Dr Chong Chern Hao

6种诀窍减轻或预防胃痛症状

不规律的饮食习惯和压力极大 都会引起种种消化道的问题。在新加坡,很多成年人都会体验胃痛的症状,所以在本地的胃痛病例并不稀有。一般胃有毛病,痛的部位是「上腹部」,也就是肋骨以下、肚臍以上的位置,而且这种不适通常会在用餐时或饭后产生的。胃痛的程度可以从轻微疼痛到剧烈疼痛,甚至有烧灼的感觉。有些时候胃痛的症状也会伴随着其他与消化道有关系的症状例如腹泻、胃灼热、便秘和腹胀。

抗酸药虽然足以治疗胃痛,然而以下是一些更简单的方法处理胃痛,而这些都与您的生活习俗和饮食习惯息息相关。

  • 规律饮食

当您有固定的饮食时间,您的肠胃会定时在用餐时产生胃酸来消化食物。反之,不按时吃饭的您会使胃酸突然产生,加大胃部的压力进而导致肠胃不适。

  • 少量多餐

与其一天三大餐,建议您一天吃五或六顿小餐。这样有助于您消化更顺畅,也能够避免消化不良或其他消化道的问题。

  • 避免酗酒

长期酗酒很容易刺激腸胃黏膜,削弱了胃黏膜的保护作用。当肠胃反复接触到酒精会引起消化道的一些问题如胃部发炎甚至容易导致您胃痛和十二指肠溃疡。

  • 避免暴饮暴食,该细嚼慢咽

对食物充分咀嚼再加上每口饭之间都喝一口水,给予足够的时间让您的肠胃发射饱腹感的讯号到您的大脑,这样就有助于衡量您的饱腹程度。吃得过多很容易导致消化不良,进一步增加了胃部负担。

  • 选择吃较软、容易消化的食物来缓解胃痛

西兰花苗、酸奶、苹果、高纤维谷物和蛋白质(瘦肉、鸡蛋、鱼和家禽肉)应该多吃,因为这些食物能够平衡肠胃里的酸碱度。这些食物也有助于消化进而避免胃痛症状加重。总的来说,摄入这类型的食物能够让您在一两天内看到胃痛逐渐少的效果。

  • 避免吃易产气和刺激性的食物

辛辣食物、洋葱、蒜米、高脂肪乳制品、番茄及番茄制品、柑橘类水果和油炸高脂食物应该避免饮用。这类型食物都会刺激肠胃而且会阻碍胃痛的康复。

何时该看医生治疗胃痛

若您已经尝试改变您的饮食习惯,胃痛症状都没有改善,您就应该探望医生了。你也应该赶紧寻求医生的诊疗当您持续有这些症状如饭后呕吐、呕吐里带血或便血、突然体重暴跌和上腹部剧烈疼痛。这些症状都代表您可能有更严重的潜在病状。

如果您需要为您的胃痛问题得到专业的服务,在新加坡gutCARE诊疗所,我们拥有受过多年训练的专科团队,为您的消化道与肝给予最好的治疗服务。身为新加坡领先的肠胃病学团队,我们的诊所提供全面的高精度诊断和治疗服务。我们的医生会探讨有关您的症状和推荐合适的疗程以及进行检测以便能够进一步的调查或排除导致您胃痛的原因。

现在就赶紧在预定检测程序。

6种对您的肠胃好的超级食物

您所摄入的食物对您的肠道菌群的影响扮演者重要的角色,因此您所选择的食物是确保肠道健康的关键。高糖分以及过量加工食品会导致肠道发炎以及易于受感染,而天然食品却能支援您的消化道健康。

超级食物提供重要的营养素与维生素以促进身体健康,甚至有助于修复您的肠道。它们也能够互相扶持您的整个身子需求。

不妨尝试在您饮食种包含以下的超级食物:

  1. 鸡蛋

不像以前的研究报告,摄入适量的鸡蛋并不会提高您的胆固醇。鸡蛋富含营养素如维生素A、胆碱、铁质和磷。鸡蛋也含有两种强化抗氧化物成分既是叶黄素和玉米黄素,有助于支援眼部健康及保护视力。

烹饪鸡蛋的方法有很多类型,例如西式蛋饼、荷包蛋和烘烤。您也可以水煮一批鸡蛋,当作触手可及的零嘴。

浆果类除了含高纤维,它也富含矿物质、维生素和抗氧化物。这些营养拥有强烈的消炎功效,有助于扶持体内因运动不足、不健康饮食和压力所致的发炎。再加上,浆果类也含低卡路里,所以不妨将它加入您的各种饮食种。

