3 digestive woes that strike women and how to relieve them

If you’re a woman, it’s very likely you’ve experienced mild to moderate digestive issues at some point in your life.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, women have an increased sensitivity of the gut to different types of stimulation and are more prone to G.I. disturbances than men.

Women’s digestive tracts also empty slower than men’s, which makes it even more important and necessary for women to pay extra close attention to their digestive health.

So today, let’s take a look at how to naturally treat commonly occurring women’s digestive issues, including constipation and diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal bloating and discomfort

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1. Constipation

Constipation happens when dry, hard stools form in the lower intestine and bowels become sluggish due to lack of water. Surprisingly, diarrhea may occur because of severe constipation.

In most cases of constipation, there are a set of specific contributing factors, including diet, sedentary lifestyle, psychological stress, and medications. Here’s what I mean…

  • Poor diet – A diet consisting mainly of overly processed foods, little to no fiber, and diuretic beverages such as sugary drinks (soda, iced tea, fruit juice), alcohol, tea, and coffee.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle – Not getting enough exercise and prolonged periods of sitting cause the digestive system to become sluggish.
  • Psychological Stress – When adverse stress happens, muscles tighten, chemicals in the body change, and breathing becomes shortened and labored, all of which affect bowel function.
  • Medications – Many prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medications also contribute to constipation.

Constipation Solutions
The good news is you have the power to change the way you eat, move, handle stress, and manage your medications. Make it a priority to include a generous portion of fiber (20-35 grams) from vegetables, whole grains, and fruit every day! Fiber is necessary to create bulk in the gut, form stools properly, and help transport matter through the intestines. Remove sugary and diuretic drinks from the menu and drink water instead. Maintaining a steady regimen of probiotics will calm your digestive issues and “keep things moving,” too.

2. Heartburn

Women, like men, also suffer from heartburn, especially in pregnancy. Heartburn, also called acid reflux or GERD, results from too little hydrochloric acid (HCl), the “good” stomach acid, which breaks down food in the stomach. According to the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology, because women are more sensitive to irritants than men, they may experience heartburn more strongly than their male counterparts.

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While the causes of heartburn are broad, some of the more common causes include:

  • Certain foods – Chocolate, dairy, coffee and other caffeinated beverages, peppermint, onions, tomatoes, and high-fat foods.
  • Certain medications – Including those indicated for anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, angina, osteoporosis, pain and infection — and even HRT.
  • Lifestyle factors – Smoking, stress, being overweight or obese.
  • Pregnancy – Growing fetus puts pressure on the mother’s stomach

Heartburn Solutions
Diet plays a big role in preventing heartburn. Eating a diet of mainly alkaline-forming foods, and avoiding acid-forming foods is key.

  • Acid-forming foods – Eat less of these: Alcohol, barley, beer, beef, brazil nuts, bread, canned fruits and veggies, dried cereal, chocolate, cigarettes, coffee, most cooked grains, cornstarch, most dairy, drugs, eggs, fried food, flour, lobster, malt, pasta, pickles, popcorn, soft drinks, soybeans, sugar, artificial sweeteners, tea, table salt, wheat, and vinegar.
  • Alkaline-forming foods – Eat more of these: Most green vegetables, apples, apricots, avocados, baking soda, banana, beets, broccoli, berries, chlorella, kale, lemons, lentils, lima beans, limes, lotus root, mangos, mineral water, mushrooms, mustard greens, nectarine, onion, persimmon, pineapple, pumpkin seed, raspberry, sea salt, sea vegetables, seaweed, spirulina, sprouts, sweet potato, tangerine, taro root, vegetable juices, and watermelon.

Related: 6 ways to alkaline for a disease-fighting body

Two other things to help with heartburn are apple cider vinegar and baking soda:

  • Apple cider vinegar is a great preventative fix for acid reflux. Take 2 tablespoons in a glass of water 30 minutes prior to eating to help normalize stomach acid and prevent indigestion. It’s more effective if taken before a meal.
  • Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is perhaps the best remedy when heartburn hits. Drink ½ teaspoon mixed with a cup of water. It doesn’t taste good, but works great.

3. Abdominal Bloating and Discomfort

For women, there are natural and effective ways to relieve the digestive issues of stomach pain, cramps, and bloating, including applying heat, eating ginger, and sipping chamomile tea. Let’s take a look:

  • Applying Heat – Heat is excellent for cramps because it increases circulation. There are many ways to apply it: Hot water bottles, heating pads, and microwaved microbead packs. Apply heat for at least 15 minutes several times per day until tummy issues subside.
  • Eating Ginger – Ginger is one of the best remedies for all things stomach related. It helps reduce abdominal pain and inflammation, increases digestion, and reduces nausea and motion sickness. You can drink prepared ginger tea, make it yourself or cook with it.
  • Sipping Chamomile Tea – Slowly sipping a cup of chamomile tea is a great way to reduce stomach upset. Chamomile promotes relaxation and helps reduce stomach pain, tightness, and stress-induced upset.

If you suffer from any of these common digestive issues, before reaching for that pink liquid or prescription meds, give these natural solutions a try and see how they can work for you.

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Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.