What Are the Causes of a Slow Digestive System?

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The digestive system includes everywhere our food passes through from the time it enters the mouth until it exits the body. When this process of passage gets slowed down for any reason it can cause pain and discomfort.

A rendering of the digestive system
A rendering of the digestive system (Image: video-doctor/iStock/Getty Images)

Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach contents do not empty in a timely manner due to an impairment of the vagus nerve.

Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach contents do not empty in a timely manner
Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach contents do not empty in a timely manner (Image: janulla/iStock/Getty Images)

Medications

Certain medications, especially those used in the treatment of pain, can slow down the digestive system and cause constipation.

Certain medications can slow down the digestive system and cause constipation
Certain medications can slow down the digestive system and cause constipation (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Lack of Acid

The stomach produces chlorhydric acid which is used to break down protein and kill some bacteria. The absence of this strong acid causes dyspepsia, or slow digestion.

A lack of acid prevents the stomach from breaking down protein and killing some bacteria
A lack of acid prevents the stomach from breaking down protein and killing some bacteria (Image: Keith Bell/Hemera/Getty Images)

Diet

Eating a diet that is too high in protein and fat can cause slowed digestion because fats and proteins sit in the stomach longer than carbohydrates.

Eating a diet that is too high in protein and fat can cause slowed digestion because fats and proteins sit in the stomach longer than carbohydrates
Eating a diet that is too high in protein and fat can cause slowed digestion because fats and proteins sit in the stomach longer than carbohydrates (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Warning

Persons with slow digestion issues should consult their physicians for possible causes and treatment because this can have a negative effect on other body systems and impair overall health.

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