomach is by using medication. For severe cases of IBS, doctors may prescribe drugs that can help with constipation or diarrhea. These medications do have side effects, however.
A few other ways to protect your stomach, especially if you suffer from IBS, are to change your behaviors. For instance, eating slower and cutting out distractions while you eat can minimize IBS triggers. Another thing you should do is minimize or eliminate gum chewing. When you chew gum, you also swallow air pockets which can lead to bloating. Gum also has titanium dioxide within it that can exacerbate digestive problems.
Sometimes you will need to take medication for health issues you may be experiencing. However, these medicines may become the source of stomach problems.
Here are a few medications that may cause problems with your stomach:
These medicines are designed to help you with other health issues but can cause problems with your stomach. For example, aspirin and ibuprofen taken over a long period of time can irritate the stomach lining. In addition, antibiotics, cholesterol drugs, and opioids can cause a wide range of stomach problems, including nausea, diarrhea, and gas. Iron supplements can irritate your esophagus and cause constipation. Chemotherapy can cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
How do you protect your stomach when using these medications? One of the best ways to protect your stomach from these drugs is to listen to advice from your doctor, particularly for prescribed medications. In addition, it would be best if you did not take some of these drugs on an empty stomach. Another critical thing to keep in mind is that you should not take pills, like aspirin, for longer than ten days.
Protecting your stomach is still as vital today as it was in antiquity. It’s best to adopt preventative measures to protect your stomach, such as eating more fiber and improving your diet. However, if you already have stomach problems from long-term illness or using certain medications, you should make sure that you take extra precautions to protect your stomach from worse issues, including ulcers and bleeding.