Health & Wellness Articles

What Does Digestive Wellness Really Look Like?

A Picture of Digestive Health

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You feel generally happy most of the time. Sadness, fatigue and other symptoms associated with depression can be linked to gut health. After all, many neurotransmitters live mostly in our guts--not our brains--so if our digestive system isn't in tip-top shape, it might affect our depression risk according to emerging research.
 
Your weight stays constant over time. Unexplained weight loss or gain can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as celiac disease or a thyroid disorder. Digestive issues such as malabsorption of nutrients or even (gulp) tapeworms or other parasites in the digestive tract can also affect one's weight and energy levels.
 
You have regular bowel movements that don't take effort. It's not the number of bowel movements you have a week that matters; rather the regularity of those movements. Healthy can be once a day, three times a day or three times a week. Although texture, softness and even color can vary substantially day to day and person to person, very loose, hard to control or painful stools are not normal. Speaking of, you should never see blood in your stool (even a dark black color can be a sign of blood). This can be a symptom of several diseases and conditions including ulcers, cancers, hemorrhoids or diverticulitis.
 
You sleep soundly through the night. While sleep disruptions have many underlying causes, digestive disorders can cause you to wake during the night because of acid reflux or because you feel the urgent need to have a bowel movement.
 
A healthy digestive system is able to process many types of food in many types of combinations at many times of the day or night--without causing disruptions to other bodily processes or interfering with your day-to-day life. There's no test you can take to find out if you have a healthy digestive system. The best way to determine if your system is functioning properly is to track it over time. If you're already keeping a food diary, add a note every day about how you felt after each meal and when and if you had a bowel movement. It may sound gross, but this kind of information can help your doctor make a correct diagnosis if you think you may have a problem.
 
This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, M.Ed., Licensed and Registered Dietitian. 
 
Sources
American Psychological Association, "That Gut Feeling," www.apa.org, accessed on November 26, 2013.

Mayo Clinic, "Heartburn" www.mayoclinic.com, accessed on November 26, 2013.

Mayo Clinic, "Irritable Bowel Syndrome," www.mayoclinic.com, accessed on November 25, 2013.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "Gastroparesis," nih.gov, accessed on November 25, 2013.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "The Digestive System and how it Works," nih.gov, accessed on November 25, 2013.

WebMD, "Chronic Constipation," www.webmd.com, accessed on November 25, 2013.
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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

Member Comments

  • This was a good article but it fails to mention other digestive distresses besides acid reflux. I personally have gallbladder issues not acid reflux and food bloats me depending on the particular food. I have to avoid many dishes because of my digestive problems. I hope people that read this realize there are many different digestive problems not simply the ones that are listed. - 3/26/2014 7:14:08 AM
  • I recently ate fresh beets and next trip to urinate resulted in pink urine. That was lots weird, so I of course googled it. Seems it is a condition of low stomach acid and that people actually drink beet juice to see if they have it. The article said foods-proteins were not getting fully digested and that had many side effects. Article also had a list of remedies. - 3/25/2014 5:48:41 PM
  • AMLASKIS
    Great article, I am bookmarking this to share with others and to reread every so often. - 3/25/2014 12:51:52 PM
  • This is a great article - Once I learned that I shouldn't feel bloated and exhausted after eating, I eventually came to realize that I have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I no longer have bloating, fatigue, or severe depression problems since cutting out wheat. I know, I know, it's not the case for everyone, but don't discount it if you're consistently experiencing those unpleasant symptoms. - 2/5/2014 7:06:59 PM
  • good article. Thanks - 2/1/2014 6:19:01 AM
  • LOLA_LALA
    I have a sturdy, cast-iron gut, for which I'm very grateful. But I don't have a "full" setting. I'm either empty or stuffed and don't seem to sense anything in between. It's probably because I love eating so much, so much! - 1/21/2014 11:04:31 AM
  • FABISERVANTES83
    I realize that after I eat most of the time I feel like I'm going to pop. - 1/15/2014 8:20:25 AM
  • I've suffered from constipation as long as I can remember. More recently I've been affected with mood swings and from reading this article it may be related in some part to my inability to adequately digest my foods. And, that may be because I eat too fast (I know and I'm always trying to slow down) and because I eat fast, my food does not get the proper enzymes at the chewing stage. I'm going to do the Good Belly Reboot and see if I can develop and hone better eating skills. - 1/7/2014 11:40:34 AM
  • CHEMOFATBGONE
    I found this article to be very helpful. I myself have some of these problems and am hoping to learn how to correct them. I also learned a few things I didnt know, like how much of your immune system is in your intestines...craz
    y! And that it can affect you emotionally, that explains a lot. I cant wait to let my Mom read this. Thank you - 12/27/2013 4:14:31 AM

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