The human digestive system is how humans take in and then break down foodstuffs, allowing their vital nutrients to be absorbed into the body. This process also gives the body stored energy so that all systems can continue working. The digestive system is one of the most important ones in the body, but most people experience digestive disorders on a regular basis. Consider the most common problems associated with the human digestive system and how they occur.
1. Acid reflux or heartburn
The stomach contains a very strong acid that is needed to break down those foodstuffs and in turn, allow them to be absorbed into the remainder of the digestive system. To protect it, the inside of the stomach has a special lining so that the acid it produces does not harm its tissue.
However, this lining does not extend to other areas of the body as the acid is meant to be contained in the stomach. The top of the stomach has a small flap that allows food into it but then protects the esophagus from this acid. If stomach acid spills out over this flap and goes back up into the esophagus, this is called acid reflux and gives people the sensation they call heartburn.
This is a very serious condition as the acid in the stomach can do damage to the esophagus, causing small fissures that do not always heal. It is also a painful condition, with some sufferers even believing that they are experiencing a heart attack when they have acid reflux.
2. Constipation and impacted bowels
This condition occurs when fecal matter is not soft enough to pass through the lower intestine and to be expelled regularly. In extreme cases, surgery to cleanse the bowels can be necessary.
There are several factors that can contribute to constipation and a lack of fiber and hydration in the diet is the most common. Fiber helps to break down foods and move them through the digestive system, and water helps to soften the stools. Eating a diet high in foods that are difficult to break down such as red meat and certain dairy products can also cause constipation and eventually impacted bowels, and smoking damages the blood vessels in all areas of the body including the intestines so that they do not work properly to move fecal matter through the system.
3. Excessive gas and bloating
When certain foods break down, they create gasses as part of this chemical process. The body normally expels this gas on a regular basis and without concern, but too much gas in the stomach can cause bloating, irritation, and even severe pain. It can also actually put pressure on other areas of the body all the way to the upper torso.
Changing one’s diet can alleviate problems with excess gas, and medications can also settle the stomach. This will ensure a healthy digestive system that functions properly and that does not cause pain or embarrassment.