Tips to Manage Pregnancy related Gastrointestinal issues

Gastrointestinal

Pregnancy is the most unexceptional moment in a woman’s life with a rollercoaster of emotions. As a baby grows, the body of a pregnant woman will change constantly thereby causing various gastrointestinal issues. Also, you may have a strong desire for all of the world’s delectable meals and go insane over them, but limiting your taste buds for a few months and being extra careful with your diet can be good for you and your child. Keep reading to find more details about common gastrointestinal issues during pregnancy and also some tips to manage it.

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How does your digestion change during pregnancy?

Pregnancy can give tremendous pressure to the digestive system of a woman. As the baby develops, it may press the oesophagus, stomach as well as intestine. This can result in digestive issues. Also, the elevation of pregnancy hormones including oestrogen and progesterone can impact digestion and cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea or vomiting, frequent burping, acid reflux, bloating, constipation. Every trimester brings about a variety of physical changes, many of which might affect the gastrointestinal system.

Also check, Foods to be avoided for pregnant ladies

Gastrointestinal issues1st Trimester2nd Trimester3rd Trimester
Morning sickness
Constipation
Diarrhea
Acid reflux
Food cravings
Food sensitivities
Upper GI pain
Bloating
Gall stones 

Although these are general symptoms, each person may experience them differently depending on their hormones and diet.

Also check, Foods to increase breast milk supply

Tips for managing the symptoms of pregnancy related gastrointestinal issues

Here are some common pregnancy related gastrointestinal issues and also some of the tips to manage the symptoms:

1.Morning sickness

Around 8 out of 10 pregnant women are dealing with morning sickness. It can cause nausea or vomiting as well as upset stomach.  Although the exact cause is unclear, experts believe that hormonal shifts are to blame.

Tips to manage morning sickness

  • Drink plenty of water. Sip water on a regular basis to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Try ginger, sour candies and mint 
  • Consume little low-fat and high-carb meals frequently
  • Eliminate nausea triggering foods and odours
  • Sleep more (Tiredness can increase the vomiting sensation)

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2. Diarrhea

Early pregnancy diarrhea and watery stool are frequently brought on by food changes and also hormonal shifts. Pregnancy raises the oxytocin hormone levels, which causes the digestive tract to contract more and function quickly.

Tips to manage diarrhea

  • Drink plenty of water. Sip water on a regular basis to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Add probiotics and prebiotics in your diet to improve the gut health and digestion
  • Try banana, buttermilk, boiled potato and rice water.
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods and limit dairy foods.

Also check, Home remedies for diarrhea

3. Constipation

Constipation is a very common problem during pregnancy. This can be caused due to the pressure in the intestine. As the baby develops, the progesterone hormone levels will significantly increase which leads to delay in the movement of intestines and constipation.

Tips to manage constipation

  • Increase the fluid intake 
  • Consume fibre rich foods like vegetables, sprouts and fruits
  • Include probiotic foods in your diet
  • Include simple physical exercises like walking in your routine

Also check, Fibre rich foods to prevent constipation

4. Acid reflux

Up to half of pregnant women will experience acid reflux when they reach their third trimester. Due to pregnancy-related hormonal imbalances,  the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach relaxes throughout pregnancy. Also, the pressure on the stomach also grows as the uterus expands. Acid reflux is likely to occur because of these issues.

Tips to manage acid reflux or heartburn

  • Instead of eating three full meals, eat small meals when you are hungry.
  • Don’t eat quickly
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods 
  • Don’t consume citrus fruits or juice.
  • Restrict your caffeine (coffee or tea) intake.

Also check, Home remedies for acid reflux

5. Bloating

Hormonal changes during pregnancy are one potential reason for bloating. As a result of the womb’s relaxation caused by pregnancy hormones, digestion is slowed. Bloating can be frequently associated with frequent belching and constipation.

