Digestive Health on the Fourth of July

Digestive Health on the Fourth of July

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The Fourth of July holds the potential to offer all of the delights of summer. Relaxing with friends and family, enjoying classic summer fare in the great outdoors and feeling that beautiful sense of patriotic pride. And no matter how old you are, watching fireworks on a warm summer evening is always a delight.

Unfortunately, the typical Fourth of July fare can be tough on your digestive system. Luckily, there are some things that you can do ensure that your system stays quiet so that you can enjoy the pleasures of the day, as well as the evening display, without experiencing any fireworks of your won.

Enjoy the Abundance of Summer

Summer vegetables in a bowl
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Summer is filled with many wonderful treats, not the least of which is the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.Take advantage of this opportunity to add these nutritious powerhouses to your diet. Fruits and vegetables contain gut-healthy fiber, along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients. So while you are at your holiday picnic or barbecue fill your plate with as many fruits and vegetables as you can.

If you have IBS, you may want to choose fruits and vegetables that are low in FODMAPs to ensure that your system stays nice and quiet. Review the lists you will find in the following link to make sure that you choose wisely:

Think Lean Protein

chicken on the grill
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If possible, try to pass on those Fourth of July mainstays of hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and fried chicken. These fatty, greasy items may trigger and strengthen the body's natural gastrocolic reflex and result in strong intestinal cramping.

A much healthier choice for your picnic plate is leaner cuts of meat off the grill, including chicken, steak or pork. Your digestive system will thank you and you will feel much better after your meal.

Stay Hydrated

drinking water at a picnic
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It is easy to become dehydrated when enjoying summer activities, as your body perspires in an effort to maintain a healthy body temperature. Your colon will kick in to help by drawing water away from the stool. Unfortunately this can lead to an uncomfortable state of constipation.

You can head off this problem by drinking plenty of water!

While on the subject of hydration, you may also want to limit your intake of alcohol-containing drinks. In addition to contributing to dehydration, alcohol can be a gut irritant. You can enjoy a cocktail or too, if you so choose, but drink slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water alongside your adult drink.

Avoid Infection

man cooking on a grill
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Summer barbecues too often set the stage for an increased risk of food poisoning. Besides experiencing severe and possibly fatal intestinal symptoms, it has become increasingly clear that experiencing an acute bacterial infection puts a person at risk for developing a chronic case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In order to avoid foodborne infection, it is essential to:

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables in warm, soapy water.
  • Keep food well chilled prior to cooking and serving.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly.
  • As soon as possible, return all uneaten food to the cooler or refrigerator.

Scope Out Bathroom Access

outdoor restroom
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One downside of the great outdoors can be the limited access to restroom facilities. To keep your GI system nice and quiet, it is important to remain as relaxed as possible. Make sure that you know ahead of time where the closest bathrooms can be found. If you begin to experience a strong need to get to the restroom quickly, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that your body is well trained to hold things in until you are safely seated on the toilet.

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