9 Stomach Myths And Facts
All of us have had our share of oftentimes inconvenient, sometimes embarrassing, and rarely serious tummy troubles. When you indulge in your favorite food you may get a burning and churning sensation in your stomach. After a really heavy meal, you feel so bloated that your pants are close to exploding. Or you experience gassiness after a late lunch and while you’re in an overcrowded elevator.
But these occurrences can become so common and familiar that we hardly bother ourselves with learning more about their causes. Most people know painfully little about the digestive system and how it functions that it becomes more difficult for them to solve their tummy troubles.
A lot of misconceptions about stomach health have misled people on how to deal with their stomach upsets. Some problems that may seem difficult or even frightening may turn out to be simple with simple solutions.
Stomach myths abound, from stories that your grandmother told you to articles you read in magazines. Read on and learn how to keep your stomach happy and healthy by properly digesting the following myths and facts.
Myth or Fact #1: All digestion occurs in the stomach
MYTH. Digestion occurs in both the stomach and the small intestines and foods are not digested in the order they are eaten. Everything you take in lands in the stomach. The stomach then churns everything together and breaks it into pieces called chime. When the chime is ready, it is released in batches into the small intestines, where majority of the digestion occurs.
Myth or Fact #2: Cutting down food intake shrinks the stomach.
MYTH. For adults, the only way to shrink the stomach is through surgery. You will reach a certain age when the size of the stomach stops changing. Eating less can only help reset your appetite thermostat so it becomes easier and faster to satisfy your hunger. This may be very helpful for you to curb your cravings and to stick to your diet plan.
Myth or Fact #3: Thin people have smaller stomachs.
MYTH. Weight does not determine a person’s stomach size. There are people who have had weight battles for most of their life whose stomachs are smaller than or are the same size as people who are naturally thin. Some who have undergone surgeries to reduce stomach size can override the small size and still gain weight.
Myth or Fact #4: Abdominal exercises reduce stomach size.
MYTH. Again, you cannot change the size of your stomach once you reach adulthood, unless you undergo surgery. Exercise helps burn the layers of fat that has accumulated on the outside of the body’s organs. The abdomen, for example, houses the stomach and other internal organs and is the area where fat can accumulate. Abdominal exercises like sit-ups and crunches help tighten the abdominal muscles.
Fat can also accumulate in parts of your body that won’t show externally. In fact, some of your “belly fat” may reside over and around your internal organs in an area known as the omentum. This is the fat that is actually harmful to your health.
Overweight people often have a lot of fat in between their organs. The liver, for example, can become so packed with fat that you can develop a form of hepatitis, or worse, the liver can stop functioning completely.
The solution is to have a healthy diet. You will not only shed the unsightly external fat, but you will also get rid of the internal fat you don’t see.
Myth or Fact #5: Foods with insoluble fiber cause less gas and bloating than those with soluble fiber.
FACT. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, has been perceived as the “gentler” form of fiber and is found in oats, beans, peas, and citrus fruits. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water. When you take in soluble fiber, it is digested by the intestines and interact with the intestinal flora. This is what causes gas and bloating.
Insoluble fiber, however, is not digested at all. It goes right through the intestines without interacting with the flora; therefore, no gas or bloating. But it can increase the frequency and size of bowel movement. Insoluble fiber is found in whole-wheat bread, wheat cereals, beets, and carrots.
Myth or Fact #6: Acid reflux can be reduced by losing a few lbs.
FACT. Heartburn can be relieved by losing as little as two pounds. When there is less weight in the stomach, the acid that flows back up into the esophagus is also lessened. The best example for this is pregnancy. Pressure on the internal organs increases as the baby grows and, as a result, heartburn also increases. After the baby is born, the pressure is relieved and so is the heartburn.
If you are starting a weight loss plan, it is very likely that you will start to lose weight in the belly first, so your heartburn will be decreased, too, immediately within a few weeks.
Myth or Fact #7: Eating before bedtime makes you gain more weight.
MYTH. So far, there is no scientific evidence that shows eating at a specific time of day influences weight gain on its own. The most common cause of weight gain is when we take in more calories than we burn. And it follows logically that we burn faster the foods we eat during daytime when we are more active than foods we eat right before going to sleep. However, weight gain is not based on a 24-hour clock. What determines weight gain is the total amount of food taken in over a period of time and how much of this you burn. You may gain more weight from plenty of nights indulging in late snacks if you don’t burn the same amount of calories during the same period.
However, eating late at night right before bedtime may cause more gas, bloating, and heartburn when we are fatigued and stressed. The stomach has a sort of “brain” that makes sure that food is moved through the digestive system at the right pace and in the right amount. At the end of a long day, most people are fatigued and stressed, and the “brain” in our gut gets fatigued and stressed too. This makes digestion more difficult because the number of contractions that move food through the system is decreased.
Myth or Fact #8: A meal with some fat will control your appetite more likely than a meal with no fat.
FACT. After eating a meal that contains a minimum amount of fat, we feel full longer. This is because fats remain in the stomach longer because they digest more slowly than carbohydrates.
In addition, eating simple carbohydrates like crackers or cookies makes blood sugar and insulin levels rise quickly, and subsequently drop quickly too. This causes dramatic shifts in both mood and appetite. A strictly simple-carbohydrate-diet is more likely to make you hungry more often.
Myth or Fact #9: Beans causes plenty of gas and it can’t be helped.
MYTH/FACT. Proper digestion of beans requires a certain enzyme because beans are high in a certain kind of sugar. The level of this enzyme in the body differs from one person to the next. If you have less of this enzyme than what you need to digest beans, then you will have more gas. However, there are some products, like Beano for example, which adds more of the enzyme needed to digest beans and other gassy vegetables properly. This can be taken before eating. You can also take products with simethicone after eating to reduce the formation of gas. Simethicone releases the surface tension on gas bubbles that form after eating foods that are hard to digest.