A healthy digestive system is an important part of a healthy body and as we age, most of us will experience digestive troubles on occasion. For some of us, the occasions add up enough to become annoying or downright alarming. Eating meals trigger a host of unpleasant symptoms ranging from vague abdominal discomfort to bloating, gas, nausea or heartburn.

Sometimes the discomfort begins during a meal, other times about half an hour later. A a medical workup often finds no physical or anatomical cause for it.

The doctor would call this “functional dyspepsia.” We usually just call it “indigestion” and deal with it as a “normal” part of aging, often trying a variety of over-the-counter medications or home remedies.

If you suffer from functional dyspepsia, you're not alone. Roughly 25% of the population is affected, and it hits men and women equally. While it's frustrating that the cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown, it's even more frustrating that there is no single cure.

But there are some simple things you can to do avoid an upset stomach, achieve digestive relief and maintain a healthy digestive system. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. You know your personal troublemakers: dairy products, spicy sauces, hard-to-digest vegetables, fizzy drinks.
  2. Eat small portions and be sure to chew food slowly and completely.
  3. Avoid activities that can result in swallowing excess air such as smoking, eating quickly, chewing gum, and drinking soda.
  4. Reduce stress. Try relaxation therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, or exercise (but don’t exercise right after eating).
  5. Don’t lie down within two hours of eating.
  6. Avoid gaining weight, and you might want to consider losing a few pounds.

Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to creating a healthy digestive system.



Harvard Health Blog: Digestive Disorders