If you regularly deal with issues like heartburn, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, you’re not alone. In a 2018 survey of more than 71,000 people published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 61% of respondents reported experiencing these types of symptoms within a one-week time frame.

And these symptoms can affect you beyond your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. “Digestive health really interacts with our overall feeling of well‑being. [It’s] really a key component for overall health,” says Sumona Saha, M.D., a board-certified internist, gastroenterologist, and associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in Madison. “And when that is off, often we see other symptoms outside the GI tract arise, like fatigue, lack of energy, poor appetite.”

The Role of Your Digestive System

Your digestive system plays a distinct role: It turns the foods you eat into the nutrients and energy your body needs to function properly. After your body absorbs the necessary nutrients from food, it then eliminates the rest as waste in the form of bowel movements.