Pathways SU24 Digital Magazine


“Why Can’t I Digest Anything?” Understanding and Solving Digestive Problems


tors, can impact digestive processes, either directly or as a side effect. Chronic stress or anxiety can affect digestion by altering hormone lev - els and increasing sensitivity in the gut. A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and inadequate hydration can also play their parts. Dysbiosis and Related Conditions Dysbiosis is one of the less commonly known or understood caus - es at the root of digestive problems. The term is used to describe an imbalance in the microbial communities that naturally reside in cer- tain parts of the body, particularly the gut. The human gut microbiota contains trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and vi- ruses that play a crucial role in maintaining overall health and proper function of the digestive system. When a person experiences dysbiosis, there can be changes in the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota, which can have var- ious negative effects on health. The symptoms of dysbiosis can vary among individuals, but they may include related digestive issues (e.g., bloating, gas, diarrhea), weakened immune function, skin problems, irregular bowel movements, and changes in mood or mental health. Following are some potential causes of dysbiosis: • Antibiotic use - While antibiotics can be life-saving medicines, they can also disrupt the natural balance of gut bacteria by killing off both harmful and beneficial microorganisms. • Poor diet - Consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and low in fiber can negatively impact the gut microbiota diversity and composition.

Nothing ruins a good day, a good vacation or simply a good meal like experiencing digestive problems. They can be uncomfortable, dis- ruptive, or even embarrassing in your daily life. There are any number of reasons — some commonly known, others less understood — that are potential causes for your digestive woes. It’s important to learn more about the various factors that can affect digestion in order to find appropriate solutions and learn tips for managing and improving digestive health. Most people readily understand that digestion is affected by poor eating habits, both behavioral and dietary. Negative outcomes can stem from: regularly consuming large meals or overeating; eating too quickly or not chewing food thoroughly; or simply not eating an ad- equate amount of fiber or variety of healthy foods in your daily diet. Gastrointestinal disorders are also commonly understood to cause digestive distress. For instance, acid reflux (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and discomfort; it is a frequent side effect associated with many of those poor eating habits mentioned. A more serious and chronic disorder is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which affects the large intestine, causing abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements. The most pervasive and concerning is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which includes conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcer - ative colitis, characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. There is also widespread understanding that certain medications and medical conditions — like diabetes, thyroid disorders, or pan- creatic insufficiency — as well as stress and/or various lifestyle fac -

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PATHWAYS—Summer 24—21

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