In the past, doctors would prescribe a diet for gastrointestinal illnesses. Nowadays, the advice is first to figure out why you have GI issues and then address it with diet or other treatments that suit your specific needs. Not all gastrointestinal problems are due to what you eat – some people may be genetically predisposed to certain conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Here is a discussion on how DNA can influence GI illnesses.
Why Regular Functioning of Your Bowel is Vital
The digestive system is one of the most vital systems in your body. While many don’t think about it that much, your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is what keeps you alive.
If you have ever gone on a diet with little or no fiber intake, you will know why regular bowel functioning is important. Without healthy, regular bowel movements, food wastes and toxins can accumulate in your body. They may lead to further health challenges such as weight gain, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and mental illness.
A healthy digestive system starts with healthy gut flora. The trillions of bacteria that colonize your intestines help you become healthier every day. They create vitamins and enzymes, strengthen your immune system, and protect you from harmful bacteria.
The best way to promote gut flora health is to eat a balanced and varied diet and avoid processed and refined foods as much as possible. If you want to take this another notch up, try out some recipes for fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. Fermented foods are a great way to add good bacteria to your diet. Just like the bacteria living in your digestive system, they too contain live cultures that can populate your gut.
How DNA Can Influence Your Gut Health
A healthy gut has one of the biggest influences on overall health and well-being. From regulating mood to maintaining hormonal balance, it is not an exaggeration to say that a healthy gut can lead to a happier and healthier life in general.
Your gut flora consists of good and bad bacteria: for good bacteria to thrive, bad bacteria need to be kept in check. Suppose you are predisposed to having higher levels of bad bacteria. In that case, your body may not be able to fight off digestive challenges as easily because it is already having trouble keeping levels of good bacteria up.
Certain genes can predispose an individual to intestinal disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While genes that cause these diseases are rare, people can develop symptoms much earlier.
For example, some individuals may only start having bowel problems when they hit their 20’s or 30’s while others might not show any digestive issues until they reach middle age. This is because, with these genetic disorders, the bad bacteria in the gut have a much easier time aggressively growing and multiplying. This can take up all of the ‘food’ sources, leaving good bacteria no choice but to eat themselves.
It is not always easy to determine if you are predisposed to certain diseases, especially when symptoms appear later in life. If you are worried about your digestive health, speak to your doctor. They will refer you to a specialist to get more information and begin treatment if needed.
A healthy diet can also help bring your gut flora back into balance, as long as it is a well-rounded one that includes a good amount of fiber from vegetables and whole grains.
What You Can Do to Promote Healthy Bowel Functioning
1. Eat Plenty of Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber is an important element in your diet because it helps make bowel movements easier and healthier. As you may know already, this is vital for healthy digestion.
Your digestive system needs fiber to transport wastes out of the body before they start causing further harm. Fiber acts as a sort of ‘scrubber’ for your intestines by clearing them of disease-causing bacteria and toxins, keeping any bad bacteria in check, so it doesn’t have an opportunity to grow uncontrollably. It also helps to alleviate constipation, another common digestive disorder.
2. Introduce Probiotic Foods into Your Diet
Probiotic foods contain healthy bacteria that populate the gut and work to crowd out bad bacteria – which is where the term ‘probiotics’ came from in the first place. Probiotics can be found naturally in certain dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir. If you prefer not to eat dairy products, there are plenty of other vegan-friendly options.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that probiotics use to produce healthy bacteria. Prebiotic foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which help increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, support your digestive system, and make waste elimination easier.
3. Take Care of Any Constipation, or Diarrhea Symptoms You May Have
You can do this by avoiding certain high-fiber foods that may cause loose stools, such as beans and bran cereal. Instead, opt for low-fiber foods to control your bowel movements. This includes dairy, meat, and fish which can help promote healthy bowel functioning.
4. Avoid Foods That Cause Bloating or Gassiness
Some of the most common gas-causing culprits include beans, asparagus, onions, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, as well as artificial additives to your food such as preservatives and flavorings.
5. Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated and Keep Your Digestive System Healthy
You may not realize, but dehydration can cause some serious problems such as constipation and heartburn – which is why it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day if you want to maintain optimal health. This will also help with transporting waste products out of the gut.
6. Stay Active to Keep Your Digestive System Healthy
Aside from eating well, exercise is perhaps one of the best things you can do for your digestive health. It promotes bowel movements and increases blood flow to all major organs in the body.
While nothing can replace a professional diagnosis, following these tips and incorporating probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet can help promote digestive health and keep problem symptoms at bay. Also, visit a doctor to know whether DNA is the cause of your GI disorders.