The digestive system is a complex series of organs which are uniquely designed to transform food into essential nutrients (that the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair). A healthy digestive system is vital for the normal functioning of our body. However, there are innumerable factors which can affect digestive system function. Read on to discover some of the important reasons your digestive system does not function properly.
Here Are 15 Reasons For Improper Functioning Of Digestive System:
Magnesium, the fourth most plentiful mineral in the human body, is vital for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Any deficiency of this critical nutrient can cause a marked decline in the production of digestive enzymes – which help the body to absorb and utilize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Magnesium deficiency can also affect the contraction of the smooth muscles which line the digestive tract. Slow or improper peristaltic function can lead to severe constipation. Finally, prolonged magnesium deficiency can result in chronic intestinal inflammation which can impede normal digestive function.
Imbalance of Gut Flora
The intestinal micro flora which consists of a complex ecosystem involving 400 bacterial species is crucial to ensure proper digestive functioning. Gut flora plays a pivotal role in nutrient digestion, vitamin synthesis, for energy metabolism and also in preventing growth of pathogenic bacteria. However, any deficit in this micro-biome can affect normal digestion and fecal excretion. Prolonged imbalance of these beneficial bacteria which reside inside the gut can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Excessive stress can slow down the flow of nutrient rich blood to the digestive tract, hamper the normal contraction of digestive muscles and also slow down secretions which are vital for proper digestion. Chronic stress can cause severe inflammation of the GI (Gastro Intestinal) tract – which can increase the risk of infections.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium have an adverse effect on normal digestive processes. Continued exposure to heavy metals, which is present in the food that we eat, can destroy the delicate blood vessels in the digestive tract. This can lead to chronic internal bleeding – which in turn increases the risk of anemia. Toxic metals can cause severe heartburn. They can also increase the risk of stomach, colon, pancreatic and rectal cancer.
Lack of Digestive Enzymes
The body has a difficult time digesting food, when there is a marked decline in the production of digestive enzymes. A lack of digestive enzymes can cause a buildup of undigested food in the stomach. This can lead to chronic indigestion and severe heartburn. Inadequate production of digestive enzymes can also cause bloating, excruciating stomach pain and even result in lactose intolerance.
Food intolerance also referred to as non-allergic food hypersensitivity or non –IgE mediated hypersensitivity can affect the digestive system in more ways than one. Food intolerance (like lactose intolerance) can cause the improper absorption of vital nutrients by the small intestines. Individuals who are intolerant to specific foods will suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and / or constipation.
Low Stomach Acid
Hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid levels – which arise when the stomach is unable to produce hydrochloric acid – can increase the growth of harmful bacteria (inside the gut). These bacteria enter the intestines and cause dangerous infections. Low stomach acid levels leads to mal-absorption of vital nutrients including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12. A sudden dip in stomach acid levels can also affect the synthesis of proteins into amino acids. Hypochlorhydria increases the risk of stomach cancer as well.
Natural Ageing Process
The natural ageing process can give rise to numerous types of digestive disorders. As one grows older the smooth muscles which line the digestive tract become weaker and therefore less effective. Some common digestive disorders which are linked to the natural ageing process include abdominal pain, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, peptic ulcers and / or diverticulitis.
Lack Of Sleep
There is a definite correlation between poor sleeping habits and digestive problems. Insomnia can lead to an increase in blood cortisol levels. A sudden rise in the levels of the hormone cortisol can lead to fat accumulation around the abdomen. Studies indicate that abdominal fat deposits can lead to an unprecedented increase in ‘bad bacteria’ inside the intestines – which in turn can lead to digestive disorders. Heartburn, constipation and stomach ulcers have all been linked to lack of sleep.
Excessive Consumption of Sugar
Consuming excess amounts of sugar can lead to candida yeast overgrowth inside the gut. A sudden spurt in the growth of harmful bacteria (inside the intestines) manifests itself in the form of painful stomach ulcers, leaky gut syndrome and bloating. Consuming highly sweetened food and drink over an extended period of time can lead to a depletion of many important minerals including magnesium which are vital for the normal functioning of the digestive tract.
Overuse of Antibiotics
Excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics can negatively affect the digestive system. Antibiotics can alter / disrupt the bacterial strain which reside inside the gut. Studies indicate that ceratin antibiotics can decrease the number of ‘good bacteria’ while simultaneously increasing the number of ‘bad bacteria’. A sudden spurt in the number of ‘bad bacteria’ not only damages the delicate lining of the bowels but it can also trigger extensive inflammation of the intestines.
Poor diet can interfere with the normal functioning of the digestive system. A diet lacking in essential nutrients can lead to an imbalance in gut flora. Nutritional deficiency increases the risk of hyperacidity, diarrhea and / or constipation. Additionally, a diet which largely comprises of high fat, low fiber processed foods can lead to chronic constipation.
Cigarette smoking affects the entire body, including the digestive tract. People who smoke regularly are at an increased risk of suffering from numerous digestive disorders including Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, acid reflux and heartburn. Smoking can decrease blood flow to the intestines. The harmful irritants in cigarette smoke can cause the delicate lining of the digestive tract to become highly inflamed.
Over – Exercising
Exercising in moderation is highly beneficial for the digestive tract. However, indulging in high intensity exercises for prolonged duration of time can throw the digestive system out of gear. High intensity exercises can lead to gastro-esophageal reflux syndrome, heartburn, bloating, nausea and / or vomiting.
Alcohol abuse can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients from the small intestine. Frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages can lead to severe heartburn. Alcohol abuse can cause leaky gut syndrome, constipation, pancreatitis and/ or irritable bowel syndrome. Alcoholism can also damage the delicate lining of the stomach. People who drink excessively have higher risk of suffering from intestinal cancer.