10 Habits Of Gastrointestinal Health
Your gastrointestinal tract is not only responsible for swallowing, digesting, and absorbing the foods you eat, but also plays a pivotal role in your overall health and well-being. Your gastrointestinal health can have positive effects on your mood, immune system, energy levels and keeps your brain and body functioning.
Habits Of Gastrointestinal Health
At Birmingham Gastroenterology, we want to ensure you know the best ways to care for your digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas. Here are ten habits to keep your gastrointestinal health in check.
1. Control All Of Your “Other” Medical Conditions
Many chronic diseases negatively influence your intestinal tract: think poorly controlled diabetes, undertreated cardiovascular diseases, thyroid disorders, obesity, and so on. There is a synergistic relationship between intestinal health and your other organ systems.
2. Work Hard To Avoid The Habitual Use Of Opioid Analgesics
The individual and societal devastation wrought by the American opioid epidemic is well documented. However, the negative effects on the GI tract are not. The chronic user of opiates will almost always deal with some degree of chronic gut distress in the form of opioid-induced constipation, narcotic bowel syndrome, and/or chronic nausea and vomiting. If you take narcotics, your gut will never feel normal.
3. Use Antibiotics The Right Way
You have a delicately balanced community of gut bacteria found primarily in your large intestine. Disruption of this balance may create significant GI morbidity in the form of infectious colitis, chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, and other maladies. Antibiotics are an invaluable tool in the treatment of bacterial infection, but their overuse is problematic.
4. Be Proactive
Colonoscopy is an essential tool for colon and rectal cancer prevention. The CDC suggests regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer and detecting it early. Regardless of age, symptoms such as a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and unintentional weight loss should not be ignored. Being proactive and scheduling routine check-ups and procedures is essential for your gastrointestinal health.
5. Don’t Abuse Alcohol
Ingested alcohol in any form may be very toxic to the gut, liver, and pancreas when used in excess over extended periods of time. A study conducted by the NIH concluded that large amounts of alcohol consumption can overwhelm the gastrointestinal tract and liver and lead to damage both within the GI tract and in other organs. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends drinking in moderation by limiting intake to two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.
6. Maintain An Ideal Body Weight
Being obese increases your risk of fatty liver and cirrhosis, chronic acid reflux disease, gallbladder issues, and various gastrointestinal disorders. We find that many chronic gut diseases treated in our office benefit from weight reduction.
7. Follow-Up With Your Gastroenterologist
Acute and chronic GI diseases are best managed through the experience and expertise of a board-certified gastroenterologist or affiliated medical professional. Gastroenterologists are equipped to provide both a diagnosis and effective short and long-term treatment.
8. Respect Anti-Inflammatories And Aspirin Products
These are good drugs that we need, but they can cause gastritis, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding when not used responsibly. Don’t forget to tell your doctors if you take these medications as a prescription or over-the-counter on a regular basis.
Here at Birmingham Gastroenterology, we have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options or to ask questions about your gastrointestinal health, call us at (205) 271-8000.