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A healthy and balanced diet with a regular and moderate exercise routine is the key to a long-term healthy and happy living. However, living a healthy lifestyle can become an obsession for many people which leads to strict food rules, an extensive fitness program, social isolation as well as eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or orthorexia. 

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food restriction and dieting

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Once someone turns their back on dieting, food and exercise obsession and/or their eating disorder, and decides to reintroduce long forbidden food groups such as carbohydrates, gluten, dairy, and salt can experience some uncomfortable digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, acid reflux or even diarrhea. 

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bloating

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There are several reasons why this can happen:

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  1. Low Level of Stomach Acid

Our Stomach is and should always be an acidic place. Stomach acid is produced when our brain signalizes our stomach that food is coming in order for our stomach to prepare for the digestive process. However, when someone goes on a diet that usually includes eating fewer calories, it leads to a low level of stomach acid as fewer foods are consumed. 

That means, the acidic place in our stomach becomes more and more alkaline over time due to the fewer times stomach acid needs to be produced. 

The result of a low level of stomach acid has a lot of negative consequences for our health since our stomach acid’s task is to protect our stomach from bad bacteria, viruses, candida, and yeast. In addition to that, it protects our microbiome and the good bacteria in our digestive tract that contribute to healthy digestion.

When stomach acid is low, good bacteria in the digestive tract are dying and as a result, bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, candida are finally able to grow. In this case, an imbalance in bacteria is developing in the body’s digestive tract.

This is why people experience a lot of digestive issues after going off a diet, calorie and food restriction program, as well as their eating disorder (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or orthorexia).

In addition to digestive issues caused by low stomach acid, another problem occurs. Stomach acid in our stomach is responsible for our body’s able to absorb vitamins and minerals from the food we’re consuming. If stomach acid is too low a vitamin and mineral malabsorption will be the result. 

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supplements

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2. Muscular Atrophy in the Digestive Tract

The second reason why digestive issues can occur after dieting or developing an eating disorder is that our body slows down its metabolism due to our body’s survival mode. Our body’s decreasing its metabolism means that muscle mass is getting broken down progressively. This process also affects the body’s digestive muscles as well as the heart muscle which is the most important muscle of the human body. 

A weak digestive tract leads to very slow digestive processes in the body which means digestive issues such as bloating and constipation are to expect. 

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3. Food Intolerances 

Another reason for digestive issues after dieting is because long abstinence from certain food groups can lead to an intolerance of these food groups. If someone goes on a very strict diet that only consists of healthy, natural whole foods that could experience a lot of digestive problems such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and acid reflux once unhealthier food options (processed foods) are reintroduced. 

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healthy food

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The same happens when someone only eats a raw diet and reintroduces cooked foods, or when someone leaves out carbohydrates, fats, gluten, dairy or animal products in general.

Our body adapts to the diet we’re eating and kind of “forgets“ how to digest other food groups that are not consumed on a regular basis. 

However, this shouldn’t mean that eating healthy foods is not good for you. This article should show you that obsessively eating a strict diet is not ideal for the human’s body and a balanced diet consisting of predominantly healthy food choices and some treats here and there are the way to long-term health, both mentally and physically.  

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chocolate

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You may also be interested in:

Article about how to reduce bloating and digestive issues (please click here.)

Article about the Setpoint-Theory and what happens after dieting or an eating disorder

Youtube video about digestive issues

I hope this article was helpful for you. If you have any further questions, you’re welcome to write them down in the comment section below or e-mail me via [email protected].

All the best,

Christina

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