A key part of the human digestive system is the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is a large swath of many, many millions of nerve cells coating your esophagus all the way to your rectum. This is nicknamed the body’s “second brain” that works with, yet independently from, the central nervous system (CNS) – which comprises the brain and spinal cord.
The process of digestion starts in the mouth, as saliva and the action of chewing begins to break down food. The enteric nervous system then knows what to do in getting all of the various organs and tissues working properly as the food moves through the system, processing nutrients to prepare them to fortify the body.
There are a few things that are known to affect the digestive system in various ways in some people, but these factoids have been a bit blown out of proportion to the point of being inaccurate. These myths can lead well-meaning people to engage in unnecessary practices which would actually harm their digestive health.
Let’s talk about a few of the most common myths about digestive health, and where you can go in Austin for outstanding gastroenterological healthcare.
Myth #1: The More Fiber, the Better
Fiber greatly helps the digestive system foster regular bowel movements, so it is highly beneficial to your overall health. Daily fiber intake should ideally be about 25 grams. To give you an idea of what that could look like, consider these numbers:
- 2 pieces of whole-wheat bread = 4 grams
- 1 banana = 3 grams
- 1 cup of popcorn = 3.5 grams
- 1/2 cup of almonds = 8 grams
- 2 cups of pasta = 6 grams
- 1 apple = 4 grams
However, going overboard on your fiber intake could lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as gas, constipation, and bloating. Fiber is ideally consumed from real food – do not overdo it on fiber supplements.
Myth #2: Stress Causes Peptic Ulcers
While it’s always a good idea to reduce stress levels, there is a myth that stress causes peptic ulcers – which are ulcers that can develop in the stomach lining. Peptic ulcers are actually usually caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which can infect the stomach and damage its tissues.
- pylori can enter the body by consuming undercooked food and unclean drinking water. Peptic ulcers can also develop from the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Although stress itself does not cause peptic ulcers, it can worsen their symptoms. The stomach indeed increases acid production as a response to stress.
Myth #3: Milk Cures Stomach Ulcers
Many people believe that milk can cure a stomach ulcer. However, especially in the case of peptic ulcers, only antibiotics can kill the bacteria. Milk does have soothing and relieving effects, but not curative effects.
Myth #4: Colon Cleanses Are Detoxifying
Bacteria in the colon are there for a reason, so their removal can cause an unhealthy imbalance and can be harmful to your digestive health. A colon cleanse is important when preparing to have a colonoscopy, but it is not meant to be a detoxifying technique.
Skilled Gastroenterologist in Austin, TX
Our experienced medical team here at Austin Gastroenterology can help you stay on top of your digestive health for a lifetime of overall good health. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our outstanding physicians, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at our clinic nearest you or by filling out our appointment request form. We look forward to being your partner in digestive health.