You’ve heard dozens of digestive health myths throughout your life. They are commonly known, and often repeated, health “facts” that may or may not be true. How can you know what’s real and what isn’t? Here are 5 common digestive health myths that you shouldn’t believe.
Don’t Swim for at Least Half an Hour After Eating
It’s a common urban legend that someone’s friend’s uncle’s neighbor drowned when he went swimming immediately after eating. The theory is that all of the body’s blood will rush to the stomach to aid in digestion, causing muscles in the extremities to cramp up. Yes, eating leads to increased blood flow in the GI tract, but you still have plenty of blood in your body to supply all of your other muscles, so it’s not an issue.
Ulcers Are Caused by Spicy Food And/Or Stress
Actually, ulcers are usually caused by Heliobacter pylori bacteria. Approximately half of the world’s population is thought to have H. pylori, but it can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Ulcers can also result from the overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS. If you have ulcers, it’s true that you shouldn’t stress or eat spicy foods, as both can irritate ulcers.
It Takes 7 Years to Digest Gum
It’s true that the body can’t digest gum, but it will pass through your body undigested, just like anything else that can’t be digested. The only way that swallowed chewing gum can cause issues is when the gum adheres to other foreign objects. For example, if a child swallows gum along with several small objects, there’s a chance it could lead to an intestinal blockage.
A Gluten-Free/Grain-Free Diet Is Best for Health
This one can be dangerous because gluten IS harmful to people with Celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity. The truth is, grains aren’t inherently unhealthy. In fact, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, recommend grains as part of a healthy diet, with at least half of the grains coming from whole grains. Gluten-free grains are not healthier than grains that include gluten. In fact, going gluten-free could lead to weight gain, since foods that normally contain gluten might add in fat, sugars, salt, and calories in order to compensate for the lack of gluten.
If You Don’t Have a Bowel Movement at Least Once a Day, There’s a Problem
The truth is that “normal” can range anywhere from 3 bowel movements per day to 3 bowel movements per week. That being said, you should take notice of what’s normal for you. For example, you may be used to going twice a day, but now it’s every other day or vice versa. you should contact a gastroenterologist to discuss if this is a cause for concern.
If you have any questions about your digestive upset, don’t hesitate to contact Digestive Health Centers of Dallas today to schedule an appointment with a board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologist!