Digestive Health Archive


Healthy gut, healthy heart

The gut is home to trillions of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiota, which help with digestion, manufacture certain nutrients, and release various substances that have wide-ranging health effects, including on cardiovascular health. As diet plays a significant role in the composition of the gut microbiota, people's diet can indirectly affect heart health. Following a plant-based diet that emphasizes less red meat and more fiber can support the gut and its heart-healthy benefits.

You don't say? Facts about flatulence

It's normal to accumulate and release gas; in fact, the average person releases two liters of gas per day. Certain foods can increase gas production since they take longer to digest.

Prune juice for constipation? A new study says yes

Drinking about one cup of prune juice daily may help relieve chronic constipation, according to a 2022 study.

Heart disease and heartburn: What's the overlap?

Heartburn can cause chest pain that may be mistaken for a heart attack, and vice versa. Heartburn causes more a burning sensation and is more likely to occur after a large meal. Heart attacks are often described as a feeling of tightness or pressure and are more likely to occur after physical activity or stress. People who aren't sure about their symptoms should get to an emergency room for an evaluation as soon as possible.

Eating disorders in midlife

By age 40, one in five women has dealt with an eating disorder, twice the proportion of women known to be affected by age 21. Risks for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating can rise at midlife due to job stressors, an empty nest, and dating again after divorce or widowhood. Health effects can include bone loss, heart problems, lung conditions, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, and skin breakdown. Signs of an eating disorder include dramatic weight fluctuations, excessive exercising, and preoccupation with weight, calories, and body size and shape.

Do fermented foods live up to the hype?

Fermented foods and drinks such as kimchi, kombucha, and tempeh are increasingly popular, adding to mainstays such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and beer. Heat and bright lights during manufacturing can destroy some beneficial probiotics. Fermented products can ease digestion, dampen inflammation, boost nutrient absorption, and battle harmful bacteria. People should look for product labels that say "live and active cultures" and avoid shelf-stable versions, which don't contain probiotics.

Can taking enzyme supplements help soothe my bloating?

Digestive enzyme supplements are promoted to fix problems like bloating, gas, and bowel irregularity. However, for most people, there's little evidence that they help. Doctors may prescribe enzyme pills for people who can't make enough digestive enzymes because of a health condition.

Weighing the new approaches to treating Crohn's and ulcerative colitis

In recent years, treatment options for inflammatory bowel disease have expanded rapidly, with new types of drugs, new medications within existing classes, and new combinations of treatments for some patients.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.