  • 浆果类

浆果例子包括草莓、黑莓、覆盆子、蔓越莓和蓝莓。您可以把它加入您的早晨麦片、冰沙、酸奶或甚至当作零嘴生吃。

  • 蒜米

一个常用的烹调材料,蒜米因含有医疗功效已被采用了几个世纪。蒜米是维生素B5、锰、纤维、维生素C和硒的来源。蒜米以促进白细胞增殖来提升身体的免疫功能,这有效于抵抗疾病以及减少有害的低密度胆固醇和高血压。基本上,蒜米的抗氧化、抗菌和抗病毒的特征,是维持健康身体的超级食物。

  • 深色绿叶蔬菜

深色绿叶蔬菜如菠菜、芜菁叶、羽衣甘蓝和宽叶羽衣甘蓝是最佳的铁质、纤维、锌、镁、钙质和维生素C营养资源。它们也富含胡萝卜素,一种能预防特定癌症的抗炎成分。它们也有能力降低慢性疾病如第二型糖尿病和心血管疾病的风险。

您可以直接把它们加入沙拉或加点橄榄油、香料和调味料翻炒它。这类型的蔬菜也能够加入炖汤内一起烹饪。

  • 克非尔(也称牛奶酒)

发酵食品如克非尔富含益生菌和酵素,促进均衡的菌群从而得到健康的肠道。益生菌有助于缓解IBS症以及促进体内菌群平衡。克非尔也有其他对健康有益的作用,例如拥有消炎效果、降低血压、减少胆固醇以及改善消化功能,这是因为克非尔含有维生素B、蛋白质、钾盐等。

  • 坚果和种子

坚果和种子装在各种植物化合物内包含着抗氧化物和抗炎功效,有助于抵抗氧化应激。坚果和种子也富含纤维和对心脏有益的脂肪,从而能够降低心血管疾病的风险。

一般常见的坚果和种子包括奇亚籽、杏仁、腰果、核桃、亚麻籽、大麻籽、澳洲坚果和开心果。您可以加入满手的坚果和种子到您的酸奶、早晨麦片或燕麦或甚至当作零嘴来食用。它们也可成为很好的煮熟蔬菜和沙拉配角。

超级事物的列表永无止境,所以最佳的健康是必须与每天食用多种类型的营养食品来搭配。您可以尝试并入以上所介绍的超级食物在您的均衡饮食中,作为整体健康和预防疾病的主要方法。

若您患有消化道疾病如溃疡性结肠炎,有些食物例如汽水、乳制品、干果和高纤维食物可能会刺激一些临床表现如直肠疼痛、腹痛和体重下降。溃疡性结肠炎是导致肠道黏膜发炎和溃疡的疾病,需要进行结肠镜检查以减轻其临床表现和症状。

如果您有饮食上的顾虑或想了解更多适合您健康情况的食物,您可以咨询营养师或新加坡的肠胃科医生

5种可能导致您胃灼热的食物

在新加坡,胃灼热的病例非常普遍。胃灼热是一种在胸口或喉咙有灼热感的消化不良现象,一般是当胃酸逆流至食管所致。灼热感可能会加剧特别是当您躺下或弯腰。连接喉咙与胃的食管,无法承受胃酸,促成在食管所感受到的烧灼感。那种灼热感有时并不是只有轻度的不便之处,而有些却会影响您夜晚的睡眠或白天的日常活动。

胃灼热经常是胃酸逆流

的症状,是当胃酸逆流到食管而且还能够分成轻微至严重程度的医疗状况。胃灼热通常都在饭后才会发生,所以我们来探索食物如何成为一个人消化不适的祸害者。哪种普遍食物会引起胃灼热和您如何避免它毁掉您的一餐?

