Here’s what you can do for better gut health.
A healthy digestive system regulates immune and allergy functions and communicates with your brain to lift your mood and metabolism. Plus, it gives you great skin too.
So it’s probably little surprise that poor gut health can cause all sorts of issues.
“It can lead to wide-ranging problems such as arthritis, liver disease, obesity, and allergic and autoimmune diseases,” says Dr Melvin Look, Director of PanAsia Surgery in Mount Elizabeth Hospital and consultant surgeon in gastrointestinal, laparoscopic and obesity surgery.
“It can also result in bothersome symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea. Major gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammation or cancers can lead to even more serious consequences.”
Want to start showing your digestive system more TLC? Then you should probably learn about the key things that can affect its barrier system. We got Dr Look to tell us about five of them.
Take more fibre
This includes consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. Fibre helps keep colon cells healthy and aids digestion (regulates bowel movement).
Take probiotics and prebiotics
Prebiotics are found in onions, garlic, bananas and whole grains. Probiotics are found in yogurt, sauerkraut and cultured milk drinks. Prebiotics are nutrients that help feed the probiotic bacteria in our gut, while probiotics are the microorganisms that promote gut health.
Reduce your intake of red meat and alcohol
Dr Look recommends consuming red meat and alcohol in moderation, and that animal protein be replaced with plant sources of protein such as legumes, nuts and tofu where possible.
Reduce your intake of foods high in fats and fructose
Foods high in fats and fructose (sugar found naturally in fruits and honey) may disturb the gut barrier and should be consumed in moderation. Avoid excessive consumption of sweetened processed foods, cakes, candies and sweet beverages as they‘re usually full of sugar and corn syrup, which are made with fructose.
Reduce stress and adopt healthier lifestyle habits
Other non-dietary factors that can disturb our gut barrier include chronic stress and inadequate or excessive exercise. Dr Look also recommends an abstinence from smoking.
A version of this story first appeared in CLEO. Offering an insider perspective on everything a twenty-something woman in Singapore wants or needs to know, CLEO Magazine is now available in both print and digital formats. Visit www.CLEO.com.sg to subscribe.