The human body is made to adapt with many environments which enables humans to survive in many conditions. This also answers how our ancestors are able to live throughout different eras and living conditions. There are many systems functioning in the human body. Some people take supplements such as probiotic capsules to help preserve and improve their health and body function. In this article, we will understand more about the digestive system and common problems related to it.
Digestive system is made up of organs that digest food and liquids. It also helps absorption of nutrients and eliminating waste. The human digestive system includes mouth, throat, food pipe or oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine along with rectum and anus. There are many organs involved in the digestive system. Problems with digestive system are quite a handful numbers but here we will be focusing on 4 common ones:
1) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)- A disease that occurs when the stomach acid travels up to the oesophagus. GERD happens due to weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal valve (sphincter) caused by reflux of gastric contents. This acid causes irritation to the lining of digestive systems. People with GERD often complain of bitter taste in the mouth, feeling of the undigested food travelling up to the oesophagus or mouth and heartburn.
2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)- A disease affecting the large intestine. It is usually accompanied by symptoms of repeated pain in the abdomen and changes in the bowel movements, either diarrhoea, constipation or both. There are no visible signs of damage or disease affecting the digestive tract, hence, making IBS a disorder that is still not fully understood.
3) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)- A term used to describe conditions characterised by chronic inflammations of the digestive tract. IBD is divided into two types: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Differences between the two lies in the inflamed areas. In ulcerative colitis, the affected area is the inner lining of the colon whereas in Crohn’s disease, the affected area may occur in all layers of the bowel walls. Symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain or cramps, bloody diarrhoea and bowel movement issues. In some cases, it may lead to weight loss and fatigue.
4) Lactose intolerance- A digestive problem characterised by the body unable to digest lactose due to the low level of lactase (an enzyme to digest and breakdown lactose) produced by the small intestine. Lactose primarily can be found in milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance often have symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea and gassy after consuming food or drinks containing lactose. Lactose intolerance can be caused by several reasons such as from the ageing process, medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease and already developed from a young age.
If a person experiences symptoms related to digestive disorders, they should talk to a healthcare professional to find out what is the cause of the problems. It is only when the cause or diagnosis has been confirmed can help the person get the right treatment and medications. Although problems with digestive systems may seem harmless, some may actually lead to life-threatening conditions when left untreated. Hence, the best way to avoid such complications is to immediately get medical advice when a person notices something is wrong with the way they eat, changes in the bowel movement and other feelings of discomfort regarding organs involved in the digestive system. A person should always practise healthy eating habits in order to preserve the healthy digestive systems. This is done by eating a balanced meal packed with fruits and vegetables. Aside from benefiting the digestive systems, a healthy meal on a regular basis helps to maintain a healthy body.