Three of the most common digestive conditions affecting women include:
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)--also known simply as heartburn, GERD develops when stomach acid (and even stomach contents) splashes up into the esophagus; symptoms vary, but can include chest pain, a burning sensation in the back of the throat, sour taste in the throat and mouth, cough, sore throat, and hoarseness.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)--a chronic disorder that causes diarrhea, constipation, or both; symptoms can include frequent cramping, gas, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)--a blanket term for a variety of chronic conditions that involve inflammation and immunity problems, IBD includes ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and others; symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramping, fever, and bloody diarrhea.
If you’re experiencing troubling symptoms like frequent gas, bloating, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, burning pain in the chest, or blood in the stools-- you should consult a doctor on priority.
Tips for a Healthy Digestive System
A nutritious diet rich in whole foods is a key part of good health. Follow these tips for a healthy digestive system:
??Eat a high-fiber diet that includes both soluble fiber (e.g. whole oats) and insoluble fiber (e.g. leafy greens).
??Choose low-fat foods and lean meats; fatty foods like fried potatoes and fatty cuts of meat can be difficult to digest.
??Stay hydrated, which (along with eating enough fiber) helps your body form softer, bulkier stools.
??Enhance your diet with superfoods, including berries, green tea, nuts, chia seeds, oats, dark leafy greens, and unsweetened yogurt.
??Exercise regularly; physical activity helps your digestive system function optimally.
??Manage stress, which can reduce immunity and cause a range of problems, from increased stomach acid production to esophageal spasms.
??Limit consumption of caffeine and alcohol, which can trigger or worsen heartburn and other digestive problems.
??To prevent hemorrhoids, women should eat enough fiber to help prevent constipation, avoid straining on the toilet, and prop the feet up on a stool during bowel movements, which allows for easier passage of stools.