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The digestive system begins at the mouth and ends at the bottom. Everything that occurs in between is the digestive process and, as with any process in the body, things can go wrong. Digestive disorders can be due to a number of factors including stress, infection, poor diet, smoking, lack of fibre, alcohol intake, gut flora dysbiosis, eating disorders, and drug interactions.

It is believed that psychological stressors can result in gastrointestinal symptoms through alteration of intestinal functions mediated by the autonomic nervous system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and immune system. Poor diet, stress and toxic exposure (cigarette smoking, alcohol, drugs) have all been shown to weaken gut integrity. Supporting the gut is at the core of dealing with stress and digestive disorders.  

 

Acid Reflux

Acid produced by the stomach moves up due to abnormal functioning of the valve that separates the stomach from the oesophagus. This result is burning chest pain called heartburn. Other symptoms of acid reflux include burping, bloating, hiccups, nausea and regurgitation. Acid reflux can be treated with simple lifestyle changes, natural heartburn remedies, or by surgery or medication if required.

 

Bloating

Bloating is often due to an imbalance of gut flora, meaning an overgrowth of undesirable bacteria or yeasts. Poor food digestion could also lead to bloating. Probiotics aid in the efficient digestion of food, so too does chewing habits and eating in a quiet, relaxed environment. Prebiotics are the preferred food source for beneficial bacteria and can be found in foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, onion, garlic, asparagus, chicory, leeks and bananas. They can, however, cause bloating in some people until their levels of desirable bacteria are increased. Constipation and the build-up of waste material in the colon can also cause bloating. Psyllium husk fibre and probiotics have been shown to help support healthy bowel movements.


Constipation

Constipation is defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. Stools are often hard and difficult to pass. The common causes are stress, lack of fibre in diet, lack of water intake or an imbalanced gut flora. Probiotics and psyllium husk fibre have been proven to be beneficial to many with constipation. To keep bowel movements regular and reduce the likelihood of constipation, you should drink up to 1.5-2 litres of water a day, eat at least five portions of vegetables, eat smaller meals regularly and slowly, and also include some exercise such as walking or swimming.  


Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a common symptom that can be described as an increase in frequency, fluidity, and volume of bowel movements. The therapy of any chronic diarrhoea requires identification of the underlying cause and then directing therapy designed to restore normal bowel function. Diarrhoea is mainly due to gastro-intestinal infection, although less common causes include hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disorders, cystic fibrosis or an anatomical problem with the gut. Any of these causes will require medical attention. Supplementation with lactobacillus acidophilus is crucial in the treatment of diarrhoea of any kind, but particularly in antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.  

 

Indigestion/heartburn

This is a burning, acid feeling in the stomach or lower chest, which can start after eating and last for several hours. An overgrowth of certain organisms in the digestive system can lead to indigestion, mainly one called Helicobacter pylori. Probiotic supplements relieve symptoms. A natural remedy like peppermint is believed to aid in digestion. 

 

Role of Probiotics 

Probiotics includes stomach friendly bacteria that helps with the digestion process and also prevents an overgrowth of harmful organisms in the gut. Any kind of infection affecting the gastro-intestinal tract requires the replenishing of helpful bacteria. Probiotics contain different strains of lactobacillus acidophilus. Probiotics are widely recommended those on long-term antibiotics, those with diarrhoea and also for good digestive health.

 

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