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Triumph Over Tummy Aches


Today's Snack: Eat a banana; its high water content makes it a source of fiber that is easy to digest and soooo good for you






Washable markers

One or more people not afraid to bare their tummies


For those who have tummy troubles, a pain in the midsection is as familiar as it is annoying. Who wants to have a stomachache? No one! But it's more common than you might think. Since so much of our bodies have to do with eating and digesting our food -- our energy source -- it makes sense that our digestive tract may give us more trouble than many other body parts.


Your stomach has its own nerve center! Just as your entire body is connected by your nervous system so that your organs can operate and you can feel things, your stomach has its own network, and it has more than 100 million nerve cells. So when you're upset or sad or worried, your brain "communicates" with all those nerve cells in your stomach. They get the message that they should make more acid. That's because the brain is signaling the stomach that there's trouble, and there may be a need to digest food faster and have more energy on hand.


But more acid will no doubt make the stomach contract, or pulse, faster, and that in turn might give you the unpleasant after-effects of that excessive stomach action, including heartburn, cramping and diarrhea. Some people are sensitive to citrus fruit, peppermint, spicy foods or tomatoes, and a girl's menstrual cycle can also play a role in tummy troubles, as hormones are released and affect the digestive tract's operation.


Doctors say that there's a pretty strong link between extra-stressful times in life - including divorce, death, relationship problems, school problems and so forth - and the development of a whole syndrome marked by tummy aches. It's called irritable bowel syndrome, and it can really mess things up because when you feel the pains, you don't feel like doing anything else but laying there and moaning!


Not many people realize that serotonin, the "happy brain" chemical that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain to improve your mood, is actually manufactured by your body's midsection. That's why, when things change and people feel happier, often their tummy aches will go away!


Four things to do about tummy aches:


1.                         Chill out! If you're a go-getter kind of person, you might need to actually write down on your schedule 15 minutes a day that you are going to sit and do NOTHING except something fun and relaxing - talking to a friend, reading a book, or just walking or riding your bike for fun.


2.                         Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Help your stomach work better by supplying the "motion lotion" it needs to process your food!


3.                         Exercise three or four times a week for at least a half-hour. It's the best stress reliever there is, and will help you digest your food better so that the stomach isn't stressed out, too.


4.                         Eat a lot of high-fiber foods. Here's a list from the prestigious Mayo Clinic:




Make a Tummy Dummy. Draw a face on the tummy of anyone who's willing to expose theirs, with washable markers. Consider the navel to be the mouth, so add lips or teeth if you wish, along with other facial features, "hair," a "hat," and so forth.


If you can get more than one person to do this, it becomes more hilarious.


Now have the Tummy Dummies talk to each other, sing and otherwise carry on. Invent a situation or expand the tummy talk into a full-blown play! By sucking in your abdominal muscles, you can make your Tummy Dummy have different "facial expressions."


It's a lot of fun . . . if you can STOMACH that sort of thing!


By Susan Darst Williams Health 01 2008





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