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Digestive Health 101: Feeling Good on the Inside and Out

(NC) The digestive system is best described as the body’s engine. Did you know that every day, eight different organs work together to process the essential nutrients needed for energy, growth, and rejuvenation?

Digestion is fundamental to good health, but a high proportion of Canadians – as many as 20 million, or 56% of the population – regularly suffer from digestive problems like heartburn, constipation and cramps.

According to Dr. Taz Bhatia, an integrative health expert, as well as a frequent contributor to the Dr. Oz Show, and the author of the new Random House book called The 21-Day Belly Fix, digestive discomfort should not be considered inevitable.

“Even though many people experience digestive problems on a regular basis, there is a stigma that causes us to be embarrassed by them,” she points out. “Therefore, we are often reluctant to seek treatment – and that can only complicate matters. My advice to any patient is to do your body a favour and make the basic lifestyle changes that can lead to optimal digestive health, and seek extra help when you need it.”

Dr. Taz recommends the following tips for healthy digestion:

  1. Fibre, fibre, and more fibre.A balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, keeps food moving through the digestive tract.
  2. Drink water.Staying hydrated is also a fundamental component of good health. Drinking water throughout the day and avoiding carbonated beverages will help ensure that the digestive tract is lubricated, which facilitates the flow of food.
  3. Know when to seek treatment.When the body is dehydrated, the intestines compensate by drawing water out of food. This in turn leads to constipation, a common digestive disorder that affects one in four Canadians and is best defined as infrequent or difficult bowel movements. A recent study by the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation with support from RestoraLAX, reveals that many people who suffer from constipation report a negative impact on their productivity and overall quality of life.

According to Dr. Taz, the first line of defense against occasional constipation is to help water work in the digestive system more effectively.

“After proper hydration and use of natural therapies, I often advise my patients to try an over-the-counter treatment called PEG 3350 laxatives, which can give water a boost,” she explains. “When the first signs of constipation occur, try one of these solutions before resorting to the strongest option on the pharmacy shelf.”

Working with the body’s natural functions, PEG 3350 laxatives draw water into the bowel to soften stools and increase the frequency of bowel movements. Available over the counter at pharmacies and drugstores, this type of laxative is recognized as being gentle and having relatively few side effects. They are different from stimulant laxatives, which trigger contractions of intestinal muscles and may lead to such side effects as gas, cramps and bloating.

Your health care practitioner can help with more information and other healthy digestive tips.



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