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Gut Reaction: Managing GI Issues

 By | December 3, 2020 | No Comments
 Category: General Wellness Healthy Diet Supplements

You know it all too well, when your gut doesn’t feel good, you don’t feel good. What are the most common gastrointestinal (GI) ailments? Upper GI complaints typically consist of heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, stomach pain and feeling of food heaviness. The most frequent lower GI complaints gas, abdominal cramping, the urge to defecate, and diarrhea.

Treatment of GI issues may require you to speak with your healthcare practitioner, and pharmacological interventions may be called for; but oftentimes, it is necessary to address food choices and eating habits. Most people do not realize that their food choices may exacerbate underlying gut complaints. And poor eating habits can also wreck havoc on good gut health. For those who complain of gas or bloating, the grab, gulp, and go method of eating may cause more discomfort than taking the time to sit and eat.

Stress, irregular schedules, travel delays and overly busy lives can also wreck havoc on the gut. One of the hallmarks of digestive disorder management is establishing some degree of consistency with regards to the timing and size of meals.

Food safety issues can also lead to gastrointestinal problems. Remember the adage: keep hot food hot, cold foods cold and if in doubt - throw it out!


Supplements may be a component of your healthy eating plan, and some supplements may even help with your healthy gut. Probiotics, for example, may crowd out unwanted gut bacteria, a mechanism for reducing harmful organisms in the intestine. But sometimes certain supplements may cause you digestive distress. It’s probably best to take your supplements with food. For example, mega doses of Vitamin C may cause stomach pain, potassium, iron and large doses of magensium supplements may cause nauseaGinger when consumed on an empty stomach can cause heartburn. In fact, you probably don’t want to take any supplements on an empty stomach, unless advised on the product label or by your healthcare practitioner.

This does not mean you must do away with the supplement, but do monitor any GI symptoms and let you health care provider know if you have any adverse effects.

So what about specific symptoms?

Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you have GERD, there are certain eating habits that can exacerbate symptoms. Skipping meals and then overeating, eating late at night, eating quickly, and eating while rushed are habits that should be avoided. The consumption of fatty or fried foods, alcohol, caffeine and use of peppermint (in gum or mints) should also be discouraged. In general, try having smaller more evenly spaced meals with a lighter meal in the evening, drinking fluids between rather than with meals, using non-peppermint gum to stimulate salivary flow, staying upright after meals, no exercising immediately following meals, and allowing 3 hours between the last meal and sleep.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Although there is not one diet for irritable bowel syndrome, stress and eating are the triggers for symptoms. Practicing stress management and limiting potential food stressors are recommended. The potential food irritants include adding too much fiber too quickly, eating while rushed, fatty or fried foods, carbonated beverages, fructose (too much fruit/juice), and sugar alcohols which can be found in sugar free gums/mints and can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Some individuals with IBS find that chamomile tea works well as an antispasmodic. Enteric coated peppermint oil capsules can also help with abdominal cramps. Some may experience symptom relief with the use of a probiotic pill or in food form such as yogurt or kefir. It is extremely important to sit and relax at mealtimes to give the body a relaxed atmosphere to digest.

Lactose Intolerance

Since lactose containing foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium, and protein and in some cases Vitamin D, there is concern that unnecessary restriction of these foods can result in nutrient deficits. Many with lactose intolerance are more likely to be lactose maldigesters and can incorporate lactose containing foods into their diet as long as they add these foods in gradually. There are also lactase capsules, drops and lactase treated foods. Individuals with lactose intolerance must read the labels of foods (including nutritional supplements) carefully to make sure they are not consuming items that may be problematic. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, it’s important to get enough calcium and vitamin D, and supplements can help you fill those gaps.


I like my patients to keep a Good Gut Travel Kit. This may contain sports drink powder and drinks that contain electrolytes in the case of nausea/vomiting, candied gingerroot for nausea, chamomile tea bags for abdominal spasms, fig bars and dried plums to help with constipation and raspberry leaf or blackberry root bark tea for diarrhea.

I ask my clients to keep a food and symptom log so that they can get a better idea of what they tolerate and what is bothersome. Eating and eating habits are two things that can be controlled, so identifying food and eating habits triggers as well as solutions can help you become a member of the Good Gut Club!



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