Reviewed by William Blahd on November 13, 2015

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Video Transcript

Dr. William F. Balistreri: I'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. Balistreri: This will translate into long-term beneficial effects on weight and digestive health. Let me explain.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Number one, unhealthy eating and drinking.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: This relates to both quantity and quality. A supersize meal rapidly ingested can lead to bloating and reflux.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Similarly, carbonated beverages can adversely affect the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: On 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. Balistreri: These include weight management, avoidance of constipation, and reduced risk of digestive diseases such as diverticulosis and cancer.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Number two, alcohol.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Obviously, ingestion of excessive amounts of alcohol places an individual at a higher risk of liver injury with the potential for cirrhosis.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Alcohol ingestion can also cause gastritis, pancreatitis, and other severe gastrointestinal tract injuries.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Number three, sleep deprivation.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: This has recently been shown to be associated with excessive weight gain.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: The 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. Balistreri: Number four, inactivity.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: A 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. Balistreri: Number five, apathy.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: Anyone 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. Balistreri: The bottom line -- I restate that I'm not sure that I can pinpoint the worst habit.

Dr. William F. Balistreri: However, 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.