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Preventing Digestive Problems

Some digestive diseases have genetic components, and others may occur for unknown reasons. But many disorders of the digestive system can be prevented or minimized with simple solutions, like changing your diet or exercise habits.

  • Gastrointestinal Health

    • You might be able to prevent heartburn, or acid reflux, simply by avoiding rich or highly acidic foods. But if that’s not enough, try eating smaller meals. Drink more water and save soda or alcohol for special occasions. Don’t eat close to bedtime. Elevating the head of your bed may also help.
    • Exercise is important for maintaining your gastrointestinal health, especially as you age. Aim for at least two and half hours each week, and mix cardiovascular activity with muscle-strengthening routines.
    • Maintaining a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prevent constipation, bloating or excessive gas. Although some high-fiber foods like beans can initially cause flatulence, your body will adjust as it grows used to the changes. Soluble fiber supplements may also help regulate your digestion.
    • Practice food safety when cooking at home to avoid unnecessary bacteria that could cause diarrhea or worse. Make sure vegetables are properly washed, meat is cooked to the appropriate temperature, and kitchen counters and cookware are sanitized and free of cross-contamination.
    • Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Smoking can make digestive problems worse, and excessive alcohol can lead to cirrhosis or cancers of the stomach, liver, pancreas and colon.