- Bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea and constipation can be uncomfortable and annoying.
- The foods you eat, how you eat, and your state of mind can be the main reason why your gut is acting up.
- Identifying what’s causing your stomach problem can help you manage it.
Four Reasons You’re Having Stomach Problems
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. It’s a mouthful, that’s why there’s an acronym.
“They’re basically carbs that get fermented by gut bacteria and, for some people, they cause digestive symptoms like bloating and gas,” says Ariana Cucuzza, RDN, a nutritionist at the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
Consulting a nutritionist first before cutting out FODMAPs is a good idea. Avoiding FODMAPs may prevent gastro-distress, but they are found all over the food pyramid—in dairy, wheat, lentils, some fruits, and more—meaning you might miss out major nutrients too.
2. Crazy Deadlines
Unreasonable work deadlines and family commitments can stress you out. And your gut can sense that.
“The brain and the gut are constantly communicating with each other through the enteric nervous system,” explains Darren Brenner, MD, associate professor of medicine and surgery at Northwestern University.
“Some people may have diarrhea, while others get blocked up,” he says, noting how everyone reacts to stress differently.
Dr. Brenner recommends relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. These strategies can calm your mind, therefore, they can also relax your tummy.
3. A Blah Diet
The World Health Organization recommends eating a variety of foods. Choosing a variety of whole (i.e. unprocessed) and fresh foods every day helps in getting the right amounts of essential nutrients. It’s also beneficial for your digestive microflora.
“A more diverse diet helps create more diversity in your microbiome,” says Cucuzza. “Experiment with simple swaps, like adding different fruit to your oatmeal, or making a sandwich with collard greens instead of spinach.”
The more “good” bacteria you have in your gut, the more likely they’ll knock down the “bad” ones.
4. Nuts and Raw Veggies Overload
Cucuzza says these foods are harder to digest so it’s better to eat them sparingly especially if your digestive system is on the sensitive side, or you have a condition like ulcerative colitis.
“Roasting or sautéing high-fiber vegetables breaks them down, so they’re easier on your stomach,” Cucuzza suggests.
If you’re crazy about nuts, soak them overnight, or try nut butter rather than whole nuts.