  1. 洋葱、蒜米和辛辣食物

虽然每个人的辛辣能耐度不一样,但是辛辣和味道浓烈的食物包括蒜米和洋葱对很多人都会引起胃灼热症状。辣椒、辛辣酱料和辣椒粉会刺激胃酸逆流。如果您想寻找替代品,您可以尝试在食物里加入其他增味剂如姜、肉桂、海盐及香菜。

  • 高脂肪食物

高脂肪的食物可能是胃酸逆流症状的首要祸害者。含有反式脂肪、饱和脂肪的油腻、油炸和加工食品甚至肥肉如火腿或培根会在肠道里逗留比较久。这种情况会使整体的消化过程变得缓慢,而且也会使食管下括约肌放松,即引起自发性反流。由于腹压增加促使食管下括约肌被逼撑开,这就会导致胃灼热的症状发生。

  • 巧克力和乳制品

巧克力里含有一种成分叫甲基黄嘌呤,已被证实会使食管下括约肌放松或弱化。这会导致胃里的食物易于反流到食管,也就形成胃酸逆流及胃灼热的症状。健康的乳制品例如乳酪和牛油含有会恶化胃酸逆流的脂肪。牛奶也会使胃酸过量分泌促成肠胃不适,特别是当肚子还饱的时候继续饮用它。

  • 柑橘类水果

过高酸性的水果和果汁,例如橙子、柠檬、酸柑、凤梨和葡萄柚会导致或恶化胃酸逆流的症状。这也包括番茄或番茄制品如披萨和萨尔萨里的酱料。

  • 咖啡因和酒精

对于那些经历胃酸逆流症状得人,但还想继续享受早晨咖啡,咖啡里的高咖啡因成分会引起胃里的胃酸分泌增加,导致症状如胃灼热发作。当您摄入酒精,这也使体内的肌肉,也就是食管下括约肌放松而增加了胃里的胃酸,促使更多胃酸进入食管。

记录在食物日记本

细心的留意及管理您的饮食有助于您辨认出独自的触发性食物以及能够让您控制好那些令您疼痛、不舒服的胃灼热。您应该记录每一个您进食的食物、食用的时间以及所产生的反应。有些食物和饮料能够通过中和胃酸来帮助您缓解您的不适,这些食物包括姜茶和燕麦。

餐后避免胃灼热

有些时候避开这些食物并不是很实际,但您可以注意以下的餐后预防措施。

  • 避免吃过量。一天三大餐,不如分成5至6顿小餐。
  • 避免睡前吃。在您躺下来之前,让您的食物有至少2小时的时间消化。这会让食物有足够的时间从胃排到肠道里,而避免食物再往食管逆流。当您吃完就立刻躺着,这会促使消化变得困难并增加发生胃灼热的可能性。

胃灼热也是胃食管反流病(GERD)的症状,而GERD  的其他症状包括恶心、胸闷、持续干咳、口中有酸味和难以吞咽。若这种症状频繁发生而且还再一星期内两到三次有胃灼热症状发作,咨询我们gutCARE诊所的医生。我们是位于新加坡的肠胃科诊所,提供全方位的亚专业护理以及肝脏和消化系统疾病的临床服务。我们的专家会与您合作以找出最准确的GERD诊断并给予最合适的医疗处方。

您需要知道有关结肠癌检查的五项事

结肠癌病例在新加坡逐年升高,定期进行结肠癌检查能够趁早发现患有结肠癌的可能性。结肠癌,也称为大肠癌、结肠直肠癌是本地男性的第一号癌症杀手,也是女性当中排名第二的常见癌症。

由于它既便宜又简单,粪便免疫化学试验(FIT) 是世界各地常用的检测方法。新加坡防癌协会通过癌症检测计划,每年都会分发粪便免疫化学检验器(简称FIT检验)以预防结肠直肠癌。FIT检验器也可以在常见诊疗所或药行以低价格索取。

若您的粪便免疫化学试验(FIT)是阳性,建议您进行更仔细地检测 —— 结肠镜检测。以这种策略(使用FIT检验)足以降低因癌症的死亡病例。然而,有些关于结肠癌检查的重要事项,您必须懂。

结肠镜检查比较有效

FIT检测检出癌症的敏感性为 80%,检出大肠息肉的敏感性为 20% – 30%。这代表FIT一次的检测10个大肠息肉中有7个可能无法检出,而10次结肠癌可能有2次漏检。这就与结肠镜检查形成鲜明的对比。专业的肠胃科医生较为能够在第一次的结肠镜检查中就检测出大部分的息肉与结肠癌。结肠镜检查不被推荐为主要的检测方案是因为检测费用较为昂贵。

输水式结肠镜检查

这较新的方法是病人在插管时不再吹入二氧化碳而是以输水方式的结肠镜检查方法。这种方式减少镇静剂的使用量也增加了结肠镜检查插管的安全性。

使用冷圈套息肉切除术(CSP)

