b'When Things Go WrongAs complicated as digestion is, its no wonder most of us have experienced digestive upset at one time or another. While most digestive upsets are nothing more than a minor inconvenience, if symptoms become chronic it may signal that the body isnt getting all the nutrients it needs for optimal health. Here are the six most common conditions that can upend your gastrointestinal tract:CONSTIPATION having three or fewer bowel5 ENEMIES of a movements per week and hard, dry stoolsplagues as many as 20 percent of people. And it becomes moreHEALTHY GUTprevalent with age. Stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, food allergies, a bacterial imbalance inEven in a perfect world, your the gut (known as dysbiosis), and a lack of digestivedigestive tract is continually enzymes are common constipation triggers. Other,challenged. Here are the biggest less obvious causes include prescription drugsthreats to gastrointestinal bliss: (such as antidepressants, antacids, and some painnThe Standard American Diet, medications), hypothyroidism, and diabetes. which is low in fiber and nutrients DIARRHEAcan be caused by a variety of factors suchand packed with sugar, gluten, and as a gastrointestinal bug, antibiotics, food poisoning,chemical additives.or even stress. Normally, short-term diarrhea lastsnAlcohol overindulgence. A joint just a day or two and typically goes away on its own.study from Dartmouth Hitchcock However, diarrhea lasting more than a few days may beMedical Center and the Mayo Clinic a sign of a more serious problem. If diarrhea lasts forhas found that even moderate four weeks or more, see a health-care provider as thisalcohol consumption may lead to may signal a chronic disease.bacterial overgrowth in the small GASTROENTERITISis a catch-all phrase that doctorsintestine (SIBO) and can trigger often use to describe any irritation of the stomach andbloating, gas, abdominal pain, intestines. Marked by nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and aconstipation, and diarrhea.low-grade fever, true gastroenteritis is an inflammationnSome medications such as of the intestinal lining caused by a virus, bacteria, orantacids, antibiotics, birth control parasite. The most common culprit is the norovirus,pills, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory which spreads through contaminated food or water anddrugs, and tricyclic antidepressants. contact with an infected person.INDIGESTIONcan manifest as gas, bloating, heartburn,nExposure to harmful chemicals, stomach upset, or a feeling of fullness. The usualsuch as mercury and mold, that causes include eating too fast, eating when stressed, ordamage normal gut function.simply overindulging in too many pepperoni pizzas ornChronic stress, which can alter spicy tacos. But when occasional indigestion becomesthe guts nervous system. Over chronic, it could be a sign of something more sinister,time, stress can compromise your like gallstones or a peptic ulcer. intestinal integrity. THE G O OD GUT5'