From fad diets to old wives tales and everything in between, it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not when it comes to digestive health. Here are our top 5 common digestive myths busted.
There is no exact number of bowel movements you should have, but take note of patterns, such as time of day, number of times per day, and more. Seek help when a pattern change lasts longer than a week.
Although chewing gum is designed to be chewed and not swallowed, it generally isn’t harmful to your stomach. On very rare occasions, large amounts of swallowed gum combined with constipation have blocked intestines in children, so it’s best to spit it out after the flavor’s gone.
A tale that emerged after it was included in the 1908 Boy Scout handbook, there is no truth to this common myth. You don’t need to wait 30 minutes or more to swim after you’ve eaten. Because digestion diverts some blood flow from your muscles to your stomach, the concern was that swimming might somehow inhibit this blood flow and cause severe cramping.
While it’s true that spicy foods may sometimes aggravate ulcer symptoms, they do not cause ulcers. Typically, ulcers are caused by chronic use of anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, stress, or smoking. Ulcers can happen anywhere along the digestive tract and are curable. But left untreated, they can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications. If you think you may have an ulcer, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
A rumbling stomach sometimes signifies hunger, but not always. Your digestive system can make sounds, known as borborygmi, when air or fluid moves through the intestines. Because stomach rumbling can also occur when muscles contract to move contents forward in the GI tract, these sounds may happen when the stomach is full or empty.