A recent survey conducted among UAE residents found nearly one in four say their overall digestive health “could be improved.” We examine the benchmarks of a healthy digestive system, symptoms that should be treated, advice on speaking with your doctor or pharmacist and tips to maintaining optimal digestive health throughout the year. Digestive health is the cornerstone of overall wellness and a marker for how your body is functioning. The digestive tract is a system of organs that takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients your body needs to thrive, and expels the remaining waste. Digestive health and the immune system are inextricably linked given nearly 70 % of your body’s immune system resides in the digestive tract.
Do I Have Good Digestive Health?
When a digestive system is strong, you’ll experience regularity – having a normal bowel movement anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. When a digestive system is unbalanced, you may suffer from conditions such as diarrhoea that occurs when the digestive system becomes unbalanced and food or liquids move too quickly through the body. Or constipation, where a person has fewer than three bowel movements a week. With diarrhoea, the severity of the condition can vary among individuals – ranging from acute (sudden onset, perhaps as a result of food poisoning or travelling) to chronic conditions (prolonged, lasting more than four weeks) – and characterised by symptoms including cramping, abdominal pain and bloating. Despite widespread belief, ‘normal’ can vary greatly from individual to individual, so it’s important to consult your doctor or pharmacist if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis and you think your digestive health could be improved.
Digestive Health In The UAE
People across the globe, including UAE residents, have likely been affected by diarrhoea at some point in their lives. This condition can cause sufferers to miss school, work, family and social gatherings. According to a recent survey conducted among approximately 1,000 UAE residents, 23 % of diarrhoea sufferers say they did not treat their diarrhoea. There are many reasons why don’t receive treatment such digestive conditions and the these range from people believing that it’s best for diarrhoea to ‘run its course’ to not knowing how to treat the condition.
Addressing Digestive Health Issues
The Best Way: There are many myths in the region associated with the treatment of digestive conditions. For example, some patients believe they shouldn’t take medication because their condition isn’t ‘severe enough,’ or that diarrhoea is considered a defence mechanism to flush out toxins and pathogens in their body. Others are simply embarrassed to talk about digestive health conditions with their doctors.
According to Dr. Fatma Al Attar, Head of Preventive Services Center, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), leaving diarrhoea untreated only worsens the distress and discomfort of the individual suffering and can lead to continued abdominal pain and in some cases dehydration.
Through treatment you can help to reduce the associated loss of fluids and salts. I encourage all healthcare professionals – including general physicians and pharmacists – to aid in breaking down these barriers to treatment by having open and honest conversations with their patients about digestive health. And equally important, patients should feel comfortable speaking with their doctors on the topic, as the more details you share, the better your doctor can help to restore your digestive balance. – Dr. Al Attar
Top Tips For Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy
- Eat Healthily
Make sure your diet is well balanced and includes variety. Eating slowly helps to avoid uncomfortable indigestion and avoiding foods that are spicy, rich or high in fat will help reduce the chance of diarrhoea or constipation.
- Be Active
Physical activity speeds up digestion, increases blood flow to all your organs, and stimulates muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, improving your DIGESTIVE HEALTH. Exercise can also reduce stress levels. If you aren’t in good shape, start small, just by climbing the stairs in your office or apartment building or by taking a short walk each day.
- Keep A Diary
Get to know your own body. Try writing down specifics about what you’re eating, how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, and how each of these affects your digestive health. After a couple of weeks, work with your doctor to see if you notice any patterns or perhaps triggers
- Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids, especially after you exercise. There’s almost nothing better for your overall health than water.