How To Balance The Digestive System

Living with digestive problems is such a struggle, 43% of the population in the United Kingdom suffers from tummy pain and digestive problems. Poor digestion and an unhealthy digestive system lead to upset and annoying symptoms affecting a patient's quality of life.

What causes poor digestion?

Poor digestion occurs due to many factors, it could be genetic, or due to poor lifestyle or a disease that affects normal gastrointestinal motility:

  1.  Poor gut health may be anatomical issues as in case of GERD and leaky gut syndrome:
    • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), a condition due to weakened esophageal muscles, where the stomach acid backs up instead of staying in the stomach. The more it happens, the more inflamed your esophageal lining and the heartburn becomes worse
    • Leaky gut syndrome is when intestinal lining is impaired and becomes more penetrable to toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream. Characterized by digestive issues in addition to non digestive symptoms as skin issues and headache
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term condition of unknown cause affecting the digestive system. Symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps and abdominal pain, change in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea or both
  2. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by ingestion of gluten. It is due to an adverse reaction to gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. Symptoms of coeliac disease include diarrhea or constipation, bloating and indigestion
  3. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is characterized by abnormal increase in the overall bacterial population in the small intestine, causing digestive problems such as stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  4. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, where the lining of the colon, rectum or both become inflamed. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include bleeding stools due to ulcers, abdominal pain, diarrhea, malnutrition as the inflammation causes the bowel to move its content rapidly and empty frequently
  5. Crohn’s disease is another type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, it is characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloody stools, loss of appetite and weight loss
  6. Helicobacter pylori sometimes do not have symptoms, however it may lead to digestive problems such as discomfort, bloating, ulcers, loss of appetite
  7. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes causes gastroparesis, a condition that leads to damage of the vagus nerve which contributes to how long food stays in your body. Digestive symptoms are due to remaining food staying too long in the body
  8. Unhealthy lifestyle including unhealthy diet high in processed food and fats such as fried food, burger, chips. and a high sugar content diet. High stress levels, too little sleep also may cause chronic digestive issues
  9. Gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms living in your intestine. Some of these microorganisms are harmful bacteria, but the majority of them are beneficial bacteria and essential for a healthy gut. So any bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract will cause digestive issues and this helps us indicate how important it is to have good bacteria and avoid increasing amounts of bad bacteria
  10. Taking too many antibiotics affects the normal bacterial balance in your gut system
  11. Intolerance to food (food sensitivities) like lactose intolerance causes digestive disturbances such as bloating, nausea and diarrhea

    Can digestive imbalances cause problems?

    Healthy gut reveals health overall health, while unhealthy gut may cause conditions and diseases that affect health and body functioning:

    1. Autoimmune diseases

    There is a link between gut health and the immune system. Unhealthy gut increases systemic inflammation leading to change in proper functioning of the immune system. Causing autoimmune disease when the body starts attacking itself.

    1. Skin irritation

    Skin conditions such as psoriasis may be related to the type of bacteria present in the gut.

    1. One of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic ulcers and inflammation that may develop on long term colon or stomach cancer

    What are the symptoms of digestive deficiency?

    There is a variety of signs and symptoms related to unhealthy gut:

    1. Upset stomach 

    Signs of stomach disturbances as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea and heartburn.

    1. Chronic fatigue may be due to digestive imbalance
    2. Sleeping disturbances as serotonin that is responsible for mood and sleep is produced in the gut. Unhealthy gut leads to insomnia and poor sleep
    3. Unintentional weight changes

    One of the signs of an unhealthy gut is gaining or losing weight without diet changes or exercising. Imbalanced gut health decreases the body's ability to absorb nutrients and regulate blood sugar. Weight loss may be due to small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) while weight gain may be due to increased inflammation.

    1. Mood changes such as depression and anxiety may be a sign of impaired gut health
    2. Migraine and headache especially if associated with nausea and vomiting due to an unhealthy gut

    How can I increase digestive levels in a natural way

    • A diet rich in fibre is necessary to help digestion. Increase fibre intake in daily diet, it is recommended to take 30 grams of fibre a day. Sources of fibre intake includes: 
      • Fruits and vegetables
      • Beans
      • Oats
      • Wholemeal bread
    • Drinking plenty of fluids especially water, to help better digestion and soften the stools
    • Probiotics help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the digestive tract, where any disturbance in natural bacteria balance in the gut will lead to illness. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that when taken in sufficient amounts have various health benefits. Probiotics are also known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria, probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods and cultured milk, and there are also manufactured probiotic supplements

    But we have to ask how probiotics help better digestion: 

    • Probiotic lower pH level:  the lower the pH level in the colon, the better the digestion and faster the stools will move through
    • Help absorb proteins as well as other vitamins and nutrients
    • Probiotics help treat diarrhoea, especially antibiotic related diarrhoea
    • Probiotics reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis

    Tips for better balance digestive health

    • Balanced diet containing high fibre instead of processed food
    • Don’t forget to drink enough water
    • Eat more lean meat, fish, drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
    • Eat grilled food rather than fried food
    • Eat fermented food
    • More probiotic intake either through probiotic supplement or probiotic food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, greek yoghurt and kombucha
    • Healthy eating and adding raw food in your daily diet
    • Healthy lifestyle, good night sleep and exercising

    What to avoid?

    • Avoid spices for a healthy gut and to avoid tummy troubles and heartburn
    • Avoid fatty and processed food as fried food, because it is harder to digest and causes stomach pain and heartburn
    • Avoid high sugar diets
    • Avoid gluten in case of coeliac disease
    • Avoid stressful life

    Benefits of having balance digestive system

    Now we know how to balance the digestive system, but what are the benefits of having a balanced digestive system? 

    When we start thinking about what is a healthy gut, we consider gut microbiome which has been linked to overall health and link between gut health and immune system, mental health, cardiovascular system, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders. Healthy and balanced digestive system leads to a better overall health, stronger immune system toward infections, increase in energy levels and improved mental health, hair and skin. 


    Digestive system is the window to good health. Inflammatory bowel diseases and imbalance intestinal bacterium causes digestive deficiencies and annoying symptoms. Maintaining a balanced digestive system by healthy eating habits, adding probiotics to diet, considering what causes tummy problems and avoiding it to get a healthy gut and healthy life as well. 


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    This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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    Noran Kotaem

    Bachelor's degree, Dentistry, The British University in Egypt

    Noran is a dentist and a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Dentistry in the British university in Egypt. Passionate about research, reading and writing in the fields of medicine, nutrition and lifestyle. Keen to learn more about evidence based scientific research and writing. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
    Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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