DIGESTIVE HEALTH: FACT VS. FICTION

 1 year ago


Myth 1: The More Fiber, the Better.

Tired of having bran cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Maybe it’s time to ease up. Most experts agree that you need to get 25-30 grams of fiber per day for good digestive health. It is difficult for many to reach 25. However, some aim to go above and beyond the recommended amount. Should we? No! Not only is reaching 25 grams an accomplishment in itself but going above and beyond can be troublesome for your gut. For people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the increase in fiber isn’t as important as the type of fiber. Research shows that insoluble fiber, like bran, may aggravate IBS symptoms. What is more important is an intake of soluble fiber such as psyllium that can offer a reduction in IBS severity. Either way, it is very important to increase fiber intake gradually (2-5 grams per day) to avoid discomforts such as gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.

Myth 2: Nuts Lead to Diverticulitis

This is a common myth among people with diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a condition in which pockets in the intestine become inflamed and irritated. If you have diverticulitis, you may have been told to avoid nuts, corn, popcorn, and food with small seeds. You may also have been told that these foods might worsen or even cause diverticulitis by lodging in pouches along your intestine. However, researchers have looked at the health records of more than 47,000 men and found no connection between these foods and diverticulitis. New studies suggest that people who eat a high-fiber diet have a lower risk of the disease, and the main culprit of diverticulitis is a low fiber diet.

Myth 3: You Will Know if You Have Cancer

There are usually no symptoms of colon cancer until its later stages. This makes early detection important with routine colorectal checks. Those at risk of colon cancer should start getting tested at age 50 through a CT scan of the colon, a colonoscopy, or a colonoscopy. Talk to your board-certified practitioner about which one is right for you.

Myth 4: Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day.

The frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person. For some, three a day is regular and for some it is three a week. Perfectly healthy people can fall outside both ends of this range. Nevertheless, even three bowel movements a day can be abnormal in someone who usually has one bowel movement a day. If you have had a change in your frequency, it is best to speak to your practitioner to make sure there are no underlying issues.

Myth 5: Spicy Foods Cause Ulcers

Bring on the tabasco sauce and Texas chili! Hot sauce lovers you may now rejoice! People used to believe that too much spicy food would give you an ulcer. But now we know the majority of stomach ulcers are caused either by infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or by use of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Spicy food (and stress) may exacerbate ulcer symptoms in some people, but they do not cause ulcers.

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