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5 Causes of Intestinal Distress

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Intestinal issues have risen in the past 50 years, and an increasing number of people are experiencing symptoms related to gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation. [1] An intestinal issue can place the entire body at risk, especially considering that most intestinal disorders interfere with the proper absorption and utilization of nutrients. Malabsorption is one of the many causes of malnutrition in the developed world, and a great deal of people are at a loss for what they can do to improve the health of their gastrointestinal system.


While severe intestinal distress may require immediate medical supervision, some people may benefit from a safe and effective cleansing regimen to help remove toxic residue and offending agents (gluten, high-fiber foods, allergenic foods, etc.). If you are suffering from some sort of digestive stress but can’t pinpoint exactly what may be causing it, check out these following contributors to see which ones describe your situation the best.

Standard American Diet

The Standard American Diet (appropriately referred to as “SAD”) is one of the main contributing factors to the development of digestive disorders. Often, a SAD-type way of eating will include an abundance of processed, frozen, dead, sugary, and high-carbohydrate foods. It contains very little fiber [2] (helpful for fighting constipation), is plentiful in trans fats, and provides a low amount of antioxidants.

Water Intake

Dehydration can be a common concern when it comes to SAD, as sodas, energy drinks, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are often the main beverage of choice among today’s consumers. Dehydration is heavily involved with causing a decline in bowel health and subsequent digestive dysfunction. A lack of hydration in the intestines contributes to a condition that stagnates peristalsis (muscular contractions that propel food through the intestinal tract), inhibits digestive enzymes, and results in hardened fecal matter. [3]


A lack of exercise is an issue that nags many people in the Western world, yet this lifestyle factor is also compounding a plethora of digestive issues. Physical activity aids in the movement of food along the digestive tract, and regular movement stimulates the internal organs essential for maintaining bowel regularity. [4] Yoga postures involving plenty of twisting, bending, and squatting can be beneficial for people suffering from constipation, and walking or running can definitely be helpful for keeping everything moving smoothly. [5]

Gluten Intolerance

While Celiac disease accounts for only a minority of the population, gluten intolerance and sensitivity are experienced by a wider range of people all across the world. [6] Symptoms can be minor and manifest themselves in ways that seem unrelated to the gastrointestinal system. Nevertheless, gluten can be a hard-to-digest protein for many people, causing intestinal distress, constipation, and nausea. Malabsorption issues can also be a problem related to gluten intolerance and can prevent the body from absorbing and utilizing certain nutrients responsible for a variety of physiological effects.


The buildup of toxins in the body can also increase intestinal distress, constipation, and absorption issues. Toxins can accumulate in the body from the diet and/or the environment, and sometimes there is very little we can do to control our exposure to toxic compounds. Symptoms of toxicity include irregularity, gas, nausea, vomiting, low energy, and concentration issues. Most symptoms vary from person to person, but digestive issues tend to be somewhat uniform among many people experiencing an excessive buildup of toxins. [7] A full-body cleanse may be effective at reducing the amount of toxins in the body, thus decreasing painful or uncomfortable intestinal issues.

Can Cleansing Help?

Although cleansing may seem like alternative health fluff, there is actually quite a bit of scientific merit to the practice. Colon cleansing, for example, may help reduce intestinal inflammation that occurs in intestinal disorders, reducing the irritation that occurs along the membranes of the GI tract. [8] Cleansing may also aid the health of the liver, the body’s main detoxifying organ. Be sure to approach cleansing with the appropriate medical advice given back a trusted physician or healthcare practitioner.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


  1. Alberto Rubio-Tapia, MD, Ivor D. Hill, MD, Ciarán P. Kelly, MD, Audrey H. Calderwood, MD and Joseph A. Murray, MD. Diagnosis and Management of Celiac Disease. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2013; 108:656–676; doi:10.1038/ajg.2013.79; published online 23 April 2013.
  2. Herman Adlercreutz. Western diet and Western diseases: Some hormonal and biochemical mechanisms and associations. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation. 1990, Vol. 50, No. s201 , Pages 3-23.
  3. Tayyem RF, Shehadeh IN, Abumweis SS, Bawadi HA, Hammad SS, Bani-Hani KE, Al-Jaberi TM,Alnusair MM. Physical inactivity, water intake and constipation as risk factors for colorectal cancer among adults in Jordan. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2013;14(9):5207-12.
  4. De Schryver AM, Keulemans YC, Peters HP, Akkermans LM, Smout AJ, De Vries WR, van Berge-Henegouwen GP. Effects of regular physical activity on defecation pattern in middle-aged patients complaining of chronic constipation. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2005 Apr;40(4):422-9.
  5. Dukas L, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Association between physical activity, fiber intake, and other lifestyle variables and constipation in a study of women. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2003 Aug;98(8):1790-6.
  6. Volta U, Caio G, Tovoli F, De Giorgio R. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: questions still to be answered despite increasing awareness. Cellular Molecular Immunology. 2013 Sep;10(5):383-92. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2013.28.
  7. Richard L. Guerrant, Ted S. Steiner, Aldo A. M. Lima and David A. Bobak. How Intestinal Bacteria Cause Disease. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. (1999) 179(Supplement 2): S331-S337.doi: 10.1086/513845.
  8. Horne S. Colon cleansing: a popular, but misunderstood natural therapy. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 2006;6(2):93-100.

Posted In: Colon Health,Colon Health Blog,Constipation,Irritable Bowel Syndrome,Lifestyle Tips
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