The arrival of the beautiful season brings with it an increase in disorders related to poor digestion, such as gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis and peptic ulcers. Why does this happen and how do we regulate it? Two Humanitas specialists discussed this in an interview: Professor Alessandro Repici, Head of Endoscopy and Dr. Gianluca Lollo, a gastroenterologist.
In spring, stomach burn (gastric heartburn) is more pronounced because the acids produced by the walls of the stomach increase, in particular hydrochloric acid. This is linked to a primitive condition, because during the winter the possibility of finding food was very difficult and therefore the body reduced the secretion of gastric acids that would damage the walls of the stomach, not being engaged in digestion.
In spring, the increased availability of light activates the formation of the hormone cortisol. However, its increased production limits intestinal peristalsis, i.e. the involuntary movements of the stomach and intestinal mucosa, which promote digestion. The cortisol then predisposes to anxiety and mood swings, which sometimes lead to lack of appetite and dyspepsia.
For many, digestive problems and stomach burns are also the consequence of bad winter habits, such as greater sedentary lifestyle, a poorer diet more rich in fat, too much coffee intake, and smoking. These are all factors that can irritate the mucous membrane of the stomach, making it more sensitive to gastric acids.
Starting from the energy supply
To counteract burning and stomach heaviness it is good to pay attention to how you eat. It is advisable to reduce the consumption of animal fats such as butter, eggs, dairy products and fatty meat first. Then, avoid sausages, elaborate dishes, spicy foods, fried foods, cream-based desserts and ready-made dishes that are rich in salt and preservatives. Moreover, pay attention to chocolate, licorice, mint, coffee, spirits, tomatoes and in some cases citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges.
Prefer cereals, such as rice and whole-wheat pasta (whose fibers help digestion), seasoned with oil and vegetables (beware of tomatoes, which are acidic). Prefer white meat and fish, baked or steamed with flavors and vegetables. The fruit should be eaten raw, but if it causes acidity problems it can be cooked.
It is also good to dedicate oneself to physical activity: about half an hour a day of fast walking, marching, cycling or running helps to digest because it has a positive effect on intestinal peristalsis, relieves tension and increases caloric expenditure.
If you have digestive problems, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. If the problem lasts longer than a few days, he can advise you on an antacid drugs based on sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, or calcium or magnesium carbonate.
If the symptoms last for a week, it is preferable to consult a gastroenterologist.