Norman Regional Health System

Monday, April 5, 2021

If you are among the millions of Americans impacted by a digestive disorder, you do not have to suffer alone.

Digestive issues impact the digestive tract (also known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract), which includes the esophagus, gallbladder, intestines (small and large), liver, pancreas and stomach. There are a variety of digestive disorders that vary in severity. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bleeding, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and/or vomiting.

Make sure to speak with your primary care provider if you have frequent digestive issues. In some cases, you may need to see a specialist or undergo tests or procedures to make an accurate diagnosis.

Here are a few tips that may help control or prevent digestive issues.

  • Eat slowly. Make sure to chew your food well before you swallow to prevent taking in too much air, which can cause discomfort. By eating slowly, you will also be able to tell when you have had enough to eat before you get too full.

  • Eat smaller meals or snacks. To avoid acid reflux or indigestion, eat smaller amounts of food so you do not overfill your stomach.

  • Eat an early dinner. Since our digestive systems are less active at night, aim to eat your last bite of food at least three to four hours before bed so you have more time for your digestive system to break down food, hopefully avoiding discomfort.

  • Stay active. For better health, it’s always important to get physical activity into your day. Try taking a short walk about 15 to 30 minutes after eating a meal for better digestion.

  • Pay attention to what you are eating. Make sure you are eating enough fiber (view recommendations based on your gender and age.) If you need to boost your fiber intake, gradually increase over several days or weeks so the added fiber does not cause gas or bloating. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of fiber. If you are prone to abdominal bloating, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends avoiding baked beans, broccoli, cabbage, carbonated beverages, cauliflower, gum and hard candy.

  • Set an eating schedule and stick to it. Your digestive system may do best on a schedule. Try eating around the same times every day.

  • Stress less. Stress and anxiety have been linked to many digestive issues. Check out these tips on how to destress.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about taking probiotics. Probiotics are supplements that offer helpful bacteria that may improve your digestive health.

Although we hope these tips will help improve your health, we know that you and your family members will still get colds and other illnesses. If you need medical advice, Norman Regional has you covered. Log on to Norman Regional Virtual Care and visit with a provider today from the comfort of your home or office. It’s quick, convenient and only costs $55 for each visit.