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Digestive Problems – Symptoms, Causes, And Diet Tips

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jessica Peatross , MD
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Digestive Problems – Symptoms, Causes, And Diet Tips September 5, 2018

More than 34 million people in the U.S. suffer from digestive diseases. Though the nature of digestive problems can vary, their root cause as well as treatment rely on your diet. Hence, the next time you are offered that plate of mouth-watering street food, learn to say NO. Overeating, dehydration, or even eating the wrong food can trigger digestive disorders. No matter what the digestive condition, there is a natural cure for it. For more information on the same, read on!

Table Of Contents

What Are Digestive Problems?

The digestive system is a complex and vital part of your body, and it spans all the way from your mouth to your rectum. It helps your body absorb various essential nutrients and facilitates the excretion of waste.

Digestive problems are of different types and may show varying symptoms. When left attended, these issues can lead to complications and chronic illnesses. We have discussed some common digestive issues below.

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Types, Causes, And Symptoms Of Digestive Problems

The following will give you an idea about the different digestive problems:

1. Chronic Constipation

This is when your digestive system cannot get rid of the body’s waste for an extended period.

Cause

It occurs when your colon is unable to pass stools through the remaining of your digestive tract.

Symptoms
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced bowel movements

2. Food Intolerance

This happens when your digestive system cannot tolerate certain foods. Unlike food allergies, food intolerance solely affects digestion.

Cause

A common form of food intolerance is Celiac disease, which also is an autoimmune disorder. It causes digestive problems upon gluten consumption. The causes range from the absence of a particular digestive enzyme in the body to the presence of certain chemicals in food.

Symptoms

The symptoms of food intolerance are:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

3. GERD

Frequent heartburn (a digestive problem) can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that eventually damages your esophagus.

Cause

Your stomach acid going up the esophagus can cause pain and a burning sensation in your chest. This is referred to as heartburn. Frequent and untreated heartburn leads to GERD.

Symptoms
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Dry cough
  • A sour taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing

4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect one or more parts of the digestive tract. It can be

classified into two types:

• Ulcerative colitis, which affects only the colon
• Crohn’s disease, which affects the colon and the small intestine

Cause

Although the exact cause is unknown, IBD is most often associated with genetics (a family history of the disease) and problems with the immune system.

Symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with bowel movements
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Night sweats

Now that you have a fair idea about the major types of digestive problems, let us see how they can be resolved by using simple and natural home remedies.

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How To Cure Digestive Problems Naturally

  1. Chamomile Tea
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. Ginger
  4. Coriander
  5. Pumpkin
  6. Peppermint
  7. Fennel Seeds
  8. Black Pepper
  9. Aloe Vera
  10. Turmeric
  11. Yogurt
  12. Vitamin D
  13. Green Tea
  14. Lemon Juice

1. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of chamomile tea
  • 1 cup of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of chamomile tea to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow the tea to cool a bit before adding a little honey to it.
  5. Drink the tea immediately.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this twice daily for optimum benefits.

Why This Works

Chamomile is an age-old remedy for various digestion problems like cramps, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome – thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties (1). The tea can soothe your intestinal muscles and relieve abdominal pain and discomfort.

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2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water.
  2. Mix well and consume daily.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 1 to 2 times daily, preferably before meals.

Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar stimulates the secretion of digestive juices that assist in digestion by breaking down food. It also relieves common digestive issues like heartburn and indigestion (2).

Caution

If you have problems with gastric emptying, stay away from apple cider vinegar as it can aggravate the issue.

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3. Ginger

Ginger Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 1 cup of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of minced ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. When the tea cools down a little, add some honey to it.
  5. Consume before the tea becomes cold.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this 2 to 3 times before meals or before bed.

Why This Works

Ginger is a multifaceted herb that alleviates digestion problems. Its carminative nature can help relieve bloating and gas and ease symptoms of nausea and vomiting (3).

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4. Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 cup of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Bring a teaspoon of coriander seeds to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer and strain.
  3. Cool the tea and add a little honey to it.
  4. Consume immediately.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this once daily.

Why This Works

The carminative effects of coriander seeds help heal an upset stomach and ease digestion, gas, and even bowel spasms (4).

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5. Pumpkin

Pumpkin Pinit

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You Will Need

A small bowl of cut pumpkin

What You Have To Do
  1. Cut pumpkin into small slices and cook them.
  2. Add the pieces to your favorite soups and smoothies or just consume them as they are.
How Often You Should Do This

You must consume pumpkins once daily for a few weeks.

Why This Works

Pumpkins are rich sources of fiber and low in starch and sugar. They are easy to digest and great for digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation (5).

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6. Peppermint

Peppermint Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh peppermint leaves
  • 2 cups of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Take one to two tablespoons of peppermint leaves and crush them.
  2. Add the leaves to two cups of water and bring them to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. Once the tea cools down a bit, add some honey to it.
  5. Drink the tea immediately.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this tea 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Menthol in peppermint exhibits anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic activities that help relieve digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (6). It can also alleviate the associated abdominal pain and discomfort.

Caution

Do not follow this remedy if you are suffering from nausea or heartburn. Your condition may get aggravated.

