Tag Archives: inflammatory bowel disease

Be kind to your digestive system – 1

Fibre for constipation

When it comes to tackling constipation, it doesn’t have to be prune juice. There are plenty of other delicious, natural solutions to help keep you regular. Fill up with fibre-rich foods like cherries, peppers, beans, wholegrains, lentils and nuts to help the digestive process.

Look after your digestive system.

Most people in the UK don’t eat enough fibre – the official recommendation is 18g a day, along with plenty of fluids. Fibre may have other health benefits too, including staving off weight gain, heart disease, blood sugar swings and piles.

Weight loss and heartburn

Fatty foods and rising levels of obesity have been linked to the rise in heartburn cases in the UK. Carrying extra weight can worsen digestive issues like heartburn and some research suggests that obese and overweight men and women who suffer from heartburn may get relief by losing some weight.

A healthy diet and regular exercise are a critical part of any weight loss programme. Check with your GP to ensure any new weight loss plan is right for you.

Eat less to beat bloating

A simple step to curb the discomfort of bloating, indigestion and heartburn, is to eat a small amount often. You can also eat smaller, more frequent meals more slowly – to avoid overloading your digestive system. Getting into a routine with smaller meals may also gradually reduce your stomach volume – making you feel full when eating less.



Fluids for constipation

Fueling your digestive system with plenty of fluids helps remove waste and curb constipation. Water and juices work well, along with foods that have a high water content, such as salad. Drinking plenty is especially important if you are increasing your fibre intake in order to counteract constipation. Talk to your doctor about how much fluid is right for you but the general recommendation is about 1.2 litres a day or 6-8 glasses.

Exercise for bloating

Staying active is excellent for your digestive health. Taking a brisk 20 – 30 minute walk, 4 times a week, can improve your bowel function and reduce bloating. Exercise, along with sufficient hydration, keeps things moving and helps eliminate waste. Exercise is also an excellent reliever of stress that can be a key trigger of digestive problems.

Friendly bacteria

Probiotics are often referred to as “friendly bacteria”. They are microorganisms that are similar to helpful bacteria found in the body.They occur naturally in fermented foods like some yoghurts and may be added to juices, snacks and supplements. Some research suggests that probiotics may help stomach upsets, such as diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, more research is needed and it’s unclear what type of probiotics may help and the dose needed.

Gut bacteria may help fight obesity

Bacteria living in our guts seem to be affecting our waistlines and harnessing them could lead to new ways of shedding the pounds, US research suggests.

The human body is teeming with thousands of species of microbes that affect health.

A study showed that transplanting gut bacteria from obese people into mice led to the animals gaining weight, while bacteria from lean people kept them slim.

The findings were published in Science.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, Missouri, took gut bacteria from pairs of twins – one obese, one thin.

The bacteria were then put into mice which had grown up in completely sterile environments and had no gut bacteria of their own.

Mice with the obese twin’s bacteria became heavier and put on more fat than mice given bacteria from a lean twin – and it was not down to the amount of food being eaten.

There were differences in the number and types of bacteria species from the lean and obese twin.

Overall it seemed those from a lean twin were better at breaking down fibre into short-chain fatty acids. It meant the body was taking up more energy from the gut, but the chemicals were preventing fatty tissue from building up and increased the amount of energy being burned.

One of the researchers, Prof Jeffrey Gordon, told the BBC’s Science in Action programme: “We don’t dine alone, we dine with trillions of friends – we have to consider the microbes which live in our gut.”

However, the diet was also important for creating the right conditions for the lean twin’s bacteria to flourish. A bacterial obesity therapy seems unlikely to work alongside a a diet of greasy burgers.

Keeping both sets of mice in the same cage kept them both lean if they were fed a low-fat, high-fibre diet. Mice are coprophagic, meaning they eat each other’s droppings, and the lean twin’s bacteria were passed into the mice which started with bacteria that should have made them obese.

Gut microbes

Gut microbes

However, a high-fat, low-fibre diet meant the mice still piled on the pounds.

A human obesity treatment is unlikely to use transplants of thousands of species of bacteria from lean people’s guts as it carries the risk of also transferring infectious diseases.

Instead a search for the exact mix of bacteria which benefit weight – and the right foods to promote their growth – is more likely.

Prof Gordon said the next steps in the field would be “trying to figure out how general these effects are, what diet ingredients may promote their beneficial activities and to look forward to a time when food and the value of food is considered in light of the microbes that live in our gut – that foods will have to be designed from the inside out as well as from the outside in.”

Commenting on the research, Prof Julian Parkhill, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said he expected a future when manipulating bacteria was a part of obesity treatment.

“There’s a lot of work to do, but this is proof of concept that bacteria in the gut can modulate obesity in adults, but it is diet-dependent,” he said.

He added that changing bacteria was a promising field for other diseases.

He told the BBC: “It’s an exciting new area, but I think we need to be careful in promoting it as a cure-all.

“It’s clear in specific areas – inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, Crohn’s – the microbiome is going to be important.”