Tag Archives: stomach issues

Fiber – Are You Getting Too Much of a Good Thing?

We all know fiber is an essential player in the good health game, but too much of a good thing can be a trouble. As with anything, moderation is key (as it turns out, the body just loves moderation!).

Signs You May Be Overdoing Fiber

The recommended daily intake of fiber is approximately 25-35 grams daily (mostly insoluble) but many of us are only taking in around half that amount daily. So the problem lies when people start increasing their fiber intake on doctor’s orders but go a little fiber-mad and introduce too much too quickly. The body acclimatizes to changes best when they are slow and steady, not when you go from 0 to 60 before the light even turns green. To much fiber can result in the following discomforts:

  1. Diarrhea – While soluble fiber can help ease diarrhea by absorbing some of the excess fluid in the intestinal tract, insoluble fiber helps fast-tract bowel movements, making diarrhea worse. So stick with foods like bananas, applesauce, white rice or oatmeal when you have diarrhea and avoid foods like broccoli, corn, tomatoes and whole wheat which are high in insoluble fiber.
  2. Constipation – people who struggle with constipation should try to get a fair balance of both types of fiber (but too much soluble fiber can make constipation worse because it slows digestion down). Try slowly upping your intake of leafy greens and other high-fiber veggies to see if it helps move things along.
  3. Temporary Weight Gain – If you are getting too much soluble fiber, it can lead to bloating and subsequent weight gain in some people. In some cases, the body is dehydrated because the person isn’t consuming a proportionate amount of water along with all the fiber. It is also important to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake.
  4. Gas and Bloatingtaking in more fiber than called for can lead to a noisy tribute. Try to taper your fiber intake a little if you are exceeding 35 grams daily.
  5. Mineral malabsorption – sometimes when you are ingesting a surplus of fiber, it can cause important minerals and nutrients to pass through the body too quickly, prohibiting your body from absorbing them. If you are eating a lot of fiber, you may want to talk to your doctor about vitamin supplementation if necessary, or decrease your dose to the recommended amount.

Do You Need a Brief Hiatus from Fiber?

Those who have certain stomach disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sometimes medically advised to cut down their insoluble fiber to give their overactive digestive tracts a break (talk to a doctor before doing so). Aside from those with conditions, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it may be time to re-examine your fiber intake to see if that could be the problem. Start increasing it slowly, by a couple grams a day instead of large, quick increments.

The Bottom Line

The benefits of fiber well outweigh some of the mild potential issues it may cause when ingested in excess, so be sure to aim for the recommended 25-35 grams of mixed fiber daily (primarily insoluble fiber). Remember to increase your intake gradually if you currently aren’t meeting the ideal mark. However, if you have intestinal issues or are experiencing some of the fiber-related problems we discussed, you may be consuming too much and should talk to your doctor (or one of our highly qualified physicians) for further advice on your individual case. Thanks for visiting DocChat!


10 Serious Potential Causes of Mid-Stomach Pain

There are various underlying conditions that present as pain or discomfort in the stomach around the naval area. Last time we took a look at some of the more minor causes. Some of the more major underlying health conditions may be:

