Why 74% of USA Reports Digestive Discomfort

Why 74% of USA Reports Digestive Discomfort

In This Article

¾ of USA Living with Digestive Discomfort

A recent survey found that 74% of Americans are regularly experiencing gas, bloating, altered bowel function, and abdominal discomfort.1

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re in this group, medications are often prescribed to slow bowel function and relax digestion, antidepressants are suggested to calm the nervous system, other medications are used to manipulate intestinal secretions to regulate the stool, and suspected undesirable bacteria are treated with antibiotics.2

Your doctor may also make certain lifestyle recommendations, such as:2

  • Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
  • Eat high-fiber foods
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep

More specific dietary recommendations may include avoiding wheat and dairy; foods that are known to produce gas, like carbonated beverages; caffeinated drinks; alcohol; raw fruit; and certain vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.2

Does the FODMAP Diet Work?

A dietician may recommend the FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligo- and di-monosaccharides and polyols, which are longer-chain sugars or carbohydrates very difficult to break down. Some people are sensitive to these FODMAP carbohydrates, such as fructose, fructans, lactose, and others. FODMAPs are found in certain grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.

Studies suggest that for a percentage of folks with gas, bloat, or other forms of gastrointestinal discomfort, a strict low-FODMAP Elimination Diet helps alleviate symptoms. Then, if successful, you reintroduce foods one at a time to determine more precisely which food may be the most powerful trigger.2,3

Getting off wheat, dairy, FODMAPs, and other foods that exacerbate your concerns makes sense. However, when studies on gluten-free and low-FODMAP diets from 1946-2017 were evaluated, it was concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend a gluten-free diet to reduce IBS symptoms. There is very low-quality evidence that a low-FODMAP diet is effective in reducing symptoms in IBS patients.4

Sattvic, Rajasic + Tamasic Foods

There are many factors that contribute to gas, bloat, and abdominal discomfort, and it starts with the kind of food we eat. Ayurveda suggests eating more sattvic foods and less rajasic and tamasic foods.

Sattvic Foods

Sattvic foods are whole, non-processed, and unrefined.

  • organic ripe fruits and vegetables in season
  • basmati rice
  • mung beans
  • ghee
  • yogurt
  • almonds
  • figs
  • dates
  • coconut
  • herbal non-caffeinated teas

Rajasic Foods

Rajasic foods are generally more stimulating.

  • spicy foods
  • salty foods
  • sour foods
  • overly sweet foods
  • coffee
  • tea
  • chocolate
  • ice cream
  • other nerve-stimulating foods

Tamasic Foods

Tamasic foods are heavy and dull.

  • leftovers
  • stale or rancid foods
  • unripe fruits
  • excess drugs
  • excess marijuana
  • excess alcohol
  • excess meats
  • excess wheat
  • excess garlic
  • excess onions
  • excess hard cheeses
  • excess eggs

Effect of Pesticides on Digestion + Lymph

Eating the right food is a good start, but the American diet, laced with pesticides, literally kills all the beneficial microbes that are naturally on our foods. These microbes are responsible in large part for manufacturing digestive enzymes we need to not become gassy, bloated, and plagued with abdominal discomfort.5,6 To resolve these digestive concerns, we must choose organic foods as much as possible.

Shelf-stable processed foods are preserved with highly refined vegetable oils that are not broken down by gut bacteria and end up congesting the lymphatic system, liver, and gallbladder. Congestion in lymphatic vessels that line the intestines is responsible for chronic bloating and holding extra weight around the middle. The liver and gallbladder are central to the coordination and production of stomach acid, pancreatic and duodenal digestive enzymes, and fat-metabolizing bile.

Learn more about the importance of liver and gallbladder function here.

Learn more about the role of the lymphatic system in digestion here.

Reset Digestive Function Ayurvedically

A broken-down digestive system from stress, bad foods, environmental toxins, pesticides, and a lifestyle totally disconnected from nature and circadian rhythms are all accounted for when treating the digestive system Ayurvedically.

Step 1

I have written many articles outlining the steps to reset digestive function and it seems to always start with repopulation of intestinal bacteria and reconstitution of the intestinal environment. I accomplish this with a one-month protocol of my three favorite soluble fiber-based prebiotics: slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root. This combination is taken along with a colonizing probiotic that adheres to the intestinal wall and is antagonistic to the proliferation of undesirable bacteria.

See also From Prebiotic to Probiotic: 4 Steps to a Healthy Microbiome

Step 2

Gas and bloat are commonly caused by a lack of coordination between the stomach’s production of acid, the liver’s production of bile, and the pancreas’s production of digestive enzymes.

For this issue, I use five common spices well-documented to reset upper digestive function, specifically addressing gas and bloat: ginger, fennel, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. These can be used in cooking, sprinkled on food, or taken in a capsule before meals in our Gentle Digest formula.

See also 5 Ayurvedic Spices to Rock Your Digestive World

Step 3

Two herbs that have been well studied to support healthy intestinal function and elimination are triphala and bilwa (Aegle marmelos)—both are found in LifeSpa’s Elim II, our leaky gut formula.

Bilwa is a kind and gentle herb that attaches to and removes excess intestinal mucus, allowing for natural healing of the intestinal lining and protection from opportunistic bacteria. Studies find that bilwa fruit benefits intestinal lining, supports healthy bowel function, and reduces abdominal discomfort.7-9

Triphala is a combination of three Ayurvedic fruits: amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. The three fruits together have been found in many studies to support natural restoration of healthy intestinal lining, while supporting healthy and normal bowel function.10

Triphala is also found to support proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, as well as replenish depleted protein in the intestinal villi of the brush border. Triphala has been found to support healthy bowel function for either loose or dry stools. Triphala has also been found to boost one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants, glutathione, in the intestines, lowering toxins like xanthine peroxidase and others in the intestinal epithelium.11

Learn more about our triphala-bilwa formula Elim II.

How is your digestion? If you’ve followed the above protocol, how did it go?

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Dr. John

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