While your tastebuds may revel in the delicacies that you consume, your stomach might not be sharing the same enthusiasm for rich exotic meals. Check to see if you feel bloated after heavy meals and the sensation is accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating.
This is a sign of dyspepsia and you might be suffering from indigestion or an upset stomach. Experts say apart from over-eating, eating too quickly, eating spicy or fatty foods, lying down too soon after eating and other factors like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, side effects of medicines (especially non-steroidal/anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen) can cause indigestion and some times the problem of indigestion can also be an indicator of more serious problems like stomach ulcers and even stomach cancer.
Stomach ulcers or gastric ulcers affect the first part of the intestines and are also known as a duodenal ulcer. The most common symptoms are waking at night with upper abdominal pain that improves with eating. The pain is often described as a burning or dull ache. Other symptoms include belching, vomiting, weight loss, or poor appetite.
Experts say that stomach cancer may also have similar symptoms that may include heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite. Later signs and symptoms may include weight loss, yellowing of the skin, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and blood in the stool among others.
Dyspepsia during pregnancy
The most common cause of dyspepsia in pregnancy is GORD (Gastrooesophageal reflux disease). Dyspepsia does not usually cause complications in pregnancy and is likely to get resolved after giving birth. Lifestyle, eating habits and use of over-the-counter medicines such as antacids should also be checked during this time. Lifestyle advice is the usual first line of management, especially in the first trimester. If symptoms are more severe, or persist despite treatment with an antacid or alginate, gynecologists consider prescribing an acid-suppressing medicine. As with any medicine used in the first trimester of pregnancy, treatment should be with the minimum dose for the shortest time.
Eat plenty of fibre every day. Fibre is not only key to keeping indigestion at bay, but also essential for your overall health. Unfortunately, a lot of people’s diets consist of junk and fatty food and red meat, that are a certain recipe for indigestion. A high-fibre diet is an important part of healthy eating – in addition to helping digestion, it can also help prevent diabetes, coronary heart disease, hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer and other diseases.
Drink lots of water
Water can help lubricate food in the digestive tract, dissolve minerals, vitamins and nutrients for easier absorption, and prevent constipation.
Chew your food
Chewing is one of the most important parts of digestion, yet it is probably the most forgotten. Chewing not only helps break down food but it also signals the salivary glands, stomach and the small intestine to start releasing digestive enzymes.
Do not overeat
Your body has only so many digestive enzymes to go around. Exercise regularly and avoid stress. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise can also help with digestion. A scientific study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal has shown that physical activity can actually help reduce many digestive problems. In the study, scientists found a link between lack of exercise and obesity, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Stress on the other hand, can have a negative effect on your digestion. This is because, in most people, the “fight or flight” response that results from stress reduces blood flow to the abdomen and the production of digestive enzymes, and slows the digestive process, which results in heartburn, bloating and constipation.
Don’t overuse antacids
Acids in the stomach help the body digest food – however, in some cases, these acids can “reflux” or back up into the esophagus, thus causing the burning sensation of indigestion. When this happens, we often reach for antacids – usually an over-the-counter type that works by neutralising stomach acids. However, when overused, antacids can cause the stomach to lose its function and leave it vulnerable to bacterial infections.
Take digestive enzyme supplements Digestive enzymes derived from plant sources can help promote good digestion and even enhance nutrient absorption. Taking enzyme supplements can reduce the symptoms of indigestion and upset stomach. Even in healthy people, taking extra enzymes can help maintain digestive health. A good digestive enzyme contains a mix of amylase, lipase, cellulase (for digesting plant fibers), and protease.
Stay watchful Indigestion can certainly be a symptom of a serious digestive disease. So in addition to eating healthy and taking a digestive enzyme supplement, don’t forget to check with your physician if you have frequent episodes of indigestion.
Health experts say that anyone with indigestion should see a general practitioner immediately if he/she has any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting blood
- Black stools
- Losing a lot of weight
- Having trouble swallowing