Rolling Out

Dr. Kre lists the dos and don’ts of improving your digestive health

The digestive system is vital to having a healthy lifestyle

Dr. Ankrehah Trimble Johnson, known as Dr. Kre, is a board-certified family medicine physician who is dedicated to answering questions about common medical conditions and bringing awareness to healthy lifestyles. With World Digestive Health Day approaching on May 29, Dr. Kre is helping her patients and others know the importance of digestive health and how to improve your gut.

Dr. Kre spoke with rolling out about digestive health, foods to avoid, foods to eat, and the importance of exercise.

What are some of the things that we should avoid for a healthier digestive system?

One thing that we should be avoiding is pork. Pork is something that is kind of hard to process; it’s full of fat, and it impacts heart health, our cholesterol health, and our digestive system. I know in the South, we are all about our pork, we are all about our bacon, and that is something that we need to be mindful that it can be hard to digest. [Beef] can be hard to digest as well. I like to tell my patients to pay attention to how your body reacts to what you’re eating. If you have to run to the bathroom every time you eat beef and pork or have a headache, you may need to avoid that. Something we need to add to our routine is probiotics. We want to have a good, healthy gut. Taking those probiotics every day helps to keep our gut happy, which can help keep us happy.

Why is gut health a factor in all our other body parts?

If we do not eat and [say], “I just forgot to eat,” that can affect [our] blood sugar. The alternative is if we eat too much all the time, we can have a gut problem. One example is a gallbladder problem. When you eat a lot of fat, and you have a hard time getting it through, you can have gallbladder problems.

What are some symptoms to look for when having digestive problems?

Let’s talk about what constipation is. Some people want to have stool every time they eat, and that would be amazing, but it’s not necessarily a sign or symptom. If you don’t have a good bowel movement [two or three] times a day, it makes me start to say that you’re getting into complications. [We] should have been concerned about [whether our] stool is too hard. Are your stools changing? Are you having diarrhea [or are you] getting too much lactose in your diet? As we get older, you can have a problem processing lactose. That’s milk, cheese, all the amazing things that go in our body, [which] can go right through or back you up. Those are some things that we should be looking for. Make sure you don’t have any blood in your stool. Those are red flags for us. Another thing with digestive health is that you might have acid reflux. Pasta, tomato paste, and pizza [all] can trigger your acid reflux.

How big can exercise be in having a healthy digestive system?

Exercise is key. If you’re being active, [you] need to drink more water. That helps move things through your system. The more active we are, the more active our bowels can be as well. So many people are on laxatives, and so many people are on stool softeners because they are not eating a balanced diet and not drinking enough water.

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