  1. Ulcer – While some ulcers exist without many symptoms, the most common sign of peptic ulcers is an intermittent mid-abdominal pain (just above the belly button).
  2. Umbilical hernia – happen when part of the intestine obtrudes through the stomach wall and into the navel. They are usually not too serious but have the potential to strangulate or cause pain and vomiting. This type of hernia is most common in infants but can occur at any age.
  3. Appendicitis – can be a life threatening condition if left unattended. Appendicitis pain normally begins around the belly button, but soon migrates down to the lower right quadrant and intensifies. If you feel belly button pain that moves to your lower stomach and becomes unbearable, seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Pancreatitis – similarly to appendicitis, pancreatitis pain begins around the belly button (a little above). It will normally then radiate to the left and become quite severe. You should seek medical attention for severe stomach pain.
  5. Kidney or gall stones – both kidney and gall stones can cause pain attacks that can radiate around the middle stomach. If you have recurrent, intermittent bouts of severe pain you should seek medical attention to rule out kidney or gall stones.
  6. Gastritis (stomach infection) – stomach infections could be minor, or they could become quite problematic if left unattended and lead to long term stomach issues or sepsis.
  7. Bowel obstruction – a bowel obstruction can occur in different parts of the intestinal tract, but one spot could be the middle of the stomach which may provoke discomfort around the navel. Other symptoms would be fever, vomiting and the inability to pass gas or defecate.
  8. Chronic intestinal disorder – another common and potentially serious cause of middle-stomach discomfort would be chronic intestinal disorders such as diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. If you commonly get pain in your stomach and other acute illnesses have been ruled out, you and your doctor should look into intestinal disorders.
  9. Abdominal aneurysm – can cause a pulsating sensation around the navel as well as abdominal pain to the side of the abdomen as well as back pain.
  10. Bladder cancer – can cause pain around the belly button that may extend down to the groin, blood in the urine or problems urinating. If you experience any of these symptoms persistently, you should ask your doctor about screening for bladder problems to rule out bladder cancer.

Don’t panic, as often more simple conditions can explain symptoms like mid-stomach pain but if you are experiencing any of these types of severe navel or stomach pain, please seek medical treatment right away to rule out these serious conditions. Thanks for visiting DocChat! For any of your medical questions or concerns feel free to sign up today for a video chat with one of our highly esteemed, board certified physicians!


How To Tackle A Swelly Belly (Bloating Part 2)

In our last post “Abdominal Bloating Part 1 – Causes” we looked at some of the lifestyle and medical causes of bloating, now its time to examine what can be done about those troublesome belly swells. So how can you treat it through lifestyle changes, and when is it time to see the doc?

Make Better Food Choices

In our last post, we listed certain foods that can lead to gas and bloating which are often best to avoid or reduce if you are suffering the condition frequently. Here are some foods that have the opposite effect the body, actually helping to reduce swelling and gas. Some of these include:

  • Ginger – has long been used for its medicinal effects on the gastrointestinal tract, so load up on this spice!
  • Bananas – contain a surplus of potassium, which can help reduce bloating that is due to salt intake.
  • Cucumbercontains helpful bloat-fighting antioxidants and has a high H2O make-up.
  • Yogurt – while most milk products are on the no-no list for many of those with easily irritated stomachs, the probiotics in yogurt can be very beneficial in balancing the gut and aiding digestion.
  • Peppermint tea – peppermint has a calmative effect on the digestive tract (except for those prone to heartburn or GERD – it may make your condition worse).
  • Water – there’s a reason you keep getting hammered over the head with “drink many glasses a day!” of the old H2O, it can really help clear you out and help things run more smoothly.

Other Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Bloating

Some lifestyle changes that can really help cut down on bloating include:

  1. Eating smaller meals will help you not overeat, which is one of the most common causes of bloating and excess gas.
  2. Eat and drink slowly to avoid swallowing air with each bite, which also leads to gas.
  3. Avoid foods that commonly cause bloating.
  4. Take a short fiber hiatus – yes, fiber is good for you but it also increases intestinal gas to help things pass through the system, so ease back a little if you’re experiencing too much bloating, then ease back into eating fiber.
  5. Make a habit of a post-supper walk (after your food has some time to settle) to aid digestion.
  6. See an allergist to rule out any food allergies or sensitivities that may be causing your bloating.
  7. Stop smoking to avoid swallowing excess air on the regular.

When To See The Doc?

If you are experiencing any of the following, you should seek medical attention right away:

  • You are avoiding bloat-foods and taking steps to lesson stomach swelling but still routinely experience distention.
  • Bloating often comes along with persistent, and worsening heartburn.
  • Bloating is accompanied by excessive discomfort and pain.
  • Your bowel movements have changed (you are more constipated or diarrheic) or if you have changes in your stool such as blood present.
  • You feel feverish or your stomach is tender to the touch.

If you have any questions about intestinal bloating or are suffering some of the additional symptoms listed, feel free to sign up to DocChat today for a video consultation with one of our excellent board certified DocChat physicians.