Improving Women’s Digestive Health

Improving Women’s Digestive Health

As women grow older, they find their digestive health patterns change. Eating and drinking the proper supply of nutrients can help the body grow, replace worn-out tissue and provide energy. If your body isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs, it can lead to health problems over time.   Understanding your digestive health will give you the power to change how you handle your digestive health.

Digestive Issues Explained

If you are having issues with the digestive system, you may notice symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating and acid reflux. These issues are considered short-term conditions and can easily be cured with medication or changing up your lifestyle. It’s important to understand that issues with the digestive system can sometimes be serious, so be sure to consult your doctor.

Constipation

Having fewer than three bowel movements a week and stools that turn out to be firm or hard to pass are signs of constipation. To prevent constipation, drink plenty of fluids, eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day, and exercise at least 3 times per week for 20 minutes.

Diarrhea

If you have three or more loose bowel movements a day and cramping, you may have a case of diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by eating or drinking contaminated food that may contain germs your body isn’t used too. If you drink caffeine, artificial sweeteners and consume dairy products and are lactose intolerant, it may cause abdominal pain due to food sensitivities. If you have a case of diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids to replace those that are lost. If it does not go away in a few hours, drink fluids and liquid food that contain salt. Avoid sport drinks, broth, dairy products, soda and juices.

Acid Reflux

If you happen to feel a burning feeling in your throat and chest, also known as heartburn, you may have acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophagus doesn’t tighten or close properly. This allows digestive contents to rise up from your stomach into your esophagus. Some ways to prevent or reduce the effect of acid reflux include:

  • Elevating the head of your bed
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoid lying on your back

Healthy Foods to Eat

Making simple improvements to your diet on a daily basis can strengthen your digestive system. If you happen to have symptoms from the common digestive problems listed above, then incorporating a healthy diet and physical activity will help improve these issues.

Eating the right amount of nutritious food from the five food groups can help make a positive impact on your digestive health.

  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Protein
  • Dairy

Adding probiotics to your diet can enhance nutrient adsorption that may help breakdown lactose, strengthen the immune system, and help treat IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Menstrual Cycles can also play a role in irritable bowel syndrome for women as symptoms often become worse just before or at the start of a women’s period.

The best way identify problems is to keep a food diary. A website from the U.S. Department of Agriculture called My Plate offers a feature called the Super Tracker, where you can record your age, sex, height, weight, physical activity, and daily food intake. Once you have filled out your profile, you are given recommendations on what you should be eating on a daily basis.

The Benefits of Fish to Overall Health

Fish and other protein-rich foods also have nutrients that can help your digestive tract.  Including Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet has positive effects on pregnancy. Seafood that includes fish and shellfish are a great source of protein, iron and zinc are crucial nutrients growth and development.  It is best to serve 1-2 servings of fish per week, starting at age two years old.  Use the chart below to decide which fish to eat and how often it is best to eat each type of fish.

Best Choices (Eat 2-3 servings per week)

  • Anchovy
  • Clam
  • Hake
  • Pickerel
  • Shad
  • Tilapia
  • Atlantic Croaker
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Plaice
  • Shrimp
  • Trout
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Pollock
  • Skate
  • Tuna
  • Black Sea Bass
  • Crawfish
  • Mullet
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Whitefish
  • Butterfish
  • Flounder
  • Oyster
  • Sardine
  • Sole
  • Whiting
  • Catfish
  • Haddock
  • Perch
  • Scallop
  • Squid

Good Choices to Eat (Eat 1 serving per week)

  • Bluefish
  • Monkfish
  • Tuna
  • Buffalofish
  • Rockfish
  • Tuna/Yellowfin
  • Carp
  • Sablefish
  • Weakfish/Seatrout
  • Chilea Sea Bass
  • Sheephead
  • White croaker/Pacific Croaker
  • Groupon
  • Snapper
  • Halibut
  • Spanish Mackerel
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Striped Bass

Choices to Avoid (Highest mercury levels)

  • King Mackerel
  • Shark
  • Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
  • Marlin
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna, Bigeye
  • Orange Roughy

Hormonal Changes Affecting Your Digestive Health

Your hormones play an integral part in your overall health.

The digestive problems a woman may have during menopause comes in many forms such as excess wind, constipation, weight gain, and abdominal discomfort.  There are home remedies that can help improve the functioning of your digestive system during menopause.

  • Chamomile Tea
  • Exercise
  • Yogurt
  • Fiber
  • De-stress

The Bottom Line

If you experience occasional, frequent, or chronic digestive systems, it’s time to start making simple diet and lifestyle changes. Eating whole-foods high in fiber, healthy fat and nutrients are the first steps toward good digestion. It is also beneficial to practice mindful eating, stress reduction, and exercise activities. Ultimately, abandoning bad habits that affect your digestive health will relieve symptoms.

If you’re doing all of these things and still have digestive issues on a daily basis. It is recommended to see your doctor for further evaluation.

*This blog is for general informational purposes only. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. does not distribute medical advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute a patient-client relationship between the reader and Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A.

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