How To Avoid Digestive Disorders


A benign gastric ulcer (from the antrum) of a ...

benign gastric ulcer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to learn how to avoid digestive disorders, it’s usually best to talk to a doctor. Here’s an article by a doctor who used to have stomach problems of his own, so he’s in the rare position of being able to speak from experience. If you’ve ever experienced constipation, and that includes almost everybody, you’ll know that it can cause a minor stomach pain. But if there is severe pain, the situation could range anywhere from ulcers to digestive disease to cancer. Obviously, you don’t want to spend time deciding whether you should see a specialist.

A lot of these problems occur because the mucous lining of the stomach has been damaged, allowing acids that are used for digestion to cause some harm. And it’s your lifestyle and what you eat that can cause this damage. Here are some of the things that can go wrong, ways to prevent them, and what you can do if you already have them.

DR. Kwan Keat Leong walks the talk. The consultant general and gastrointestinal surgeon at Tropicana Medical Centre in Kota Damansara, Selangor, doesn’t smoke or drink coffee and tea.  And though he says he loves everything delicious, he only occasionally eats hot, spicy and sour foods.

After all, these are what he’s always telling his patients not to do, especially those with gastric problems. He knows what they are experiencing as he himself has had gastritis too.

“Frequent use of painkillers, stress, increased stomach acidity and helicobacter pylori can also cause gastritis and peptic ulcers,” he says.

These conditions are just two of the many gastrointestinal problems, which may be divided into upper and lower digestive disorders. Apart from the two named, the former also includes gallstone, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and helicobacter pylori infection while the latter includes piles, haemorrhoids, colorectal cancer and constipation.

Abdominal pain can range in intensity from a mild stomach ache to severe acute pain. Often, the pain is nonspecific and as mentioned, can be due to a number of reasons.

But what effect does smoking have on the gut? “When smokers inhale, some of the smoke gets to the stomach and, like alcohol, it destroys the lining of the stomach,” explains Dr. Kwan, 42.


“Stomach or gastric acid is actually very concentrated with a pH of 1.35 to 3.5 and can burn if you take a drop and put on your hand. But our stomach cells are protected by a layer of mucous. When this layer is compromised, the acid attacks the stomach cells,” he adds.

It used to be that patients with gastrointestinal problems were aged 30 and above but these days, says Dr. Kwan, patients are getting younger. He’s even had a patient in the teens.

He blames it on the changing diet and lifestyle and the trend of western-style diets that emphasises on meat rather than vegetables. For the rest of the problems, continue reading here.

Dr. Kwan goes on to discuss GERD, gallstones, piles, and other more severe digestive disorders. And he stresses the need for your normal five a day (fruit and vegetables), because most people still aren’t doing this. That plus plenty of water, no smoking, spicy food or coffee, allows you to cover the basics, but since you might not get a second chance, it pays to take small steps to prevent problems from developing in the first place, instead of trying to figure out how to fix them.