What is in this article?:
Digestive issues aren’t just uncomfortable, they also affect your total well-being. One in three U.S. adults has a digestive disease—and the rest of us have periodic bouts of heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating. Here, you’ll find guides to common digestive issues as well as healthy habits and supplements that can help get your digestion—and wellness—back on track.
Digestion and well being
Digestive issues aren’t just uncomfortable—they affect your total well-being. Take IBS. Although there’s no known cause for this inflammatory condition, 14 percent of the population lives with its hallmark symptoms: chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and alternating diarrhea and constipation. Or consider leaky gut syndrome. Any number of factors—stress, food allergies, heavy alcohol use, infections, medications such as antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen—can damage and inflame the gut’s lining, allowing undigested food molecules to pass directly into the bloodstream. Not only does the body not absorb nutrients from these large molecules, but the immune system begins attacking them as bloodstream invaders, stimulating inflammation and allergic reactions elsewhere in the body. “The prevalence [of leaky gut] is underestimated,” Sierpina says, “and it causes or worsens many conditions”—especially autoimmune ones like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue, and psoriasis.
“If digestive health is not in balance, you’re not going to feel well, and you may have systemic consequences,” says North Carolina–based Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, clinical nutritionist and integrative health consultant, and author of Digestive Wellness, Fourth Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2011). “It’s an opportunity to look more deeply.” Here, you’ll find guides to common digestive issues as well as healthy habits and supplements that can help get your digestion—and wellness—back on track. Keep in mind that digestive symptoms are similar for many conditions, and can also indicate something more serious, so consult your health care provider if symptoms persist and before taking any dietary supplement.