Tips to manage bloating

  • Increase the fluid intake 
  • Consume fibre rich foods like vegetables, sprouts and fruits
  • Include probiotic foods in your diet
  • Avoid drinking fizzy drinks
  • Avoid gassy foods (some millets and legumes)

Also check, Foods that cause bloating

Foods that help to manage gastrointestinal issues

1.Probiotic foods
YOGURT:

Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, which helps in strengthening the digestive tract and also promotes gut health. It is high in protein, calcium, vitamins and also probiotics which can enhance the good bacteria in the gut. Yogurt is the best food for gut health.

Also check, Foods to increase breast size

KEFIR:

Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, which are high in good bacteria. The process of making is similar to yogurt, but the fermentation process in Kefir is for 24 hours. The result is not a sour curd, but rather a tasty one. You can also load it up with nuts, seeds and also berries to make a shake high in antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics.

Also check, 12 Best foods to increase breast milk quality

FERMENTED FOOD:

People have been using fermentation techniques from ages to boost food’s shelf life and to increase its nutritive values. It’s a process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert the carbohydrates in the food to acids, which act as a natural preservative and also promotes the growth of good bacteria. They are the best food to treat gastrointestinal issues. Some fermented foods are kimchi, made from fermented vegetables such as radish and cabbage; it’s a popular Korean dish. Miso is a Japanese seasoning, made from fermented soybeans. Sauerkraut is a traditional food of Europe and made from fermenting finely chopped cabbage. Traditional buttermilk is the leftover liquid you can get during the making of butter and also contains lots of probiotics.

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CHEESE:

Cheese is good for gut health. There are many kinds of cheese which are prepared by fermentation, but all do not contain probiotics. Only soft cheeses made up of unpasteurized milk, such as cheddar, mozzarella and also Swiss are rich in probiotics. The longer the cheese ages the more beneficial bacteria develops in it for your gut health.

Also check, How age affects libido in women?

KANJI:

Kanji is a popular Indian fermented drink, which contains lots of gut friendly bacteria (probiotics) which aids in digestion and also reduces bloating, gas and promotes a healthy gut. It has a tangy, spice and tart flavor. In India, it is used as a detox drink after festival binge eating, which helps in gastrointestinal issues. However, there are many ways of making kanji, the most popular is carrot kanji. It is made by fermenting carrots along with salt, mustard seeds and asafoetida (heeng).

Also check,What are some foods for healthy gut

2.Prebiotics
Onion:

It has prebiotic effects which strengthen gut flora, that help with fat breakdown and boost your immune system and improve digestion. Onion is also rich in antioxidants called flavonoids quercetin which help fight free radicals. Onion is also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins like folate (B9), pyridoxine (B6) and potassium, which aids in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function.

Also check, Home remedy to cure cough using onion?

Garlic:

Garlic is a prebiotic that is naturally high in inulin, a type of non- digestible carbohydrate that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and restrict disease causing bacteria from growing at the same time. Pickled garlic is best for gut health.

Also check,Easy to feed Omega-3 for kids brain development

Banana:

Apart from being rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin B9, it also has prebiotic effects and a small amount of inulin. Banana is high in fiber and prebiotics, both of which support smooth digestion.

Also check, 7 super nutritious foods for weight gain

Sprouted grains:

The concentration of fiber increases in sprouted grains. Fiber is one of the most important components for maintaining gut health. Fiber nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and also promotes elimination and detoxification of the colon.

Also check, What is the need to sprout grains?

Apple:

Apple has outstanding health benefits as it is rich in fiber, Vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium. It has pectin, a type of soluble fiber, which has prebiotic effects and also promotes healthy gut microbiota. Pectin increases butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and also decreases the population of harmful bacteria.

Also check, Benefits of apple and banana for kids

3. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are entirely healthy to eat during pregnancy when consumed in moderation. During pregnancy, it is advised that you limit your intake of nuts and seeds to no more than 100 grams per day. For example, you could consume four to seven almond pieces, around four walnut halves, few seeds and roughly eight pistachios at once. However, if you consume them excessively, you could have health issues like gastrointestinal problems and also excessive weight gain.

