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Bad Digestion – Dyspepsia

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Digestion and Modern Eating Habits

Digestion is an essential process for the life of humans and many other living organisms. Feeding is not just an instinct, but a pleasure, an indispensable ritual aimed at socialization and the very survival of the species.

Over the millennia, our organism has been subjected to a continuous process of adaptation necessary to cope with climate and environmental changes. Among these, a role of primary importance was played by diet.

From being a hunter and gatherer of berries and tubers, primitive man gradually moved on to agriculture and livestock farming, radically modifying both his life and eating habits.

If on the one hand all this has allowed for greater food availability, on the other it has decidedly limited the variety of foods present in the diet. From then until today, cereals have in fact constituted the essential basis of human nutrition.

Over the centuries, as social and economic conditions improved, additional foods were associated with these crops. Let's think for example of the introduction of corn and potatoes in the period following the discovery of America. Despite the evolution of agricultural knowledge, however, we must wait for the industrial revolution to be able to appreciate the first significant changes in the food sector.

Starting after the First World War, the economic wave that swept through the most industrialized countries suddenly expanded the availability of food. Over the course of a few years, the food industry has literally revolutionized the dietary habits of millions of people. In addition to the countless benefits deriving from this food boom, however, the foundations have been laid for many of the digestive problems that afflict millions of people around the world every day.

Overeating and incorrect eating habits are among the main factors underlying digestive problems.

Digestive difficulties, grouped under the generic term dyspepsia (from Greek “dys-pepsia“, or “poor digestion“), are responsible for symptoms such as loss of appetite, heavy stomach, tiredness, drowsiness, belching, bad breath, flatulence.

What is Dyspepsia?

The term dyspepsia refers to a condition summarily described by the patient as “bad digestion”.

It is estimated that around 30-40% of Italians suffer from digestive disorders. The strong increase and widespread diffusion of this problem in industrialized countries demonstrates how dyspepsia is a disorder linked to lifestyle and dietary habits typical of the Western world.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms of dyspepsia are located in the upper part of the abdomen and can include:

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Symptoms Indigestion

Cause

Causes of dyspepsia can be:

To these symptoms are added other less common ones such as headache, cough, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and sometimes vomiting. In order of importance among the causal factors of dyspepsia in first place is theHelicobacter pylori followed by NSAIDs and smoking and alcohol abuse.

Treatment

If all these problems are removed the digestive difficulties remain, we speak of functional dyspepsia, that is, a form of disease not linked to organic causes (dyspeptic disorders of a benign nature). In any case, there are very effective pharmacological treatments specific to the symptoms experienced.

Overeating and Dyspepsia

If food allergies or intolerances are excluded, our body is perfectly capable of digesting any food deemed edible.

However, digestion is a complex process, which requires a lot of energy from the body (about 15% of the daily calorie requirement). For this reason, calorie restriction is essential to ensure good digestion of food.

The purpose of dividing food into different meals is to make digestion easier while preventing the onset of uncontrollable hunger pangs. Condensing all the food into a single meal would instead be like concentrating an entire day's work in a few hours; the yield would certainly be very low and the nerves would not be able to withstand the stress.

On the contrary, giving yourself a regenerating break every now and then would help you regain energy and concentration to better face your work commitments. The same result can be achieved by consuming 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) possibly accompanied by one or more snacks. In this way digestive problems disappear or at least are considerably reduced.

The maximum quantity of food that can be ingestible in a single meal must therefore also be calibrated based on the commitments following the intake of food. For example, if you feel a strong “hole in your stomach” an hour before starting a very intense physical or mental activity, it is a good idea to consume a quick, easily digestible and not too high-calorie snack.

For a normal weight person of 75 kg, a meal should approximately not exceed 600-800 kcal. However, a particularly active person such as an athlete may not be able to respect this constraint even by evenly dividing calories into the three main meals. In this case, the consumption of snacks is the only solution to best redistribute caloric intake throughout the day.

It is interesting to note how calories and not grams are used to quantify the maximum dose of food that can be consumed at each meal. It is no coincidence that generally it is the most caloric foods that cause the greatest digestive problems.

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