When everything flows smoothly, life is good. And we’re not just talking about waking up with a beautiful hair or a flawless presentation at work. Your digestive system counts, too. But when it is out of control, it could affect your weight. Keep reading to know some of the digestive problems that may be making you get fat and you had no clue.
Gastrointestinal and digestive problems can have a great effect on the way we eat and on how our bodies absorb and digest food, which makes us gain or lose weight. Most digestive problems tend to cause weight loss due to a poor absorption of food, but there are some situations in which our intestinal health can contribute to gain weight.
Digestive problems that may be making you get fat
If you are gaining weight and you are not really sure why is that, one of these six digestive common problems could be responsible for it.
1. Acid Reflux Disease
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this causes a painful burning sensation, or heartburn, in the lower chest when the stomach acid rises back into the esophagus. And for people who suffer from it, the term “comfortable food” takes on a new meaning because the act of eating can actually help reduce pain.
Eating provides a temporary relief, since both the food you are eating, and the saliva when chewing, actually neutralize the acid. The only problem? Once the food has been digested, all the symptoms – swelling, nausea and hiccups that do not disappear – tend to return, and are usually more aggressive due to the production of rebound acid. But as people want some relief, it is easy to be absorbed by a dangerous cycle of overeating, which leads to gain weight.
These uncomfortable ulcers, also known as duodenal ulcers, usually appear in the lining of the stomach or the small intestine, and are usually due to the excessive acid production. And like GERD, eating food can improve the painful symptoms – including swelling and constant nausea – because it temporarily covers the ulcer with a protective coating and neutralizes the acid in the stomach. And, to re-state the obvious, if you are eating more often, excessive calories, that can lead you to gain weight. It is advised not to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, as they may cause internal bleeding and endanger the lives of people with ulcers.
When you are standing, that heavy feeling you have may be a gain in weight. But there is good news: your body is not actually absorbing more calories, so what happens to you is not so much a true weight gain but an extra stool retention, which is what could be making you fat, not to mention that constipation, could even be causing you the lack of motivation to go to the gym. Rather, this condition is more likely to make you feel sluggish and cumbersome. Stick to a balanced daily diet of whole foods that have at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber; stay well hydrated (try to drink one to two liters of water a day); and regularly do some exercise.
4. Excessive growth of bacteria
This one is not as abrupt as it sounds. Basically, your gut contains good and bad bacteria, and research shows that good bacteria play a crucial role in overall health by reducing inflammation and keeping weight under control. The problem occurs when the amount of bacteria increases, or also when it goes down. When that happens, what is known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can occur, and may be making you fat in two ways.
First, bacteria could produce methane gas, which slows down the overall function of the small intestine, allowing intestinal villi – small finger-like projections in the lining of the intestine – to absorb more calories per bite. In other words, the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
Secondly, SIBO can slow down metabolism and affect your insulin and resistance to leptin, which helps to regulate hunger and satiety. As a result, you are likely to crave carbohydrates and probably will not feel full after eating, even if it is a totally satisfying meal.
To avoid SIBO, it is suggested, among other things, to avoid antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary (as the name implies, these drugs kill bacteria, of all kinds, but commonly destroy good ones). If bacteria overgrowth is already occurring, your doctor may suggest a herbal digestive supplement such as Atrantil to help you get back on track.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The term IBS is very popular these days, as it is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal condition, and often overlaps with other digestive problems such as food sensitivity, a leaky gut, and an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. And constipation (a symptom of IBS), can cause swelling and chronic inflammation, which, once again, could be making you get fat, if you suffer it.
For people who are diagnosed with IBS, it is about getting to the root of the problem. Your doctor can work with you to build the good bacteria you need with probiotics, and add digestive enzymes to help break down food so it does not sit there in the intestine causing inflammation. It may be helpful to try a gluten-free diet or low-fat food because it can help reduce swelling and avoid having any unnecessary weight gain under control.
6. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
While poor appetite and excessive weight loss are common symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (both incurable chronic inflammatory conditions), exactly the opposite can happen as soon as someone puts on a treatment involving steroids, which is usually the first step in trying to find a drug that works for it.
Steroids tend to increase carbohydrate cravings and make you feel the need for more water and therefore bring swelling. An oral steroid such as Prednisone may also cause body fat to redistribute, so instead of being in the stomach or buttocks, it could be making your face or neck get fat.
Fortunately, it is usually not too difficult to lose weight once you are off the steroids. That usually happens as soon as an boil – or the reappearance of symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding and fever – disappear and symptoms are better under control.