当肠胃科专家使用冷圈套息肉切除术去除小息肉,导致大肠穿孔及出血的几率比较低。由此可见,全球专家使用这种方法的趋势也逐日上升。

专家的技术很重要

肠胃科医生是专门执行内窥镜检查,特别是结肠癌检查的专业人士。受过良好训练的肠胃科医生应该要有较高的结肠镜检查次数、能够平均在5分钟内将结肠镜推进至盲肠、 撤回结肠镜时至少花费6分钟检查结肠及拥有至少25%的腺瘤检出率(ADR)。

我应该何时进行结肠镜检查?

指南中最新提出,对无特殊风险的普通人群,检查开始的年龄,由原先推荐的50岁开始检查,提前至45岁开始检查, 提早了5年。主要原因是结肠癌新发病例,趋于年轻化,年轻人中越来越常见。当然推荐检查年龄与检测费用必须两者平衡。若费用负担得起,检查就可以趁早进行。结肠癌检查必须包含在体检程序中才算是完整的健康检查。对于特殊高风险人群(包括曾有肠癌、特定息肉病的家族史和/或个人病史)应该寻求专家推荐进行结肠癌检查的年龄。

How do i get Hepatitis B And What Are The Risk Factors i should be awared of?

Hepatitis B (HBV) is virus that primarily causes inflammation of the liver. It can lead to scarring of the organ, chronic infection, liver failure and liver cancer. If it isn’t treated, it can be fatal. One can become a chronic carrier if the infection lasts for more than six months.

HBV can spread commonly through:

  • Sexual contact – There is likelihood of contracting hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with an infected person. The virus can be passed to you if the person’s saliva, blood, vaginal secretions or semen enter your body.
  • Sharing of needles – Needles and syringes that are contaminated with infected blood can spread HBV easily. You can face a high risk of hepatitis B if you share IV drug paraphernalia.
  • Needlestick injuries – HBV is a concern for healthcare workers, and people who work with hypodermic syringes and other needle equipment, and come in contact with human blood. They are wounds caused by needles that puncture the skin accidentally, that typically occur during usage, disassembly or disposal of needles.
  • Mother to child – Women who are pregnant and infected with Hepatitis B can pass the virus to their infant during childbirth. However, the newborn can receive vaccinations to avoid getting the infection. Pregnant women or women who want to become pregnant should talk to their doctors about being tested for Hepatitis B.

Risk factors of Hepatitis B

The virus spread through contact with body fluids like blood and semen from an infected person. The risk of HBV infection increases if you:

  • Share needles during IV drug use
  • Have unprotected sex with someone who is infected with HBV or with more than one sex partner
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Work in a job with exposure to human blood
  • Travel to regions with increased HBV infection rates such as Asian, Eastern Europe, the Pacific Islands and Africa

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

There are often no symptoms of Hepatitis B, but it can also feel like other illnesses such as the flu. Hence, it is possible to have the infection and not know it. When they do appear, the symptoms usually show up about one to four months after being infected.

The signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Pale-coloured bowel movements

Seeing a Doctor

Head to a clinic and see a doctor immediately if you know you have been exposed to hepatitis B. Within 24 hours of exposure to the virus, a preventive treatment may help reduce your risk of infection. If you are showing symptoms, your doctor will examine for signs of liver damage such as belly pain and yellowing skin.

The tests that can help diagnose hepatitis B are:

  • Blood tests to detect signs of the virus in the body, and assess whether it’s acute or chronic
  • Liver ultrasound can show the amount of liver damage
  • Liver biopsy involves a small tissue sample of the liver for testing to check for liver damage

This article is written by Dr Chong Chern Hao, a gastroenterology specialist in Singapore.

What Is Jaundice And How It Can Be Treated

Jaundice occurs when there are high levels of bilirubin in the blood, causing the skin or whites of the eyes to turn yellow. This condition, called hyperbilirubinemia, is caused when there is a problem in any of the 3 phases during bilirubin production and metabolism.

Bilirubin is produced when the red blood cells is broken down and carried in the bloodstream to the liver where it binds with bile. Then, it is moved into the digestive tract, through the bile ducts, where it will be eliminated from the body, mostly in stools but a small amount in urine too. Thats why your urine and stool looks yellowish. When bilirubin cannot be moved quickly enough through the liver and bile ducts, the result is a build-up in the blood which gets deposited in the skin, leading to jaundice.

