Digestive Health Archive


Surprising symptoms of chronic heartburn

Chronic heartburn is sometimes characterized by symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions. This can cause heartburn to go undiagnosed. Examples of nonspecific heartburn symptoms include chest pain or pressure that mimics a heart attack; a dry cough, sore throat, or hoarse voice that seems like it's related to a cold; or mouth sores, ulcers, erosion or wear on the teeth, or cavities. When any of these symptoms occurs regularly, heartburn should be considered as a potential cause.

How — and why — to fit more fiber and fermented food into your meals

A healthy diet is key to a healthy gut microbiome, which helps the immune system function well and reduces chronic inflammation among other important tasks. And increasing evidence suggests that fiber and fermented foods can play important roles in gut health.

Spring cleaning? Prioritize your fridge and pantry

Food-borne illnesses are common, sickening 48 million Americans each year, hospitalizing 128,000, and killing 3,000. One way to keep food safe is to clean the refrigerator and pantry regularly to cleanse surfaces and purge dated and possibly contaminated products. The process should include taking all items out of food storage areas, washing all surfaces, checking expiration dates, assessing products' smell and appearance, marking dates packages are opened, and avoiding cross-contamination between raw and ready-made foods.

Antidepressant may help manage irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

A 2023 study suggests that taking low doses of amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant also used to treat nerve pain, may be one of the best pharmacologic choices to help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Does your gut affect your risk for Alzheimer's disease?

A 2023 study of lab animals suggests that the population of microbes in an individual's gut may influence the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers found that healthy lab rats developed signs characteristic of Alzheimer's disease when they were injected with gut microbe samples from people with Alzheimer's. Rats that received samples from the most severely affected Alzheimer's patients developed the greatest brain abnormalities and memory problems. Rats did not develop these problems when they were injected with samples from people who had no signs of the disease.

Why does coffee help with digestion?

For some people, drinking coffee has a laxative effect. Coffee triggers colon contractions and stool movement, a process heightened by its caffeine content. Women prone to constipation might find a morning cup of coffee helpful, but drinking excessive amounts may worsen the symptoms of certain health conditions.

Prebiotics in plant-based foods may help control unhealthy eating

A 2023 study suggests eating more prebiotics—compounds found in plant fiber that nourish healthy bacteria in the gut—may affect the brain's reward network in a way that helps people make healthier food choices.

Chest pain: Causes other than the heart

Most cases of chest pain don't signal heart problems. While chest discomfort of any kind should never be ignored, many conditions can trigger it. These include gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallstones, asthma, ulcers, anxiety, COVID, esophagus spasms, costochondritis, pulmonary embolism, pleurisy, aortic dissection, and pericarditis. Chest pain is likely to be unrelated to the heart if it's brief, triggered by eating, doesn't worsen with exercise, occurs only with movement, coughing, or breathing deeply, or it's localized to one spot.

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