Also check, Best nuts and seeds for protein


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Bloating: Foods and Tips that help

bloating of stomach

Are you feeling your tummy got bigger today? Did you start thinking it might be because you ate too much last night, or you got too much gas? If so, yes! You may have bloating of stomach. There are many reasons behind bloating of stomach. It may be because of eating too much or too less, too much sugar or salt in the food, drinking too less water or from constipation. Continue reading to know tips and foods to reduce bloating.

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What is actually bloating of stomach?

Stomach bloating is a feeling of pressure, fullness, or tightness in the stomach. It is the feeling of fullness of the stomach with or without actual change in stomach circumference. In fact, bloating of stomach may be associated with swelling in the abdomen area that is visible. It may result in lighter discomfort to strong pain in the belly. The most evident reason for bloating is constipation. Apart from that, indigestion and hormonal imbalance may also result in bloating of stomach.

Causes of bloating of stomach:

1. Eating gassy foods:

Some of the legumes, millets and cereals are rich in oligosaccharides such as raffinose and stachyose. These oligosaccharides are sometimes not properly digested in stomach and small intestine due to high levels of insoluble fibre and they pass to the large intestine where they are fermented by gut bacteria to produce gas. Because of this, the person feels bloated after eating such foods.

Also, check Home remedies to solve allergy in kids

2. FODMAP:

FODMAPs refer to a group of carbohydrates that are not digested easily in some people. They may result in fluid build-up and gas trouble. FODMAPs include fructose present in honey, lactose in dairy products, beans and lentils, gluten-containing foods and also some foods such as apples, pears and cherries.

3. Eating too fast:

If you are a person with the habit of gulping down food too fast, you are more likely to have bloating frequently. When you engulf the food quickly, you swallow more air which may pass to your intestines and cause bloating.

4. Consuming fizzy drinks:

When you consume more fizzy drinks loaded with carbon dioxide gas, it may fill in your belly. Some of the gas is released through burping. The remaining gas may fill in tummy and pass to the intestines and even result in anal gas.

5. Drinking too little water:

When you consume fibre-rich foods and don’t drink enough water, it may tighten the stools and result in constipation. Due to constipation, you feel your belly is bloated and often feel pain in your stomach.

6. Eating junk foods:

Junk foods or fast foods are loaded with sodium, sugar and fat. They may be too easy to digest, but these processed foods cause an imbalance in your gut microflora. These microbes are responsible for the absorption of the digested nutrients in your body. So, any imbalance in the gut microbes might cause irritation and bloating of stomach.

Also, check HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES OF SUGAR FOR KIDS

7. Not moving enough:

Having a big and hearty meal is so satisfying right!! Yes. There’s no harm in having a big meal often. But if you are a person who goes to bed right after your meal, then you may suffer from indigestion and gastric problems ultimately leading to stomach bloating. Not giving importance to physical activity is the key problem here.

How long does it take bloating to leave?

It depends on the reason behind your bloating of stomach. In the majority of cases, it goes away in one night or maximum two days. In case of severe constipation, it may extend upto 4-5 days.

How to prevent or relieve bloating?
Eat probiotic-rich foods:

Probiotics refer to the live microorganisms when consumed in the right amount, resulting in health benefits to the body. These microorganisms are present in fermented foods such as yoghurt, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut etc. These microorganisms usually skip the digestion process and straight away move to the gut. In the gut, they help to maintain a good balance of healthy microbes that benefit the body in digestion.

Also, check 7 proven Gut healthy foods

Hydration:

It’s very important to consume 3-4 litres of water daily. When we consume fibre-rich foods, water helps to smoothen them and swell, helping in smooth bowel movements. Thus water helps in relieving constipation.