Causes of Jaundice

There are many causes of jaundice that contribute to these factors:

  • Bile duct obstruction
  • Bilirubin elimination problem
  • Liver damage
  • Massive destruction of red blood cells, which increaseas bilirubin production than what the liver can metabolized

Conditions that affect the excretion of bilirubin include:

  • Viruses attacking liver– Hepatitis A, Chronic Hepatitis B and C
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Medicines – NSAIDs, Antibiotics, Acetaminophen

Conditions that may cause an obstruction along biliary tract that prevents the flow of bile into the intestines:

  • Cholecystitis
  • Gallstones
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)

Symptoms of Jaundice

The obvious characterization of jaundice is yellow-tinted skin and eyes. You may also have dark urine and light-colored stools. Other symptoms include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, weight loss, and skin itching (pruritus).

It is important to not misdiagnose yourself when you experience yellow skin only, as it may be due to excess beta carotene in your system. It is an antioxidant found in foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. Too much of this antioxidant is not a cause of jaundice.

Look out for warning signs and more serious symptoms like stomach pain and tenderness, blood in vomit or stools, tendency to bruise or bleed easily, and changes in mental function such as confusion, drowsiness or agitation.

How is Jaundice Evaluated and Diagnosed?

When you visit a clinic in Singapore, your doctor will perform a physical examination and carry out blood tests to confirm the presence of jaundice and further determine its cause. Usually, imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) are done to detect blockages in the bile ducts. Sometimes, a biopsy may be required if certain causes are suspected or when the diagnosis is unclear after receiving the results of other tests. Treatments for jaundice depend on the cause identified.

4种方法管理肠易激综合症(IBS)

肠易激综合征(IBS)在本地已成为常见的一种影响结肠(大肠)的慢性病症。肠易激综合征通常根据腹部不适和排便习惯的不同症状而分类。肠易激综合征(IBS)的症状有腹部膨胀疼痛、排便习惯及粪便形态改变、腹泻或便秘。IBS不会危及生命,但是需要长期管理才能避免。

这种疾病可能对人的生活质量造成负面影响,影响他们的生活方式并带来社会心理影响。

肠易激综合症(IBS)导致社会心理的影响

若您有IBS,您可能会意识到自己开始避免某些社交场合,例如参加社交聚会或外出聚餐。尝试新的食物对于患有IBS的您是一种冒险行为,因为您预测不了这些食物会引发什么样的IBS症状,并且您也必须急于找到洗手间。当症状出现时,您会因此而感到焦虑、自信心低,使您对社交的指责感到恐惧。

除此之外,IBS也会影响您的每一天行程甚至会影响您的旅行行程。您必须额外努力策划您的行程特别是记录下每个行程上的洗手间数量及地点。然而,在国外,您可能就会遇到找不着洗手间的挫折,进而必须更小心对在国外所饮用的食物是否会引起您的IBS病症。这些症状也会给您带来工作上的不适和不便,影响您的心情及注意力。

此外,在家里这病症也间接地影响及带给您的伴侣无形压力。婚姻生活质量可能受到不利影响,无论是参加家庭郊游或享受亲密关系都会因为IBS症状而受到干扰。

要如何管理肠易激综合症(IBS)症状

以下是一些建议有益于管理您的症状或减低引起症状的风险:

  • 避免引起病状的食物:了解哪一类型的食物会引起您的IBS症状进而避免饮用这些食物。这样能够帮您在外社交时管理好您的病状。避免摄入牛奶、偏辣食物、酒精、高脂食物、巧克力和含咖啡因饮品,因为这些食物很可能会刺激您的肠胃或恶化您的症状。
  • 做好足够的防备:对于患有IBS病症的人做好充分的准备非常重要,特别是外出时有了这些所谓的“急救包”就方便多了。准备额外的纸巾、湿纸巾、药物或衣物对于患有IBS的您会有所方便之处。
  • 调理饮食习惯:有些人发现增加蔬果量和确保一天补充足够的水分有助于减少IBS症状及改善肠道的蠕动。
  • 仔细的记载:收藏食物记录表对于患有IBS症状的您不但能够帮您辨认引起病状的食物,您也可以加入您的心情、想法和睡眠时间来判断IBS症状带给您的影响。

