In Part 1 we discussed the digestive system, how it all works, where each part of what you eat and how it all gets digested.
In Part 2, we will discuss a couple of gastrointestinal disorders and how they occur and how they can effect digestion, plus general guidance on maximizing digestion.
Common Disorder #1 – Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include (but not limited to):
- flatulence (wind)
- bloated stomach
- stomach cramps
These symptoms usually develop within a few hours of consuming food or drink that contains lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase. Your body needs lactase to break down, or digest, lactose.
Lactose intolerance most commonly runs in families, and symptoms usually develop during the teen or adult years.
Normally one can have a limited amount of lactose before the symptoms start occuring. One may work out how much milk/dairy can be tolerated before the symptoms kick in. This can, however, be tricky because most processed food contains hidden lactose. Abstaining from milk and dairy is a better solution but this can almost be impossible.
The other option is to consider by supplementing capsules of lactase enzymes. There are many commercially available lactase enzymes, and you should see your local health food stores for the options available.
Common Disorder #2 – Celiac Disease
Celiac’s disease is another somewhat common digestive disorder. Celiac’s is caused by an allergic reaction to glidian, a small peptide component of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye, and barely. People who have Celiac’s have what is called a “leaky gut” and this allows this peptide to enter into circulation.
Eating foods containing gluten can trigger a range of symptoms, such as:
- diarrhoea, which may smell particularly unpleasant
- bloating and flatulence (passing wind)
- abdominal pain
- weight loss
- feeling tired all the time as a result of malnutrition (not getting enough nutrients from food)
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition. This is where the immune system – the body’s defence against infection – mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
Coeliac disease isn’t an allergy or an intolerance to gluten.
In cases of coeliac disease, the immune system mistakes substances found inside gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them.
Sadly, Celiac disease is genetic and cannot be avoided – you either have it or your don’t. A blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. The only treatment is a diet free of gluten.
So there we have a couple of examples of digestive issues. We the common digestive issues but there are many others that we left out simply because they are more uncommon and if we explained them this article would be about 100+ pages long, and hey lets face it… no one would read it!
Guidelines – How To Avoid Issues.
So, to help in general – here are a few guidelines!
- Avoid eating large amounts of high-risk foods in a single setting that you know irritate your gut. For example, it may be ok to drink 1-2 litre of milk per day if you drank it over several meals. If you drink it all at once, we can almost guarantee your stomach will talk. If your stomach doesn’t talk to you and make your feel like death, your ass will certainly tell you as you sit on the throne passing your guts powerfully into the loo.
- If you have one, give yourself enough time to digest your pre-workout meal. Training on a full gut may harm your performance and actually slow nutrient absorption when you need it most!
- Avoid eating too many sugar alcohols (found in sweeteners and protein bars). Sugar alcohols are easily fermented by the gut bacteria and can cause gas and uncomfortable bloating and explosive runs in some people.
- Consuming a diet that is high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits (where appropriate) can improve your digestive health. A high-fiber diet helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract, making you less likely to get constipated.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is good for your digestive health. Water in your digestive system helps dissolve fats and soluble fibre, allowing these substances to pass through more easily.
- Manage stress. Too much stress or anxiety can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive and cause irritation in the gut, and release too much acid, intestinal contractions and many other negative actions when little or no food is passing through.
- Eat on schedule. Consuming your meals and snacks on a regular schedule can help keep your digestive system in top shape. Aim to sit down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks around the same time each day. Your body is intelligent, it gets used to food timings and by keeping to these times, it manages digestion more effectively without pain.
This is the end of Part 2. Come back for part 2 which then discusses issues that may effect one as you age or indeed before hand if you have particularly sensitive digestive tract.