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Sunil K Sreedharan
More than a doctor he treats you as a friend, his down to earth attitude immediately puts you at ease. A thoroughly professional doctor.
The quote 'Good day starts with coffee' suits a lot of people who love nothing more than a cup of coffee every morning. However, your morning tryst with a cup of coffee might not be a very healthy habit. Believe it or not, addiction to caffeine (in the form of coffee) is as harmful as addiction to any other drug. In fact, caffeine is a legal drug that slowly and gradually damages your gastrointestinal tract. Here are the negative effects of coffee on your digestive system:
- Increases Acidity: Coffee is known to contain different kinds of oils, acids and caffeine. These compounds have adverse impact on the digestive system. The stomach and intestinal linings get damaged due to the over-consumption of these compounds in the form of coffee. Moreover, as you take coffee, your stomach produces more hydrochloric acid for digestion. This causes acidity and hampers the HCL levels all together. When we take coffee regularly for years in empty stomach, our body's capacity of producing proper amounts of HCL gets hampered. Often, HCL production gets reduced as well. This leads to indigestion of other food items and effects flatulence and produces unwanted gases due to improper breaking of proteins and fats by the body.
- Ulcers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Doctors believe that coffee acts as an irritant for patients of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), gastritis, Crohn's disease, colitis and ulcers. Coffee is responsible for the irritation of the lining of stomach and intestine. It is also noticed that certain enzymes present in the coffee beans are also harmful for the gastrointestinal tract.
- Heartburn: Coffee is responsible for relaxing the esophageal sphincter muscle. The relaxation of this muscle hinders the process of digestion and causes acid-reflux, resulting in heartburn. It is known to have compounds that have diuretic, laxative and mineral blocking effects on the body.
- Laxative Effects: Coffee stimulates the process of peristalsis or movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract. The peristalsis starts immediately after food is swallowed by the individual. The intake of coffee catalyzes peristalsis and consequently leads to emptying of the stomach even before the food is digested properly. The semi-digested food is sent to the intestine too early, causing injury to the intestine and hampering the absorption of nutrients.
- Affects absorption of minerals: Caffeine reduces the ability of the stomach to absorb iron and also hinders the absorption of minerals like calcium, zinc and magnesium by the kidney. All these minerals help in digestion at different points and regulate the bowel movement.
Coffee is known to have benefits like reduction of constipation and sugar absorption. But, it also interferes with the smooth functioning of the digestive system. It has a tendency to increase stomach aches, disturb the fluid balance and the overall process of digestion.
We are seeing a veritable explosion of constipation in the world. Most people will experience some constipation in their lives but it’s when the problem gets chronic or is accompanied by pain and /or blood in stools, that it should ring alarm bells for sure. Being constipated means that your bowel movements don’t happen normally. But, what’s normal? We know that the normal length of time between bowel movements varies widely from person to person. Some people go to the loo three times a day and that’s normal for them. In general, not clearing your bowels for more than three days is usually considered too long. The stool also becomes hard and difficult to pass after three days.
- Fewer bowel movements
- Trouble passing stools
- Hard stools
- Feeling full even after passing stools
- Flatulence and belly pain
Having too many antacid medicines, especially those containing calcium or aluminium
- Changes in lifestyle including diet and usual activities
- Colon cancer
- Dairy products
- Eating disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Neurological problems like Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
- Having less water or fibre in diet
- Laxative overuse
- Nerve and muscle problems in the digestive system like due to fibromyalgia
- Medications like NSAIDS, drugs, antidepressants, or iron pills
- Drink more water consciously- Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day.
- Drink warm liquids, especially after getting up in the morning.
- Add more fibre to your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables.
- You can use a mild over-the-counter stool softener like docusate or a laxative like magnesium hydroxide, but for not more than two weeks.
- Call your doctor if you have a sudden attack of constipation with abdominal pain and you aren’t able to pass any gas or stool.
Other ways to get rid of constipation are
- Eat a well- balanced diet with enough fibre. Eat bran and multi-grain bread instead of white bread. Cut out processed foods from your diet. Eat regularly.
- Drink 1 1/2 to litres of water and other fluids a day.
- Avoid caffeine found in tea, coffee and soft drinks. This can exasperate constipation
- Cut back on dairy, especially milk.
- Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes of walking or some activity can manage constipation.
- Don’t hold back from going to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
- Eat more vitamin B 12. Sometimes lack of this vitamin can cause constipation. A deficiency can also make you tired, weak and nervous.
- Stress is a big cause for constipation. Be sure to nix it as it causes changes in the body that cause problems in your body like constipation.
- The gastrointestinal system is especially sensitive to stress so anything meditative like Tai chi, yoga or listening to music can be a big relief.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Symptoms of anorectal diseases -
- Bleeding from rectum
- Mass coming down from rectum
- Feeling of incomplete evacuation
- Pain and itching around anal region
- Black coloured stool
- Altered bowel habit
- Spurious diarroeah
Common diseases of anorectal regions -
- Haemarroids (piles)
- Perianal abscess
- Pruritus ani
- Anal canal cancer
- Prolapse rectum
- Crohn's disease
- Rectal cancer
Those of you who are suffering from any of the above mentioned symptoms or diseases kindly get a consultation and advice from gastroenteologist.