New research suggests that over a third of the UK population regularly suffers from digestive illnesses. Aiming to increase public awareness of gut health, today marks the beginning of Gut Week 2003 in the UK, encouraging people to both eat healthily and be aware of the symptoms of gut disorders.
The week is the result of a joint collaboration between the national charities The Digestive Disorders Foundation and The IBS Network and Japanese probiotics firm Yakult.
Guidelines for a healthy digestive system, as suggested by professor Colette Shortt, of the University of Ulster and director of science at Yakult, include a balanced diet, plenty of fluids, limited alcohol, encouragement of friendly bacteria and exercise.
Consumers are being advised to eat a wide variety of foods, notably those rich in fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and carbohydrates, while highlighting the importance of the five a day rule for fruit and vegetables. Moderate amounts of meat, fish, eggs and protein alternatives are also recommended.
For those who cannot resist the temptation to snack, Shortt is urging consumers to cut back on sugary and fatty foods, suggesting instead that these foods be replaced with healthier options such as nuts or a piece of fruit.
As a Yakult employee it comes as no surprise that Shortt also stresses the importance of gut friendly bacteria, which she says will help keep a better balance within the gut and promote a healthy digestive system. However, recommended options range from live yoghurts and fermented milk drinks to foodstuffs such as bananas, onions and leeks, which are also said to encourage friendly bacteria.
In addition to the gut week, Yakult is organising an 'international Yakult symposium' onprobiotics, immunology and cancer running from the 9-10 October, 2003 in Heidelberg, Germany.
Cancer accounts for a quarter of all deaths in countries with a westernised lifestyle and diet plays a significant role in its aetiology, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. As such, the symposium has been designed to explore scientific developments in relation to probiotics and cancer, highlighting results from recent microbiological, immunological and epidemiological studies.