Dealing with your father, brother, boyfriend or husband, you may have noticed something: men and women are different! However, only in the past decade or so has the medical world realised men and women’s biologies are different and therefore diagnosis, as well as treatment, has to be different, too.
It is true that genes are the same in men and women, but it’s the expression—which genes are activated and which are not—that are different in both sexes. This is due to hormones, environment and other factors. This means our bodies react differently, and oftentimes, one sex can be more prone to disease than the other. It also means that once a disease develops, each sex experiences different symptoms.
For example, women are able to taste sweet and bitter better than men, and in general, have a more sensitive gut. My personal theory is that since women were typically gatherers, we needed a stronger sense of taste to pick out the sweetest, non-poisonous foods. Women also empty food from their stomach at a slower pace and have less stomach acid. And because of our unique biology, we are more prone to pesky digestive issues.
Six Common Digestive Problems You’re Likely to Experience
HeartburnAs women are more sensitive to certain foods than men, they are more likely to experience heartburn. Therefore it’s especially important for women to have a balanced diet with less spicy and unhealthy foods.
NauseaAs a women’s stomachs secrete less acid and empty slower, women are more prone to bloating and nausea. If you experience this problem frequently, try smaller, lighter—and in some cases, more frequent—meals.
GastritisWomen are often more likely to take aspirin or similar medications, which can damage the lining of the stomach and lead to inflammation, also knows as gastritis. Here’s a quick fix: look for natural and herbal alternatives to your common over-the-counter aspirin and anti-inflammatories.
ConstipationThe bowels of women—like the stomachs—empty slower, which means women are more prone to constipation. To prevent constipation, it’s important to eat enough fibre, drink enough water and keep your body moving. You can also try an herbal supplement like Pegaga by PurelyB to help with digestion and detoxification.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)Stomach sensitivity, together with hormones, makes women twice as likely to suffer from IBS, which is a common disorder that affects the large intestine and includes symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea or constipation. IBS triggers seem to be foods and stress, so it’s important to be mindful about your stress management and diet.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Chron’s and Ulcerative Colitis are also more frequent in women. Symptoms may vary depending on how acute the inflammation is, and can include diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain and even blood in your stool. One possible cause could be an immune system malfunction that causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract. Women having a stronger immune response are more prone to autoimmune diseases. As with IBS, the best way to manage this problem is with diet and stress management.
As you can see, as women we are more prone to some diseases, but there is good news—we’re less prone to others, and all of the digestive problems listed above can be managed with a healthy lifestyle. So don’t forget your veggies, chant some “OM”s and get moving!