治疗方案

患有IBS病症会使您衰弱也对于您的心理及生活质量带来负面影响。治疗IBS病状的方案需要通过有程序即针对性的方法寻找大多数引起病状的原因,而且每个因素因人而异。

若以上的方案并没有减轻您的病症,而且您经常会无理由的经历IBS症状,推荐您联系我们新加坡诊所与我们的医生交谈。我们训练有素的专业肠胃病医生团队,对IBS病症具有临床兴趣的专业人士组成,他们会针对每个病患的不同情况对症下药。您的医生会查询有关您的病史及生活习惯并推荐适合的药物或治疗方法。只要有明确的诊断和有针对性治疗方案,您就可以包有一丝希望过着无IBS病状,无忧无虑的生活。

FASTEST WAY To Boost Your Dietary Fiber Intake

Having an adequate fiber intake can bring many health benefits and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Found in foods, fibers can help in improving digestion, blood glucous levels, and lowering the risk of certain types of cancer and arthritis. Depending on the type of fiber, it also regulates blood sugar, helps with weight control and reduces constipation symptoms.

Seeing how essential dietary fiber is and the various health benefits it brings, here’s some quick, easy ways to incorporate fibrous foods into your daily diet with minimal effort.

  • Snack on fruits

Individual pieces of fruit make great snacks and they are portable and tasty. Some fruits have significantly more fiber than others. High-fiber fruits include apples, berries and pears. They can also be paired with foods that contain protein and/or fat such as cheese or nut butter, and improve fullness.

  • Eat the veggies first in meals

Vegetables are full of minerals, vitamins and fiber and offer plenty of health benefits including lowering your risk of several chronic diseases. It is a good strategy to eat your vegetables before a meal so you are able to eat more of them. Non-starchy vegetables such as artichokes, baby corn, Chinese spinach and carrots are high in nutrients and fiber while being low in calories.

  • Choose whole grains over refined grains

Due to the fact that whole grains are minimally processed, they are still intact with their germ, bran and hull, making them more nutritious. On the other hand, refined grains are only left with a fast-absorbing carb with the most nutritious parts taken away. Replace the refined grains with whole-grain versions in your diet, such as whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat bread. You can also try oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and barley.

  • Snack on nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds make for a heart-healthy snacks and are full of beneficial nutrients, protein and fiber. They are also versatile foods and shelf-stable, making them ideal to snack on during the day. They can also be added in recipes to add extra fiber and nutrition to your meals.

  • Include beans and legumes in your diet

Legumes and beans contain a wide variety of nutrients and they are rich in fiber, vitamins, protein and minerals. They also have a positive impact on the gut microbiome and may reduce the risk of chronic disease. For example, a cup of cooked beans can meet up to 75% of your daily fiber requirements. Try chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, alfafa, tamarind, red kidney beans and lupins.

You can adopt the strategies mentioned above to help boost your fiber intake to optimal amounts. Having a balanced intake is crucial so you can receive the benefits for your health. You can also consult with a dietitian or gastroenterology specialist in Singapore to learn more about incorporating more dietary fiber and boost your gut health.

This article is written by Dr Chong Chern Hao, He is a gastroenterologist in Singapore specializing in various gastrointestinal disorder and liver disease.

What Lives Inside Your Gut: Microbiome And How To Boost It

The gut microbiome is an expansive community of trillions of bacteria that lives in our gastrointestinal tract. Our microbial ecosystems have a major influence on parts of our body such as immune system, body weight, metabolism, mood and appetite. Throwing them off balance can cause us to fall sick, and some illnesses can also disrupt our microbial ecosystems.

Our microbiome can also change throughout our lives as our environment, long-term diet and lifestyle factors continuously play a role as we age. We also have varying gut microbiome which explains why people might have different responses towards the same foods. As researchers learn more about microbes and how it keeps us healthy, there is also an understanding that richer and more diverse gut microbes can help lower the risk of allergies and diseases.

So what can you do to maintain healthy gut flora and increase the number of good bacteria in your body? Start with these diet tips to give your microbiome a healthy boost.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods have been receiving a lot of attention for its various health-promoting attributes, and are known to be beneficial on the gut flora through a probiotic effect. These foods are fermented using natural processes which boost the nutritional values and probiotics, which are live microorganisms essential in healthy digestion. Try kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, unsweetened yoghurt, and soybean-based products like tempeh.