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7. Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. To a cup of water, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. Once the fennel water cools down, you can consume it.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this mixture 2 to 3 times daily prior to your meals.

Why This Works

Fennel is often used as a carminative and digestive aid. Its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties relieve stomach pain and abdominal discomfort associated with bloating and colic (7).

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8. Black Pepper

Black Pepper Pinit

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You Will Need

Ground black pepper (seasoning)

What You Have To Do

Add ground black pepper to season your favorite dishes and salads.

How Often You Should Do This

You must do this on a regular basis.

Why This Works

Piperine in black pepper has antispasmodic effects that alleviate digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation (8).

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9. Aloe Vera

 Aloe Vera Pinit

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You Will Need

2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera juice

What You Have To Do

Consume two tablespoons of fresh aloe juice daily.

How Often You Should Do This

You must do this once daily.

Why This Works

Aloe vera contains laxative compounds like barbaloin, aloin, and aloe-emodin – which promote normal bowel movements. They also help treat indigestion, bloating, and flatulence. The anti-inflammatory activities of aloe vera protect the gastrointestinal lining and alleviate intestinal discomfort (9).

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10. Turmeric

Turmeric Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 glass of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of water.
  2. Heat it for some time and add some honey to it.
  3. Drink the mixture.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this once daily to see the desired effects.

Why This Works

Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that boost digestive health and protect your intestines from further damage (10).

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11. Yogurt

Yogurt Pinit

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You Will Need

1 small cup of probiotic yogurt

What You Have To Do

Consume a small cup of probiotic yogurt.

How Often You Should Do This

You must incorporate yogurt into your daily diet.

Why This Works

Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, which are the good bacteria similar to your gut microflora. These act as the first line of defense and protect your intestine from infection and disorders (11).

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12. Vitamin D

Vitamin D Pinit

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You Will Need

20-100 mg of vitamin D

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume foods rich in vitamin D like yogurt, fish, cereals, soy, and eggs.
  2. You can also take supplements for vitamin D. Check with your doctor first, though.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this on a regular basis.

Why This Works

Vitamin D, like probiotics, restores the healthy gut bacteria. It also improves metabolism and helps treat digestive problems like inflammatory bowel disease (12).

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13. Green Tea

Green Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of green tea
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add half a teaspoon of green tea to a cup of hot water.
  2. Brew for 3 to 4 minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the green tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink green tea at least twice daily.

Why This Works

Green tea is an excellent source of polyphenols. Once inside your gastrointestinal tract, green tea activates intracellular antioxidants, which prevents damage to your gastrointestinal tract (13).

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14. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice Pinit

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You Will Need
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 glass of warm water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Extract the juice of half a lemon and add to a glass of water.
  2. Mix well and add some honey for flavor.
  3. Consume right away.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink the juice daily, preferably before breakfast.

Why This Works

Lemon juice flushes toxins out of your body and refreshes and rehydrates it. The juice also boosts metabolism, thereby aiding digestion and helping curb obesity (14).

What you eat and don’t eat has a major role to play in treating your digestive problems. In addition to the remedies listed above, the following diet tips will also help.

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Diet Tips

There are foods that boost digestive health, and there also are foods that can aggravate an existing condition. So, you must be conscious about your eating habits. We are here with two food lists – one that you should eat more of and the other that you need to avoid – to successfully combat digestive problems.

Best Foods For Treating Digestion Problems

  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Lean fish and meat
  • Bananas
  • Moderate amounts of ginger

Foods that you need to avoid as they can worsen your digestive issues are as follows.

Foods That Can Aggravate Digestive Problems

  • Fried foods
  • Chili peppers
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Certain berries
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and soft drinks
  • Corn

You also need to make a few changes to your daily lifestyle choices to prevent the recurrence of digestive issues. Here are some tips that will undoubtedly help.

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Prevention Tips

  • Quit smoking.
  • Cut back on acidic and high-fat foods.
  • Follow a healthy and high-fiber diet.
  • Indulge in light exercises at least 5 times a week.
  • Avoid regular use of medications like aspirin.
  • Avoid taking steroids and sulfa drugs (unless your doctor says otherwise).

Waste no time. Begin treatment right away. Any delay can cause permanent damage to your digestive system. In some cases, you may even have to opt for surgeries that involve the removal of your gallbladder, colon, or rectum. These can have a serious impact on your digestive health and further result in several other complications. If the home remedies are not effective, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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Hope this article has helped you make wise choices about your digestive health. For any questions, get in touch with us via the comment box below.

References

  1. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future” Molecular Medicine Reports, US National Library of Medicine
  2. Chapter 7 The Amazing and Mighty Ginger” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition, US National Library of Medicine
  3. Can everyday spices make you healthier?” Harvard Medical School.
  4. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of black pepper and piperine in gastrointestinal disorders” The Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine
  6. Aloe vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome: Trial on Iranian patients” Journal of Research in Medicinal Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
  7. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in digestive diseases” World Journal of Gastroenterology, US National Library of Medicine
  8. Yogurt and gut function“ The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oxford Academic
  9. Vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases: inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer” Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, US National Library of Medicine
  10. Pharmacological effects of green tea on the gastrointestinal system” The European Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine
  11. Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?” The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine

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