We all know that one friend who can down 50 hot wings and be just fine, and that other friend who can’t eat a bowl of ice cream without stomach pains. And maybe you know certain foods are totally off-limits unless you want hours of cramping, gas, and a bloated belly the next day. Whether you think you’re able to digest just about anything or your system is on the touchier side, the process plays a vital role for all of us when it comes to getting our nutrients.
There’s a lot that goes into digesting even a small bite of food, too. Mayo Clinic outlines the process, saying your stomach works to break down the food you eat into tinier pieces. From here, those small pieces go to the small intestine, and the fluids from your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder work to break it down even further. When the food moves all the way through your small intestine — which is quite a process — it moves to the large intestine and eventually exits the body.
Grossed out? You shouldn’t be — this is the same process for everyone. But because digestion is such a long task that involves so many different organs, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go awry. The following disorders can give you uncomfortable stomach problems we all wish we could avoid.
1. Celiac disease
This autoimmune disease can lead to a wealth of digestion issues. The Celiac Disease Foundation explains those who have this disorder can’t eat gluten, as it damages their small intestine. Gluten is found in most of the processed foods we eat as well as several grains, which makes it particularly difficult to avoid. Even ingesting crumbs of bread or a sip of beer is enough to trigger problems. When damage occurs, you can’t properly absorb nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies.
Diagnosing celiac is incredibly hard, too, as there are more than 200 symptoms you can have. When children have the disorder, they’re likely to experience digestive symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. Oddly enough, only a third of adults who have it get these same symptoms. Many adults with celiac will have anemia, fatigue, and joint pain instead.