With incidence of heartburn and obesity increasing in the United States, gastrointestinal problems are becoming more common.
Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor of medicine – gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine, offers three tips for improved gut health.
Avoid large meals
Eating large meals, especially those containing fatty and fried foods, can slow down the stomach. This causes a delay in the emptying of stomach contents and may cause acid reflux.
Qureshi recommends eating the last meal of the day at least three hours before going to sleep and having more frequent smaller meals throughout the day, instead of three large ones.
Make lifestyle changes
Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome may not digest certain carbohydrate sugars. Some foods may cause gas or bloating.
“IBS patients may benefit from a low FODMAP diet,” he said.
A list of guidelines for a low FODMAP diet is available. He said lifestyle changes including diet and exercise are necessary to keep the symptoms at bay.
Colon cancer screening is important
“Colon cancer is preventable if patients follow screening guidelines,” he said.
Screening with a colonoscopy should start at age 50, and if a patient has no polyps they should have a colonoscopy every 10 years after. Polyps can grow silently for years without showing symptoms, which is why screening is necessary, he said.