The human digestive system does many important things. It helps break down food, absorbs the good stuff from it, and gets rid of what we don’t need. This system involves organs like the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. When these organs don’t work properly, it can lead to serious illnesses. Many people in Pakistan have digestive problems, around 30% to 40%, which is more than the global average. These problems often start small but can get worse if people ignore the signs and don’t take them seriously.
Gastrointestinal patients often have stomach, intestine, or digestion problems. They can face issues like Gastritis, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Peptic Ulcers, Gastroparesis, Gastroenteritis, Functional Dyspepsia, Helicobacter Pylori Infection, and even Stomach cancer. But the most common issues are diarrhea and constipation. Diarrhea means having loose and watery bowel movements. It can come with cramps, pain, fever, and bleeding. It can lead to dehydration because you lose a lot of water. Contaminated food or water with bacteria and viruses can cause diarrhea, so it’s important to be hygienic. Constipation is when you have trouble passing stool. It can make you feel like you didn’t finish, and it often happens when stool stays too long in your large intestine. Constipation can be caused by a lack of fiber in your diet. Moving your body through physical activity can help digestion and reduce constipation. Some painkillers and antacids can cause constipation too. Pregnant women might get constipated because of hormonal changes. Your diet plays a big role in these digestive issues.
Some foods can make things worse. For example, dairy products like milk can slow down digestion because they lack fiber. Some people can’t digest lactose, which is in milk, and that can cause constipation. Bananas are a good fruit to eat, but unripe ones are harder to digest. Ripe bananas are better for both diarrhea and constipation. Fruits like apples, pears, and bananas help regulate digestion. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons can be irritating for the gut, so it’s better to avoid them. For dinner, it’s best to keep it light and easy to digest. Grilled fish without spices is a good choice because it’s a lean protein. Gastro patients should avoid red meat, spicy foods, and certain spices like red chili, black pepper, garlic, and onion because they can irritate the stomach lining. Instead, use ginger and turmeric in your cooking; they have anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking plenty of water is essential for both constipation and diarrhea patients.
Constipation can happen if you’re dehydrated, and diarrhea can cause you to lose a lot of water and electrolytes, which are minerals your body needs. Stress can affect your digestion too. It can either slow down or speed up the digestive process. Managing stress through exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet can help. It’s important to eat fresh, healthy food and stick to regular meal times. Chewing your food properly helps with digestion.
Taking a short walk after eating can improve digestion, while lying down right after a meal can lead to indigestion. In short, taking care of your digestive system involves eating the right foods, staying hydrated, managing stress, and maintaining healthy eating habits. This can help prevent and alleviate common digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation.
At the end, I thank to Respected Sir Dr. Muhammad AkramZaheer for his valuable source of guidance. He generously shared his time and knowledge, providing me with valuable feedback and constructive criticism that has significantly improved the quality of my work. His patience, encouragement, and willingness to engage in meaningful discussions have been truly inspiring.
BS. Human Nutrition and Dietetics
University of Okara