Gastrointestinal Health & Digestive Problems

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  • 0:02 Gastrointestinal Tract
  • 1:06 Gastrointestinal Health
  • 2:38 Common Digestive Problems
  • 5:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

In this lesson, you will learn about digestive health, your gastrointestinal tract and what you can do to keep it healthy. You will also learn about symptoms of common digestive problems.

Gastrointestinal Tract

Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the organ system responsible for turning the food you eat into nutrients, which your body uses for energy, growth, and to keep your cells working properly. Your GI tract, also known as your digestive tract, is a long twisting tube from your mouth to your anus, which is about 30 feet long in most adults! That is about the size of a recreational volleyball net!

Your GI tract is made up of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus that coordinate the movement of food and manufactures enzymes and hormones to aid in the breakdown of food. A healthy GI tract is essential to gastrointestinal health and good health in general because if your digestive system shuts down, your body cannot nourish itself or rid itself of waste.

Gastrointestinal Health

Taking control of your gastrointestinal health can help you improve your overall health. Your digestive health is directly impacted by the foods you eat and the lifestyle you live. Drinking plenty of water and consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential because they contain important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that provide a multitude of health benefits in addition to keeping your GI track healthy.

Getting plenty of dietary fiber is important as well. The main function of fiber is to keep your digestive system healthy and working properly. It provides bulk to your stool, keeps your bowel movements soft and regular, and helps prevent constipation.

Prebiotics, a type of fiber that cannot be digested by the enzymes in your small intestine, but is broken down partially or completely by bacteria in your large intestine, stimulates the growth of helpful bacteria in your colon. It can help maintain a healthy digestive balance. Prebiotics are found naturally in certain foods such as bananas, onions and garlic. Mild to moderate intensity exercises can help to improve the efficiency of digestion and elimination, but very high intensity, rigorous exercise may have an adverse effect.

Common Digestive Problems

Health problems that occur in your GI tract can be classified as digestive problems. Here are some common digestive problems and their possible symptoms:

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