Is My Digestion Normal?

Everyone knows the feeling of an upset stomach. You eat something that doesn’t agree with you. You overindulge. Maybe the food wasn’t properly prepared.

These are all temporary pains that solve themselves because our digestive system is amazing. It plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being. It's responsible for breaking down the food we eat, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. But how can you tell if your digestive system is operating correctly, and what should you do if it's not?

Signs of a Healthy Digestive System

When our digestion is normal, it helps us look and feel our best. That’s because signs of a healthy digestive system include:

  • Regular bowel movements — Normal bowel habits vary from person to person, but generally, you should have regular, comfortable bowel movements without excessive straining.
  • No chronic digestive symptoms Absence of excessive bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Well-tolerated foods — You can eat a variety of foods without experiencing discomfort, nausea, or allergic reactions.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight — Your digestive system helps absorb nutrients and regulate appetite, so maintaining a healthy weight is often a sign of good digestive health.
  • Energy and good spirits — A healthy gut contributes to overall well-being, so you should feel energetic and alert.

What to Do If Your Digestive System Isn't Healthy

If something’s not working like it should, it's essential to act quickly. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Consult a health care provider — If you have regular or severe digestive symptoms, such as blood in your stool, unexplained weight loss, or ongoing discomfort, consult a professional for a proper diagnosis.
  • Keep a food diary — Track your food intake and symptoms to identify potential trigger foods or patterns that worsen your digestive issues.
  • Stay hydrated — Proper hydration is essential for healthy digestion. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestive processes.
  • Avoid trigger foods Eliminate or reduce your intake of certain foods that consistently cause discomfort, no matter how good they taste.
  • Manage stress Stress can exacerbate digestive problems. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation can help.
  • Medications and supplements Your health care provider may recommend medications or supplements to manage specific digestive conditions.

How to Keep Your Digestive System Healthy

Preventing digestive issues is often easier than treating them. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy system from the start:

  • Eat a balanced diet Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to provide your gut with essential nutrients.
  • Fiber-rich foods — Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and helps prevent constipation. Incorporate foods like beans, whole grains, and fruits into your diet.
  • Probiotics Consider adding probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, or fermented products to your diet to support a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Stay active Regular physical activity can help promote healthy digestion by stimulating bowel movements and reducing constipation.
  • Hygiene — Wash your hands thoroughly before eating to prevent the ingestion of harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking — These habits can irritate the digestive tract and lead to various issues.
  • Stay informed — Learn about common digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and their management.

Helping You Stay Healthy

Your digestive system is central to your overall health, so it's essential to understand how well it’s working. AltaMed can answer questions about your gut health, or anything else that impacts well-being. Our registered dieticians are available to help you build a healthier diet. We can also assist you in putting together an exercise plan. Learn more by calling (888) 499-9303.

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Healthy Eating

Reducing Cholesterol for A Healthier Life

We’ve been hearing about cholesterol for years. It’s important for our health, sure, but what exactly is it? And why do our levels matter so much?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood. Our bodies need SOME cholesterol to function properly. However, elevated levels can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries and increase the risk of heart problems. Thankfully, staying safe is easy, so long as we know what to do. Let’s learn the right steps for keeping our levels low and our hearts healthy.

Watch It Closely

High cholesterol levels, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, can lead to a buildup of fatty deposits in our arteries – a condition called atherosclerosis. Over time, these deposits can narrow the arteries, restricting blood flow and potentially leading to heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular problems. By reducing cholesterol levels, we can significantly reduce these risks.

Tips for Reducing LDL


  • Start by adopting a heart-healthy diet.
    • Increase fiber intake Consume foods rich in soluble fiber, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and oats.
    • Choose healthy fats — Replace saturated and trans fats with healthier fats like those in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Limit intake of high-fat dairy products and fatty meats.
    • Pick lean proteins Select lean sources of protein like skinless poultry, fish, legumes, and tofu, while limiting red meat consumption.
    • Include omega-3 fatty acids — Incorporate fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines into your diet. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
    • Move — Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. That’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Engage in activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
    • Lift — Include strength training exercises to build muscle and support overall cardiovascular health. You don’t need weights. You can do resistance exercises like pushups, pullups, or sit-ups.
    • Consult — Talk to a health care professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Doing all the above will help you get to a healthy body weight, and then maintain it. You can achieve better cholesterol levels and better heart health.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Drink only in moderation. Just one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels, lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and raises LDL cholesterol. Seek professional help to quit smoking and promote heart health.

Know Your Numbers

We encourage you to work with your doctor to get your cholesterol level down. Join the AltaMed Dietician Consultations program to receive a tailored nutrition plan that will help you feel good and grow healthy. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll.


Essential Vitamins for Boosting Your Health and Well-Being

Did you know there are 13 essential vitamins your body needs to operate at peak efficiency? They’re found across a wide array of foods, which is why experts always recommend a balanced diet with lean protein, low-fat dairy, and leafy green vegetables.

For most of us, however, eating perfectly can be a struggle. Even when you do strike a good balance, your body may still need an extra boost of nutrients. This is where supplements come in. Based on blood work, or a conversation about your diet, your doctor may prescribe vitamin supplements to round out any gaps in your nutrient intake.

Here’s the essential vitamins to know, their health benefits, and the foods they’re found in. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A — including retinoids and carotene — is essential for healthy vision, immune function, and cell growth. It also plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the skin and mucous membranes. Good food sources of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and liver.

B Vitamins

The B vitamin complex consists of eight different vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). These vitamins are involved in energy production, brain function, red blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis. Whole grains, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens are excellent sources of B vitamins.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function, collagen production, wound healing, and iron absorption. Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, peppers, and leafy green vegetables are rich sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for bone health as it helps the body absorb calcium and maintain proper levels of phosphorus. It also plays a role in supporting the immune system. While the body can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, food sources such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks can help with intake.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. It is also important for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and immune function. Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. It is available in two forms: vitamin K1, found in leafy green vegetables, and vitamin K2, synthesized by gut bacteria and present in fermented foods, meat, and cheese.

Incorporating essential vitamins into your diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. While a balanced diet should be the primary source of these nutrients, certain individuals, such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or those with specific dietary restrictions, may benefit from vitamin supplementation. Remember to consult with a health care professional before taking any supplements to ensure it aligns with your specific needs.

Dietary Consulting Available

You spent a lifetime developing your current eating habits. It will take a while to build some healthier ones. The most important thing is not to beat yourself up over what you consume.

Healthy eating doesn’t need to be hard – especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dietitians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietitian: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

Dietician consultations are available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

Is My Digestion Normal?