Do you experience uncomfortable bloating in your stomach or burning in your chest after meals? You could be suffering from a digestive disease and Digestive Disease National Awareness month (May) is the opportune time to start working on your digestive health. All digestive diseases, ranging from the occasional acid reflux to full-blown irritable bowel syndrome, can be controlled to some extent by the foods you eat. Here are a few suggestions to get you moving in the right direction.
- Balanced Diet: A healthy, balanced diet that helps fight against digestive disease should incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables (at least half your plate); proteins such as lean meats, eggs, dried peas, and lentils; and multigrain breads or whole wheat pasta.
- Eat less, but more often: Eating smaller meals prevents overflow of gastric juices into your esophagus which causes heartburn and eating more often (about every 3 hours) will maintain your energy levels throughout the day making you less likely to binge eat.
- Reduce Fatty and Fried Foods: Fried chicken, potato chips, French fries, and fatty snacks all contribute to gallbladder disease, gastroparesis, reflux, bloating, and gas. Your digestive system is much better off without them.
- Limit Consumption of Dairy Products: Even though dairy products contain a lot of nutrients, they can be hard to digest if you have a stomach condition.
- Restrict Certain High-Fiber foods: High-fiber food is generally considered good for the health of your digestive tract, however, if you have a stomach ulcer too much of heavy fiber can make it worse.
Your specific digestive disorder may limit what you can eat and you may have to find alternatives for aggravating foods. If you are lactose intolerant, you could try yogurt, hard cheese, or lactose-free milk. Cooking fibrous vegetables until they are soft is one way of making sure you are consuming healthy plant-based food without exacerbating a stomach ulcer. Fiber-rich fruits such as apples can be consumed by removing the skin.
Of course, there can be no standard diet for all forms of digestive disease as each person will react differently to different foods. The best way to find out what foods work for your condition would be to maintain a food diary. By keeping a detailed record of your intake and your reaction to different types of food, you will be able to identify and eliminate problem foods while getting adequate nourishment from food sources that help fight digestive disease.