Digestive disorders: Your eating habits could be the cause

Have you ever experienced vomiting, diarrhoea and frequent constipations? Well, according to physicians, these are some of the signs associated with digestive disorders.

Dieudonne’ Bukaba, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says digestive disorders are associated with the tract of the food in the body (the gut).They normally affect the tract of the food from the mouth to the anus.

He says many of these disorders are mainly caused by microorganisms and poor feeding habits. Most of them are also caused by protozoa, bacteria and fungi, and can come along with gastric digestive disorders, for example escherichia coli.

“Escherichia coli, which is caused by food contamination, is the most common bacteria that affects the gastric digestive tract,” he says.

Bukaba says another factor that leads to digestive disorder is food toxicity resulting from poor feeding habits.

“For instance, eating while sleeping, or eating and drinking at the same time, are among the unhealthy habits that can bring about digestion problems. When eating, food is in solid form, and when passing through the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach wall, there are some chemicals that are secreted. Those acids and enzymes become less effective when they have to work on liquids and solid food co-currently,” he explains.

The nutritionist adds that drinking while eating leads to confusion in the secretion of the chemicals that aid in digestion, thus bringing about problems in digestion.

However, he notes that another important habit which is more common is mixing cold and hot food while eating.

“This affects the gastrointestinal tract, thus leading to poor digestion. It also leads to confusion in the secretion of enzymes and other chemicals like hydrochloric acid in the stomach which results in indigestion,” says Bukaba.

According to Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetic Association, factors or habits that bring about gastrotino tract disorders can be grouped into two; poor eating habits and contamination of food.

Regarding poor eating habits, he says problems result from poor balancing of food, which can cause constipation.

“One should be able to include a variety of foods in every meal, ranging from proteins, vitamins to carbohydrates. This will keep one away from any problem associated with digestion,” he says.

Musengimana notes that not drinking water frequently is another poor eating habit which can result into many digestive problems.

“Eating while sleeping or seated in a wrong posture brings about certain disorders in the digestive tract. So, maintaining a good posture while eating is essential.”

When any of these vices are practised, he says one should expect consequences which most of the time manifest in diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation, among others.

Musengimana explains that if not corrected, there can be some risks which sometimes are life threatening, especially with severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

Francis Kazungu, a general practitioner in Kigali, says it’s better to avoid digestion disorders before they occur as some of disorders such as gastric atresia are not easy to treat and are very dangerous when they occur.

He says some of them actually affect the digestive tract, whereby the microorganisms in the body multiply and spread to different vital parts of the body like the liver, kidney and even in the blood stream.

“Poor eating habits can also lead to ulceration of the stomach, which is even harder to treat. The best way to prevent this is to practice good eating habits,” says Kazungu.

Another factor that may bring about digestive disorders, Kazungu says, is when people take in very hot food and don’t chew it properly as it affects the absorption of the food in the stomach.

The danger of food toxicity, according to Musengimana, is that the body loses some nutrients that are required in digestion such as micronutrients and vitamins. Additionally, food toxicity can also lead to cancer of the stomach and colon.

He adds that correcting bad eating habits is the best way to prevent digestive disorders.

“Taking in drinks such as water or juice 30 minutes before a meal is essential. One should also drink water one hour after the meal. Increasing water intake, as well as fruits and vegetables is important in preventing digestive disorders,” says Musengimana.