Prefer whole foods over processed ones:

When we consume complex carbohydrates rich in fibre, they help to maintain a good balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Thus by avoiding simple sugars, fizzy drinks and sodium-loaded foods and consuming whole foods such as whole-grain cereals, millets and pulses, fruits and vegetables, the gastric problem can be reduced.

Also, check Harmful health effects of Junk foods

Eat enough and move more:

It is important to listen to your stomach while eating. Eat only as required to fill your stomach. Don’t overload it. And having a small walk after your meal also helps in digesting the food. You also feel lighter. Involve in some form of physical activity daily.

Prefer a number of small meals a day rather than 2-3 bigger meals:

When you starve yourself for a long time, you indulge in more food than you require which ultimately leads to bloating and indigestion. Hence, it’s a smart move to have small meals every 2-3 hours because you don’t feel hungry all the time if you do so.

Avoid dairy if you are allergic:

Some people are lactose intolerant. That means, they cannot digest lactose in their food as they lack one type of enzyme ‘lactase’ which is important to digest lactose. So, it’s advisable to avoid dairy products if you feel bloated after consuming any dairy product.

Also, check Lactose Intolerance in Kids

Cook your veggies:

It’s healthy to eat a bowl of salad made of raw veggies, but some people may not digest the fibrous raw vegetables. So, it is important to cook your vegetables to reduce the bloating as the fibre breaks down while cooking.

Have an early dinner:

Your digestive system works very hard after you consume food. The digestive system slows down at night because of the low activity level. Hence it is advisable to have an early dinner or have at least 3 hour gap before you go to bed to make sure your food is digested properly.

Foods that help in reducing bloating of stomach:

PARTIALLY HYDROLYZED GUAR GUM: 

Guar gum is a fibre made from guar bean or Indian cluster bean. It is used as a laxative that normalises the moisture content of the stool, absorbing excess liquid in diarrhoea, and softening the stool in constipation. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best foods for helping in bloating.

PHGG is a water-soluble dietary fibre and is used to regulate gut function. According to the study conducted by NIH, intake of PHGG improves human stool form by regulating intestinal microbiota. It has also been useful in treating Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in both adults and kids.

Benefits of Guar gum:

  • Treating diarrhoea/ constipation and bloating
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Manages high blood pressure
  • Control diabetes
  • Weight loss
  • Enhance Mineral absorption
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS):

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are composed of short fructose chains. They are a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides. FOS occurs naturally in many plants. They are prebiotic fibres that support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. FOS is also a good source of soluble, dietary fibre and has been shown to reduce, or eliminate constipation and relieve bloating.

CITRIC ACID:

Citric acid is the weak organic acid found in the greatest amount in citrus fruits. We all have seen citric acid appear on the label of many products but don’t know exactly what citric acid is for our health. However, the primary reason for including this in any packaged foods is for its tangy flavour. But apart from this citric acid is associated with many health benefits also:

  • Citric acid helps to convert food into energy.
  • It enhances calcium, phosphorus and Magnesium absorption through the gut.
  • This also prevents calcium crystals or kidney stones from forming.

Also, check 11 Proven Foods for Proper Digestion

ORANGE EXTRACT:

Oranges are the food to boost immunity. They are not only nutritious and rich in Vitamin-C but also loved by kids. Just one orange can meet 100% vitamin C requirements for the kid’s daily nutrition.  The pith (white after between peel and fruit) of orange has 30% fibre of the fruit and this particular fibre (called pectin) is good for the gut which builds immunity, reduces bloating and supports digestion.

PAPAYA:

The papaya fruit contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. They can help with digestion, reduce bloating, inflammation and also improve gut health. Papaya is also high in fibre and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract. Also, it is a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and lycopene, and pantothenic acid.

LEMON:

Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and have a potential to reduce gut inflammation and boost the immune system. Lemons are high in a fibre called pectin, which is a prebiotic that assists good gut health by feeding healthy gut bacteria.

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