Advice for supplements and optimal digestion

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Q: Do multivitamins that are made for women, mens, brain, heart, etc., really make a difference to your health? There seems to be a big debate recently about whether they are beneficial or even absorbed into your body. What is your opinion and advice? Hassan M., Allen Park

A: The supplements that make the most difference to your health (along with a well balanced diet), are vitamin D and calcium. A basic over-the-counter multi-vitamin is not harmful to your health in moderation. In regards to the myriad other supplements available for specific cures or method of prevention, there are not enough studies to prove that they are beneficial vs. placebo.

Q: What are best practices for maintaining optimal digestion? Does it help prevent disease? Renee S., Trenton

A: To keep your digestive system functioning at its best: eat light, frequent meals every fews hours; avoid fatty meals; minimize consuming red meats to once per week; eat slowly and chew carefully; avoid soda pop altogether; drink fluids before or after your meal (not during). Following these practices and being conscientious of your underlying functional issues and adjusting to them will help prevent disease. For example, since the functional issue heartburn can lead to chronic acid-reflux which can lead to esophogeal ulcers, cancer or other problems, manage your heartburn by avoiding foods that trigger acid such as coffee, oranges, tomatoes.

Q: I have not had a bowel movement in three weeks. Am I constipated? What is constipation? Karen G., Lincoln Park

A: You are constipated when you have bowel movements that are hard to evacuate and occur fewer than three times per week. So yes, you could be constipated, but if this is not normal for you, it could be a blockage. I recommend getting an abdominal x-ray with a likely follow-up colonoscopy if you have not had one.

Rana Sabbagh, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and nutrition. She is the founder of GastroCenter of Michigan and Experior Weight Loss Clinic, 23500 Park St., Suite 2B in Dearborn. Do you have a health question for Dr. Sabbagh? Submit it by email to: askthedoctor@cscmi.net.

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.