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A GI doctor’s Wish List for His Patients

A GI Doctor's Wish List For PatientsWhile doctors can prescribe treatments for gastrointestinal (GI) problems, your body’s greatest ally is you. Here gastroenterologist Muhammad Memon, MD, independently practicing physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, counts down the top 8 things he wishes all people would do to keep their digestive track on the right track.

  1. Limit alcohol consumption. “If you consume too much alcohol in a week, you’re predisposed to liver problems,” Dr. Memon says, adding that many people don’t know about the damage they’ve done until it’s too late. He recommends men drink no more than 60 grams of alcohol (that’s about four beers) a week and women no more than 45 grams.
  2. Quit smoking. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, smoking can harm every part of your digestive system. It can cause heartburn and peptic ulcers and increase your risk for Crohn’s disease and gallstones.
  3. Follow doctor’s orders. By following our doctor’s suggestions for lifestyle modifications and taking medications as prescribed, you’ll avoid further complications and the possible need for surgery.
  4. Catch some quality ZZZs. Getting the food you eat through 25 feet of intestine is no easy feat, and your body needs energy to do it. Give it a boost by getting some rest.
  5. Pass on pumping iron. Weightlifting can increase your hemorrhoids and acid reflux symptoms, so talk to your doctor about ways to build muscle that won’t contribute to your GI issues.
  6. Schedule a colonoscopy when you turn 50 — or sooner if you’re at higher risk. For example, African-Americans should schedule their first test at age 45. “Colon cancer is the second most common cancer, and it’s most easily prevented with a colonoscopy,” Dr. Memon says. During this painless procedure, the physician can not only find colorectal polyps, which can be cancerous, but also often easily remove them.
  7. Eat a balanced diet and watch portion sizes. “Most of us consume more than we need and too quickly, resulting in overeating,” Dr. Memon says. The result is a digestive system that has to handle more than it should.
  8. And the No. 1 thing a GI doc wishes you would do:
    Get regular cardiovascular exercise. “Exercise is the most neglected part of digestive health,” Dr. Memon says. When you get your body moving, you help get your digestive system going as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. The good news: It can be broken up into 10-minute intervals. Just adding a brisk 10-minute walk after each meal will help your heart and your digestion.

Are your GI symptoms out of control? Let one of the doctors on our medical staff help. Find a physician in the online directory or call 214-947-0000.

Are your GI symptoms out of control? Let one of the doctors on our medical staff help. Find a physician in the online directory or call (214) 947-0000

*From the summer 2013 edition of Shine magazine.