Health News

Make Digestive Health Your Habit

Man serving woman food outside
Written by Lisa Kaylor

Your digestive system works hard to keep you healthy—be proactive about protecting it!

“The digestive system plays a crucial role in our overall health and growth. It breaks down food into nutrients, which are absorbed. The body uses this energy for growth and repair. In addition, it plays a significant role in preventing infections given it hosts a large part of the immune system. A well-functioning digestive system is essential for maintaining energy levels, immune function and well-being,” explained Wellstar MCG Health Medical Center Gastroenterologist Dr. Evangelos Tsipotis.

That’s why it’s so important to do your part to protect your gut health.

Wellstar MCG Health providers help your digestive system stay on track, so you can feel your best and keep doing the things you enjoy most.

Care from top to bottom

Your digestive system is made of an entire team of organs: the esophagus, stomach, intestines (small and large), pancreas, liver, gallbladder, rectum and anus.

“The digestive system comprises various organs that work together seamlessly,” said Dr. Tsipotis. “Regular check-ups are vital for maintaining digestive health and can help identify potential GI problems early—before they develop into more severe problems.”

At a routine exam, your primary care provider can screen for serious diseases like colorectal cancer and help identify chronic and common digestive conditions.

“Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in both men and women. Early detection of colon polyps and colorectal cancer can prevent or improve treatment outcomes respectively. If a GI disease is discovered during a routine check-up, the next steps may involve further diagnostic testing, the development of a treatment plan and follow-up appointments to assess the effectiveness of the treatment,” Dr. Tsipotis shared.

Stay on track with Wellstar MCG Health Medical Center gastroenterologists

Wellstar MCG Health gastroenterologists offer a full range of services to diagnose, treat and manage both common and complex disorders, including constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

At Wellstar MCG Health, we understand digestive issues can disrupt your everyday life—and talking about them can be tough. But it’s important to have the conversation with your provider.

“Being open and honest about digestive issues, despite potential discomfort or embarrassment, is crucial to have an accurate and early diagnosis,” explained Dr. Tsipotis. “That allows us to develop a tailored treatment plan or prevent complications and, therefore, improve overall health.”

See how our gastroenterologists care for you.

Catch colorectal cancer early

Inside the digestive system, most colorectal cancer starts as a growth, or polyp, in the colon or rectum. Because polyps develop slowly over time, you may experience few warning signs and not know you have a medical issue for months or even years.

That’s why it’s so important to get a colonoscopy—it could save your life. People with average risk should have a colonoscopy starting at age 45. Those at high risk or with a family history of colon cancer may start screenings even sooner. Talk to your provider about your screening plan.

When caught early before it spreads, colorectal cancer has a 91% five-year relative survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society. The relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to the general population.

Learn more about colorectal cancer screening.

Tips for good gut health

Be proactive about protecting your digestive system and follow these easy steps to stay well between regular visits with your Wellstar primary care provider or gastroenterologist.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps break down food, making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. Water also keeps things moving in your system and helps prevent constipation.
  • Take it slow. Don’t gulp or swallow food too quickly. When chewing, your mouth produces enzymes that are key for the digestive process. Chewing slowly may also help you feel full faster and more satisfied after a meal.
  • Focus on fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet keeps your bowel movements regular and can help to decrease the chance of constipation. Boost your fiber intake by eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.
  • Be in tune with your emotions. Have you ever been so anxious that you felt sick to your stomach? That’s because your brain and gut are closely connected. Lowering your stress level may help with your mental and digestive health too.
  • Eat food with probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help your gut stay healthy. Common foods with probiotics include yogurt, sourdough bread, sauerkraut and pickles.
  • Get moving. Exercise helps food move through your digestcdive system. Low-intensity activity after a meal, such as walking, can also aid in digestion.
  • Cut smoking and alcohol. Smoking cigarettes and excessive drinking can cause heartburn, acid reflux and even stomach ulcers. Drop these unhealthy habits to reduce your risk of these digestive issues.

By following these tips, you can take control of your digestive health. Looking for more ways to stay well? Learn about preventative screenings to protect your well-being.