The Ins and Outs of Gastrointestinal Health read

Apr 15 2021


Today, it’s no secret that gastrointestinal problems is globally a taboo topic and very seldom up for discussion. Then again, talking about stomach and bowel symptoms can be embarrassing for most people. However, certain facts about its widespread are quite alarming to say the least. For example, did you know it’s likely that 1 in 7 Indians have gastrointestinal problems? And as if that wasn’t hard enough to digest, 4 in 10 people worldwide are suffering from some sort of digestive disorder as of date.

From feeling gassy to experiencing indigestion, tummy trouble can be quite harrowing if left neglected over a period of time. Whether it’s certain foods that don’t sit well with your stomach or a lingering gastrointestinal problem that needs immediate treatment, addressing these digestive issues is the need of the hour now more than ever.

Gastrointestinal problems are nothing but disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – a digestive system that breaks down food to absorb water and extract nutrients, minerals and vitamins required by your body, eventually removing undigested waste from your system.

So whether an alteration in your diet is in order or a modified lifestyle is what you truly need, taking small steps towards a positive change today can make a big difference tomorrow.

Common Causes of Gastrointestinal Problems:

  • Low Fibre Diet
  • Insufficient Water Intake
  • Eating Excessive Dairy Foods
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Natural Ageing

Although many digestive diseases may cause similar symptoms, their repercussions and impact on quality of life may vary. Hence, it’s important that you not only learn to differentiate between them based on their respective symptoms, but also gain knowledge about various home remedies that are tried and tested when it comes to offering a great deal of relief.

Gastroesophaegal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophaegal reflux disease (GERD) is a long term digestive disorder wherein acid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus, better known as the feeding pipe.

Experiencing heartburn or acid reflux more than couple of times a week? Chances are that you’re most likely suffering from GERD.

In this case, reading the signs your body gives you can help detect GERD early on.

Symptoms of GERD:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Burn
  • Bad Breath
  • Pain or Discomfort in Swallowing
  • Sensation of Lump in Throat

Although over-the-counter (OTC) medication such as antacids along with lifestyle and dietary changes is often the recommended course of action by most doctors, simple solutions adopted at home can do wonders in minimizing the ill effects of GERD in the long run.

Home Remedies for GERD:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Avoid food & beverage triggers
  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Avoid lying down after eating


Constipation is a gastrointestinal problem that ideally occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and stools are difficult to pass.

Often caused by changes in diet or routine or simply due to inadequate intake of fibre, it’s important to understand the symptoms at the onset to prevent the condition from becoming chronic.

Symptoms of Constipation:

  • Less than three bowel movements a week
  • Hard, dry stools
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Rectal blockage

Having the potential to take a serious toll on your physical as well as mental health, constipation is a digestive condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, there are many natural ways that are scientifically proven to help relieve constipation, all of which can be easily followed in the comfort of your home.

Home Remedies for Constipation:

  • Drink 4-5 litres of water daily
  • Limit alcohol & caffeine intake
  • Eat fibre-rich foods
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Reduce low fibre foods
  • Add prebiotic foods to your diet


Commonly known by several names such as tummy bug, stomach flu, food poisoning and traveller’s diarrhoea, gastroenteritis is a viral, bacterial or parasitic infection, caused by the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Typically spread through person-to-person contact and contaminated food or water, its symptoms often mimic those of a common flu such as fever and nausea amongst others.

Hence, it is vital that you pay attention to the signs carefully as treating it casually may lead to prolonged illness.

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Mild fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Non-bloody diarrhoea

We’ve all experienced abdominal cramps and the sudden urge to get to a toilet quickly at some point in our life. Needless to say, calling it an unpleasant feeling would be an understatement.

Although gastroenteritis usually resolves on its own, in some cases, it may even lead to severe consequences. Hence, the use of clean water and good sanitation practices hold the key to reducing the chances of falling prey to this troublesome disease.

Tips to Prevent Gastroenteritis:

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid direct contact with infected people
  • Avoid eating undercooked food
  • Avoid drinking untreated water

Anal Fissures

Often caused by the passage of very hard or watery stools, anal fissures is a structural disease that creates splits or cracks in the lining of the anal opening.

Deemed as one of the most painful gastrointestinal problems, this condition is usually aggravated due to the exposed muscles becoming irritated from exposure to stools or air, leading to intense burning and agony, bleeding, or spasms post bowel movements.

Symptoms of Anal Fissures:

  • Tiny tear in the skin around the anus
  • Skin tags near the tear
  • Sharp pain in anal area during bowel movements
  • Streaks of blood in stools
  • Burning or itching in anal area

Despite the fact that anal fissures may self-heal in 4-6 weeks, enduring its symptoms are sure to make this waiting period seem like a lifetime.

While stool softeners and local anaesthetics are prescribed by doctors to decrease the pain, home remedies are also found to be effective in treating anal fissures.

Adding water-rich foods like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and watermelon as well as high-fibre foods such as lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and avocado to your diet is just the daily dose you need to see positive results sooner than later.        

Home Remedies for Anal Fissures:

  • Sitz baths
  • Water-rich foods
  • Regular exercise
  • High-fibre foods
  • Adequate water intake

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Occasionally mistaken for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the intestines wherein the colon muscle contracts more or less often than normal.

Unlike IBD, IBS doesn’t harm the digestive tract and is a far more common gastrointestinal problem amongst people.

However, it is known to cause abdominal pain at least thrice a month for three consecutive months, give or take.

Symptoms of IBS:

  • Bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain & cramps
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhoea

The ill effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be both, uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing in the company of people.

The good news is that there are numerous lifestyle changes and home remedies that score high on providing relief.

Although everyone’s body is different, it is advisable to follow certain thumb rules when dealing with IBS such as refraining from trigger foods & beverages like beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, alcohol, chocolate, coffee and dairy products.

Home Remedies for IBS:

  • Avoid triggering foods
  • Consume ginger
  • Avoid excessive caffeine
  • Increase daily fibre intake
  • Exercise regularly

While most gastrointestinal problems aren’t life-threatening, they do have a reputation of consistently disrupting your normal lifestyle, not to mention the unsettling discomfort and pain that comes with them. So if you’re not sure that your symptoms are serious enough to consult a gastroenterologist, remember that any symptom you deem persistent and/or severe calls for an immediate diagnosis. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!


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