Diabetes damages the digestive system and can lead to a condition called Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis means the paralysis of your stomach.
Before you can understand how this condition develops, you first need to understand how the digestive system works. The digestive system comprises of a food tube (esophagus), a stomach and intestines which resemble pipe-lines.
The food we eat enters into our stomachs through the esophagus. Inside the stomach, the food gets partly digested. A valve-like structure at the end of the stomach called the pyloric sphincter allows the food in the stomach to then enter into the intestines.
Like all other parts of your body, your stomach receives signals from nerves. The nerve supplying the stomach is called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls the movements of the stomach and allows the pyloric sphincter to relax.
When one has diabetes, it means they have uncontrolled levels of blood sugar. High blood sugar damages almost all the nerves in the body, including the vagus nerve too.
As a result, one can develop gastroparesis in which the stomach does not contract and pyloric sphincter does not relax to allow the food to enter into the intestines. This way, the food remains in the stomach for too long.
If you have gastroparesis, you may develop some or most of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the stomach
- Feeling of fullness
You can use the following precautions to control these symptoms:
- Consult your doctor if you’re a person with diabetes and you’ve started to experience any of the above symptoms.
- Eat smaller meals instead of bigger meals.
- Try to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day instead of eating 2-3 bigger ones.
- The fiber in your diet may complicate the symptoms. So you should avoid eating raw vegetables. Instead, cook your vegetables well before eating them.
- Avoid fatty and fried foods.
The following food items may help improve your digestive symptoms: