In order to maintain a happy digestive system, we need to look after it by providing it with a healthy diet, with all of the essential nutrients that it brings. Here are some of the most common problems with the upper digestive system.
Disorders of the upper digestive system
Gallstones and gall bladder attacks - when a blockage occurs in the bile duct, it can bring on incredibly painful attacks, which can be triggered by certain foods, such as pork, onions and eggs. Gallstones are caused by cholesterol-based deposits, which gradually build up and which can become problematic over time.
Gastric reflux - also known as a oesophageal reflux or heartburn, this condition can be incredibly painful, causing burning sensations in the throat or the chest (near to the heart, hence the name), often becoming worse during the night. Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is often caused by too little stomach acid rather than too much, or from acid escaping from the stomach causing the unpleasant effects. For people who are under severe stress, the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, can bring on heartburn attacks, as the hormone release reduces the digestive system’s blood supply and leads to a lack of digestive function and secretions.
Because flavour helps us to stimulate the digestive system, bland food can sometimes be the culprit when it comes to heartburn. However, eating too much, or having a diet that is high in spices, citrus, meat and alcohol can also create a problem.
Ulcers - often suffered by older people, or people who use antacid medication, gastric (stomach) ulcers are caused by too much of the bacteria helicobactor pylori being present in the stomach lining. Symptoms to watch out for are weight loss, bloating, belching, and nausea - and also a dull ache experienced in the upper abdomen a few hours after eating, which is then relieved by consuming more food.
Pancreatitis - it is believed that this condition is caused by damage to the pancreatic tissue as a result of free radicals, and a deficiency of antioxidant nutrients. Acute pancreatitis is generally associated with another health issue, such as drinking too much alcohol, suffering from gallstones or the use of some medicines. Chronic pancreatitis can occur as a result of diseases such as coeliac and Crohn's or SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus). Both acute and chronic pancreatitis affects the output levels of the pancreas, and can result in pancreatic insufficiency.
The symptoms of pancreatitis include discomfort of the abdomen, the excessive production of gas leading to bloating, and loose stools with the presence of unabsorbed fat, due to meals not being fully digested.