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5 Digestive Causes of Abdominal Pain

Your digestive system serves a very important role in how well your body functions. You need the nutrients from the food you eat in order for your body to work properly, not to mention for optimal brain function! But, if you have abdominal pain every time you eat, you may have some problems. 

One of the important services the providers at Family Acupuncture and Wellness offer is nutritional counseling. We adhere to the practice of functional medicine, which takes your whole body and life into account during treatment rather than simply addressing the symptoms. Since food is so central to your health, addressing nutritional issues can lead to surprising improvements in your health. 


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is remarkably common and can certainly cause pain in your abdomen. When the acid from your stomach spills up into your esophagus, you experience the uncomfortable condition of acid reflux. It’s normal to have acid reflux once in a while, but if it happens often, it can cause problems. 

For example, you may have constant pain in your chest or upper abdomen, chronic bad breath, erosion of the enamel on your teeth, or heartburn more than twice a week. If so, you might have GERD. Figuring out what foods cause your symptoms is the best way to deal with GERD. 

Once you know what foods and beverages to avoid, the inflammation in your esophagus begins to go away, and healing can take place. 

2. Diverticulitis

At the other end of your digestive tract, you have a large intestine. Small, bulging pouches called diverticula often form in the large intestine, and can cause abdominal pain. When you have diverticula, it’s called diverticulosis, and when a diverticula becomes inflamed or infected, you have diverticulosis.

Along with abdominal pain, you may have a fever, nausea, and a marked change in your bowel habits. When the condition is severe, you may need surgery, but if you treat it early with changes in your diet, you can get control before it becomes severe. 

3. Irritable bowel syndrome

Experts estimate that somewhere between 3 and 20% of people have irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. It’s also sometimes called spastic colon or mucus colitis, and several other names. The condition is a group of intestinal symptoms that occur together and vary in intensity person-to-person. The most common symptoms include: 

Many people with IBS feel relief from their pain after a bowel movement, and it’s unusual to have episodes of constipation and diarrhea. It’s more common to have one or the other. More women than men have IBS, but also men are less likely to seek treatment. 

For many people, dietary changes can help relieve their symptoms. The specific dietary approach likely to work for you depends on several factors. Not everyone with IBS benefits from following the same diet. 

4. Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a condition that involves extreme sensitivity to gluten, which is found in many foods. Roughly 1% of the American population is estimated to have Celiac disease. If you have Celiac disease and you eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, it triggers your immune system. The result is pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and weightloss. 

5. Lactose intolerance

The inability to digest the sugar found in milk, lactose, is called lactose intolerance. It’s quite common, and though it’s not life threatening, it can make you very uncomfortable. Understanding what you can eat and what you should avoid may lead to relief. 

If you have questions about what you should be eating in order to best support your health and to avoid abdominal pain, schedule an appointment for a consultation. We consider your goals and lifestyle as we work with you to build a healthy, sustainable nutritional plan. 

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