The digestive system is, of course, what facilitates one of the most important processes within the human body. Eating the right food is the first step, but to actually benefit from the nutrients and substances we’re consuming, our bodies need to process them in the correct way. Vitamins, minerals and energy need to be converted into a different form so they can interact with the cells in our organs, which is why the process of digestion is essential.
Understanding what causes changes to this system is equally important, but potentially difficult, which can necessitate professional input from a specialist. Dr. Jim Portal, a gastroenterology doctor from Bristol, is one such doctor and he points out the following factors commonly associated with abdominal pain, discomfort and disruption to the digestive system.
- Coeliac disease – More commonly referred to as gluten intolerance, a condition that is being diagnosed increasingly often, especially among women
- Anaemia – Disruption to your body’s system can be caused by iron deficiency
- Acid reflux or heartburn – These conditions can be triggered by various causes, including temporary diet changes as well as potential long term conditions.
- Infections – Temporary bacterial or viral infections can be a potentially serious issue and cause discomfort throughout your digestive system
- Cancer – In some cases, it can be a sign of cancer in the stomach, oesophagus or elsewhere in the body if you experience unusual digestive problems.
So why is there so much potential for things to wrong in the oesophagus, stomach, intestines and so on? The process is obviously quite complex because we can consume any number of different chemical compounds, and each one needs to be handled differently when it enters the body. The digestive system can be somewhat delicate, since maintaining a balance is essential for it to work properly, and different triggers can throw this balance off. For women the problem can sometimes be more noticeable, due to hormone differences that increase sensitivity.
Changes in diet are probably the most common trigger for some of the symptoms mentioned above, and the more serious problems are generally much less common, but it’s vital to be aware of the various symptoms and potential causes of gastrointestinal problems and related issues, especially in the wider context of women’s health.