Digestive Health Archive


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.

Curcumin supplements might ease meal-related discomfort

A small randomized trial in 2023 found that taking two 250-mg capsules of curcumin four times a day was as effective at relieving dyspepsia symptoms as taking one daily 20-mg dose of the heartburn medication omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid).

Long-lasting C. diff infections: A threat to the gut

Virtually everyone carries the bacteria Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff. But half a million Americans a year develop a serious C. diff infection due to a gut microbiome imbalance. It disproportionately strikes people in hospitals and nursing homes, and can recur repeatedly.

Staying regular

"Regular" bowel movements can mean something different for each person. Some people have a bowel movement once or twice daily; for others, it's once or twice weekly. People should see a doctor if they notice a dramatic change in bowel habits or other symptoms, including fatigue, pain, unintended weight loss, bloody stool, or a change in stool consistency. People can promote digestion by maintaining a toileting schedule, heeding their body's signals, and using a toilet stool.

How a healthy gut helps your heart

Following a plant-based eating pattern and cutting back on highly processed foods can help promote a more diverse, healthier microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome may decrease inflammation that promotes heart disease. Most fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are good sources of prebiotic fiber, which is broken down by gut bacteria to create short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are linked to lower inflammation and reductions in other heart disease risk factors.

Try this natural remedy to stay regular

Eating two peeled kiwifruits per day may help ease constipation, according to a small randomized trial published in 2023. The effectiveness of eating kiwifruits was slightly greater than that of using a daily fiber supplement such as Metamucil or Fiberall.

Hormone therapy linked to higher risks of GERD

A 2023 study suggests that women who have used menopausal hormone therapy are significantly more likely to develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

When — and how — should you be screened for colon cancer?

In the US population as a whole, deaths from colon cancer have been declining, but in people under 50 that rate has increased. Most major medical organizations recommend screening beginning at age 45 for people at average risk.

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