Dhaka, Bangladesh
That gut feeling

That gut feeling

Harish Awasthi (name changed) is a young, dynamic software engineer working for a multinational company. Working till late into the night without taking a break, skipping breakfast, gorging on fast food, having a large bottle of aerated drink during lunch and smoking cigarettes at regular intervals to allay work stress is the 'routine' he has been used to. Dr D Nageshwar ReddyEverything seemed fine until recently, when he started experiencing a burning sensation in his chest, his stomach started bloating after meals and he felt the need to make several trips to the restroom in quick succession. To me, it served as a poignant reminder of what Greek physician Hippocrates put tersely: "All diseases begin in the gut." Hippocrates may have said it more than 2,000 years ago, but it is only now that we have begun to comprehend just how right he was. A healthy adult human harbours some 100 trillion bacteria in his gut alone. These bugs are diverse. And a conflict of interest among them causes disease. Research over the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall health. Lifestyle factors have major impact on gut health-increasing the consumption of high calorie junk food and alcohol with little intake of fibres and greens increases the risk of digestive system diseases and affect the Gastro Intestinal (GI) system adversely. Gastro oesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, obesity, fatty liver and peptic ulcer disease are among the few gastrointestinal ailments associated with lifestyle factors. Stress can also lead to digestive ailments. The typical stress response involves the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands. Stress also causes inflammation throughout the digestive system, which leads to aggravation of the digestive tract and affects the assimilation of nutrients. In the long run, stress can actually cause chronic digestive problems including problems like irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) and stomach ulcers. Gastrooesophageal reflux (GERD) is by far the most common digestive disease diagnosis during ambulatory care visits. gerd is the abnormal movement of acidic contents in the stomach back into the oesophagus. It not only produces heartburn and regurgitation, but is also the cause of a number of pulmonary, ear, nose, or throat symptoms. It is associated with considerable morbidity and complications like ulceration and stricturing of the oesophagus. Longstanding gerd can give rise to Barrett's oesophagus, which then leads to oesophageal cancer if not attended to on time. Selective lifestyle changes are especially helpful in people with mild, intermittent complaints. Some of these include elevating the head of the bed, avoiding tight-fitting clothes, losing weight if one is overweight, restricting the intake of alcohol and smoking, making dietary changes, refraining from lying down after meals, and avoiding bedtime snacks. Smoking and excessive drinking aggravate acid reflux into the oesophagus, increase acid production in the stomach and impair stomach ulcer healing. Recent studies indicate that smoking is a major co-factor- along with alcohol-in damaging the liver and pancreas. Pancreas is an important organ for digestion of all types of food, while the liver is vital for all metabolic activities in the body. Obesity, which is rising at an alarming rate in our country, is also associated with a number of gastrointestinal diseases like gall bladder stones, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease. In order to prevent the development of digestive diseases, it is imperative to maintain a healthy weight by consuming plenty of fibre-rich whole-grain food, fruits, green vegetables, lean meat and low-fat dairy products. It is just as important to consume plenty of fluids. In addition, it is a better option to consume small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of larger portions which can place pressure on the digestive tract. Contact a healthcare provider for additional treatment if you experience severe or long-term digestive discomfort.

Share |