It’s Thanksgiving week and we certainly hope gastric distress isn’t on the menu, but if it gets you, Dr. Adam Gorelick, Danbury Hospital gastroenterologist and physician member of the Western Connecticut Medical Group, offers the following helpful tips to help prevent common stomach problems.
“Even though most of us experience stomach trouble from time to time, such as heartburn, nausea, bloating, belching, and gas, most common stomach problems can be prevented,” Dr. Gorelick said. “Some important factors are your diet, stress level, and lifestyle preferences related to exercise, drinking alcohol or smoking.”
If you’re prone to heartburn or acid indigestion, avoid whole-milk dairy products, fatty foods, chocolate, nuts, tomato products, mint, citrus juices, and caffeinated beverages. Alcohol consumption can interfere with digestion by increasing stomach acids and decreasing production of pancreatic enzymes needed to break down foods.
If you are plagued by gas, avoid high-fiber foods like peas, beans and bran, but don’t eliminate these healthful options from your diet: simply eat them in small amounts to help your digestive system adjust, he said. “Other gas promoters include carbonated beverages and chewing gum.”
Additional tactics to reduce stomach upset include quitting smoking, losing excess weight and avoiding tight clothing — which put pressure on the digestive tract, causing gastric acids to back up into the esophagus.
“Exercise and relaxing meditation can also help keep your digestive system calm and working properly,” Dr. Gorelick said. “After a meal, give your digestive system a head start before going to bed or embarking on vigorous exercise. If symptoms persist, see your doctor. It’s not normal to have constant stomach upset.”
Diane Burke works for the Western Connecticut Health Network, which includes Danbury Hospital.