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Champion HHC Health Information Library

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Bowel Movement

A bowel movement is the last stop in the movement of food through your digestive tract. Your stool passes out of your body through the rectum and anus. Another name for stool is feces. It is made of what is left after your digestive system (stomach, small intestine, and colon) absorbs nutrients and fluids from what you eat and drink.

Sometimes a bowel movement isn't normal. Diarrhea happens when stool passes through the large intestine too quickly. Constipation occurs when stool passes through the large intestine too slowly. Bowel incontinence is a problem controlling your bowel movements. Other abnormalities with bowel movements may be a sign of a digestive problem.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Carbohydrates

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are sugar molecules. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of three main nutrients found in foods and drinks.

Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs. Glucose can be used immediately or stored in the liver and muscles for later use.

What are the different types of carbohydrates?

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

  • Sugars. They are also called simple carbohydrates because they are in the most basic form. They can be added to foods, such as the sugar in candy, desserts, processed foods, and regular soda. They also include the kinds of sugar that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk.
  • Starches. They are complex carbohydrates, which are made of lots of simple sugars strung together. Your body needs to break starches down into sugars to use them for energy. Starches include bread, cereal, and pasta. They also include certain vegetables, like potatoes, peas, and corn.
  • Fiber. It is also a complex carbohydrate. Your body cannot break down most fibers, so eating foods with fiber can help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat. Diets high in fiber have other health benefits. They may help prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. They may also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber is found in many foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
Which foods have carbohydrates?

Common foods with carbohydrates include:

  • Grains, such as bread, noodles, pasta, crackers, cereals, and rice
  • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons, and oranges
  • Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt
  • Legumes, including dried beans, lentils, and peas
  • Snack foods and sweets, such as cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
  • Juices, regular sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks that contain sugar
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and peas

Some foods don't have a lot of carbohydrates, such as meat, fish, poultry, some types of cheese, nuts, and oils.

Which types of carbohydrates should I eat?

You do need to eat some carbohydrates to give your body energy. But it's important to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates for your health:

  • When eating grains, choose mostly whole grains and not refined grains:
    • Whole grains are foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole cornmeal, and oatmeal. They offer lots of nutrients that your body needs, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To figure out whether a product has a lot of whole grain, check the ingredients list on the package and see if a whole grain is one of the first few items listed.
    • Refined grains are foods that have had some of the grains removed. This also removes some of the nutrients that are good for your health.
  • Eat foods with lots of fiber. The Nutrition Facts label on the back of food packages tells you how much fiber a product has.
  • Try to avoid foods that have a lot of added sugar. These foods can have many calories but not much nutrition. Eating too much added sugar raises your blood sugar and can make you gain weight. You can tell if a food or drink has added sugars by looking at the Nutrition Facts label on the back of food package. It tells you how much total sugar and added sugar is in that food or drink.
How many carbohydrates should I eat?

There is no one-size-fits-all amount of carbohydrates that people should eat. This amount can vary, depending on factors such as your age, sex, health, and whether or not you are trying to lose or gain weight. On average, people should get 45 to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates every day. On the Nutrition Facts labels, the Daily Value for total carbohydrates is 275 g per day. This is based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Your Daily Value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs and health.

Is it safe to eat a low-carb diet?

Some people go on a low-carb diet to try to lose weight. This usually means eating 25g and 150g of carbs each day. This kind of diet can be safe, but you should talk to your health care provider before starting it. One problem with low-carb diets is that they can limit the amount of fiber you get each day. They can also be hard to stay on for the long term.

Child Nutrition

A healthy diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent obesity and weight-related diseases, such as diabetes. To give your child a nutritious diet:

  • Make half of what is on your child's plate fruits and vegetables
  • Choose healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts, and eggs
  • Serve whole-grain breads and cereals because they are high in fiber. Reduce refined grains.
  • Broil, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them
  • Limit fast food and junk food
  • Offer water or milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas

Learn about your children's nutrient requirements. Some of them, such as the requirements for iron and calcium, change as your child ages.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. Scar tissue forms because of injury or long-term disease. Scar tissue cannot do what healthy liver tissue does - make protein, help fight infections, clean the blood, help digest food and store energy. Cirrhosis can lead to :

  • Easy bruising or bleeding, or nosebleeds
  • Swelling of the abdomen or legs
  • Extra sensitivity to medicines
  • High blood pressure in the vein entering the liver
  • Enlarged veins called varices in the esophagus and stomach. Varices can bleed suddenly.
  • Kidney failure
  • Jaundice
  • Severe itching
  • Gallstones

A small number of people with cirrhosis get liver cancer.

Your doctor will diagnose cirrhosis with blood tests, imaging tests, or a biopsy.

Cirrhosis has many causes. In the United States, the most common causes are chronic alcoholism and hepatitis. Nothing will make the scar tissue disappear, but treating the cause can keep it from getting worse. If too much scar tissue forms, you may need to consider a liver transplant.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Colonic Diseases

Your colon, also known as the large intestine, is part of your digestive system. It's a long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract where your body makes and stores stool. Many disorders affect the colon's ability to work properly. Some of these include:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Colonic polyps - extra tissue growing in the colon that can become cancerous
  • Ulcerative colitis - ulcers of the colon and rectum
  • Diverticulitis - inflammation or infection of pouches in the colon
  • Irritable bowel syndrome - an uncomfortable condition causing abdominal cramping and other symptoms

Treatment for colonic diseases varies greatly depending on the disease and its severity. Treatment may involve diet, medicines and in some cases, surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases