Friday, January 9, 2015

Healthy Habits: Digestive Health in the New Year

We start the New Year with the best of intentions - we make resolutions to change bad habits or tell ourselves it’s time to start new ones. But all too often it seems that within a month these resolutions are sidelined or forgotten. With the holidays behind us, now is the time to take care of ourselves and refocus on our health.
TV personality and gastroenterologist Dr. Roshini Raj explains why digestive health should be a priority for everyone. Poor digestive health can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain or frequent bowel movements, but is often left on the backburner of health priorities.
To help stay on the right track, Dr. Raj can share the following tips and steps people can take to maintain their digestive health:
       Take the necessary steps before going on a diet: Schedule a visit with your doctor before making major changes to diet or activity. Eliminating foods on your own may make it more difficult for your doctor to diagnose you correctly.
       Set long-term health goals and take small steps: Many people quit too soon because their goals are too big or they don’t see immediate results. A combination of small steps and long-term goals will help keep you motivated and stay focused on the big picture.
       Prioritize your digestive health: If you are experiencing ongoing or intermittent digestive problems, don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor, because they could be a sign of an underlying condition such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI. EPI is the inability to properly digest carbohydrates, proteins, and fats due to a lack of enzymes produced by the pancreas. Symptoms associated with EPI can include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, frequent bowel movements and unexplained weight loss.
       Maintain a journal:  Keep track of dates and times of symptoms, foods you eat, exercise and stress levels and report those to your physician.
       Consider the mind-gut connection: Stress and anxiety can precipitate or worsen many digestive conditions, so take stock of your stress level and see if stress-reduction techniques can help alleviate your GI distress.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Raj, as well as Julie Dubois, a 28-year-old dietitian and personal trainer diagnosed with EPI due to chronic pancreatitis.

To learn more, visit
About Dr. Roshini Raj 
Dr. Raj is a TODAY show contributor, the Good Day NY (Fox 5) medical correspondent, and the medical editor of Health magazine. She has offered commentary on a variety of health and medical topics on a range of network and cable shows, including ABC’s The View, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, CNN’s American Morning, Nancy GraceLarry King Live, the Discovery Health Channel, The Tyra Banks Show, The Dr. Oz Showand The Doctors, among others. Dr. Raj has also been a contributor in several publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Fitnesson the state of healthcare and health news of the day.
About Julie DuBois 
Julie DuBois, RD, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian and a certified personal trainer. She is currently in school to become a Physician Assistant at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Julie provides online health coaching for various corporations and runs the nutrition challenge for Camp Gladiator. Julie is also an elite trainer on Dr. Oz's Sharecare Network. In July 2011, Julie was diagnosed with EPI due to chronic pancreatitis. She now works with other patient groups to help educate people about the condition.

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