Polyphenol-rich foods

Polyphenols are found in plants and they refer to naturally-occurring compounds. According to researchers, polyphenols act as a prebiotic-type substance and have an effect on the composition of the gut bacteria, increasing the number of healthy gut bacteria. Good choices are berries, nuts and seeds, broccoli, red onion, coffee and tea – especially green tea.

High-fibre vegetables

Once consumed, each type of plant becomes either soluble or insoluble when they enter our digestive system. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation symptoms and speeds up the waste’s movement through the digestive tract. Some soluble fibers are prebiotic, such as inulin and beta-glucan, which helps the good bacteria in our gut to thrive. Good examples are onions and garlic, artichokes, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, broccoli and carrots.

It is crucial to increase your fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of fluids to ensure your waste movement in your digestive tract is going smoothly too. Too much fiber amount may cause bloating and stomach pain symptoms.

Cut down on sugar and artificial sweeteners

They are sugar substitutes commonly used as food additives and are also found diet soda and other soft drinks. Researchers found evidence that suggests consuming artificial sweeteners may adversely affect gut microbial activity which can pose a range of health issues. Consuming large amounts of sugar and sugary foods on a regular basis can be difficult on your gut to achieve a healthy microbiome.

When it comes down to the gut microbiome, our digestive systems plays a vital role in many areas of our health concerns such as immunity, mental health and metabolism. There may also be digestive symptoms such as chronic constipation and blood in stools that will require a colonoscopy to investigate them. Pay attention to what you are eating as your intestinal flora can influence your health in beneficial and harmful ways. You can also visit a gastroenterology specialist in Singapore to know more about your gut health.

The Silent Killer: The Truth About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th and 6th most common cancer to take lives in men and women in Singapore, respectively. More than 80% of cases cannot be fully treated by the time of diagnosis. About 5% of pancreatic cancer patients live beyond five years, but only 1% survive beyond ten years. What is pancreatic cancer, and why is it so lethal?

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ located in the upper abdomen, in between the stomach and the spine. The organ has two functions, which is to secrete enzymes to digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (exocrine function); and to produce insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar levels (endocrine function).

Pancreatic cancer occurs when a tumour grows in part of the pancreas, hindering the normal function of the pancreas. In advanced stages of the illness, the growth of the tumour can also metastasise (spread) to other parts of the body, which makes total removal of cancer cells close to impossible.

There are two main types of pancreatic cancer, depending on which part of the pancreas the tumour begins to grow in. The more common and also more aggressive type is the exocrine pancreatic cancer, wherein the tumour affects the exocrine function of the pancreas. The less common variant is the endocrine pancreatic cancer, in which the tumour affects the endocrine function of the pancreas.

Why is pancreatic cancer so lethal?

Pancreatic cancer is said to be an aggressive and deadly illness because most of the patients who are diagnosed have little chance of survival. Here are some of the reasons why pancreatic cancer offers little hope for patients:

  • There is no known cause: There is no known cause for pancreatic cancer, making it difficult to identify people who are at-risk. While there are some factors found to have correlations to pancreatic cancer, such as a family history of pancreatic illness, smoking, and obesity, these are still much too general to effectively predict or narrow down people at risk of developing pancreatic cancer, such that early diagnosis can be made.
  • Symptoms are non-specific: Doctors list the symptoms of pancreatic cancer to be upper abdomen pain, jaundice, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, malnutrition, and pale greasy stools, amongst others. However, these symptoms vary from case to case and are not specific to pancreatic cancer. This makes it difficult to immediately pinpoint the cause of symptoms to pancreatic cancer.
  • Symptoms arise when its already too late: Most cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when it is already too late to be cured. This is because symptoms of pancreatic cancer often only arise at the later stages of cancer when the tumour has already grown quite large. At this point, the growth would have infiltrated nearby organs such as biliary ducts, liver, surrounding lymph nodes, blood vessels and bones, making it impossible to remove at the time of diagnosis.
  • There is no reliable screening method: Unlike breast cancer or colon cancer where diagnosis tests are relatively reliable and accessible, pancreatic cancer lacks a reliable and widely available test for the masses to conduct regular checks. This makes it difficult to detect pancreatic cancer at the early stages when it is still curable.

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer continues to take lives with warnings that are too little and too late. What you can do is to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk factors of pancreatic cancer, and keep a lookout for warning signs. If you would like to know more about pancreatic cancer, you can consult a gastroenterologist specialist to tell you more about its symptoms, diagnosis methods, and treatment options.