What are the "worst habits" for your digestive health?
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Dr. William F. BalistreriI'm not sure what ranks highest among the hierarchy of sins. However, it's clear that careful attention to the basic elements of daily living—eating, drinking, sleeping, and exercise -- can keep your digestive tract healthy and happy.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThis will translate into long-term beneficial effects on weight and digestive health. Let me explain.
Dr. William F. BalistreriNumber one, unhealthy eating and drinking.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThis relates to both quantity and quality. A supersize meal rapidly ingested can lead to bloating and reflux.
Dr. William F. BalistreriSimilarly, carbonated beverages can adversely affect the gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. William F. BalistreriOn the other hand, a diet consisting of unprocessed foods including fruits and vegetables along with a high fiber diet can have numerous beneficial effects.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThese include weight management, avoidance of constipation, and reduced risk of digestive diseases such as diverticulosis and cancer.
Dr. William F. BalistreriNumber two, alcohol.
Dr. William F. BalistreriObviously, ingestion of excessive amounts of alcohol places an individual at a higher risk of liver injury with the potential for cirrhosis.
Dr. William F. BalistreriAlcohol ingestion can also cause gastritis, pancreatitis, and other severe gastrointestinal tract injuries.
Dr. William F. BalistreriNumber three, sleep deprivation.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThis has recently been shown to be associated with excessive weight gain.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThe mechanism is related to alteration in hunger and satiety signals to the brain in individuals whose sleep cycles are inadequate. Therefore, a good habit is to ensure an adequate sleep duration.
Dr. William F. BalistreriNumber four, inactivity.
Dr. William F. BalistreriA healthy gut typically resides in an active body. Lack of exercise not only places an individual at risk for obesity but also for constipation and diverticulitis.
Dr. William F. BalistreriNumber five, apathy.
Dr. William F. BalistreriAnyone can pose an excuse as to why they avoid health maintenance and screening such as colonoscopy. However, these can be life saving.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThe bottom line -- I restate that I'm not sure that I can pinpoint the worst habit.
Dr. William F. BalistreriHowever, I am confident that the best habits for digestive health are to eat and drink in moderate, exercise daily, and see your healthcare provider at regular intervals. We will all sleep well.