What the Gut

It’s the biggest organ in your body, and you won’t believe what it’s been trying to tell you.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s the biggest organ in your body, and you won’t believe what it’s been trying to tell you.

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Your gut – i.e., your whole digestive system – is the one part of your body that’s constantly dealing with external elements (food, basically). Its main role is to process and absorb nutrients, but certain substances can complicate matters. For example, the consumption of allergens and toxic chemicals can cause bloating and discomfort – not something you want to put up with all day.

What’s more, Nutritionist Bridget Marr RD, Specialist Dietitian & Nutritionist at Nutritional Solutions says, “greasy meals high in fat and oil can trigger nausea as they empty from the stomach more slowly, while not drinking enough fluids or eating enough fibre from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains can lead to constipation.” It’s important to note that everyone reacts differently, so what you’re sensitive to might be very different from your friends or relatives.

Nutritionist Pooja Vig from The Nutrition Clinic advises a little caution when dealing with gut issues. “There are hundreds of over-the-counter remedies, but unfortunately, many of them can cause additional digestive problems and very rarely address the root cause. It’s similar to putting a band-aid on an injury rather than looking at the cause.”

For a natural remedy to your gut problems, you can try peppermint tea, a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in water, or chewing on some fennel seeds. You might also want to avoid the following foods and see if you notice a difference:

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Foods to avoid for a healthy gut

1 Fermentable carbohydrates

These contain carbs that can trigger bloating and flatulence. Examples: onion, garlic, beans, cauliflower, wheat and sugar-free mints.

2 Sugar

Your teh peng, bubble teas and iced frappuccinos can have up to 20 teaspoons of sugar in them! Over time, sugar can compromise your gut health and cause bloating. Examples: kopitiam drinks, bubble tea and frappuccinos.

3 Unsprouted grains and legumes

This refers to any grains or legumes that haven’t been soaked in water and left to sprout, making them harder to digest. Examples: rice, lentil and quinoa.

4 Lactose

Most people can stomach a bit of lactose, the sugar found in cow’s milk, but for some, it can result in digestive issues, excessive mucus and headaches. Examples: milk, soft cheese and butter.

5 Gluten

Unfortunately, if it’s comforting, it’s probably going to cause your gut to be inflamed. One in seven people are sensitive to gluten. Examples: breads, pancakes, pizza, pasta, noodles and pastries.

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Guard your gut at the hawker centre

Yes, it’s possible to eat healthy at the hawker. Nutritionist Pooja Vig tells us how.

“A lot of local dishes are focused on gluten, grains, sugary sauces and hydrogenated oil. Try to avoid anything deep-fried, choose rice noodles and broth-based soups, and focus on dishes with lots of vegetables and protein.”

“Bone broth is a good example of a local dish that really supports gut health, but look for an outlet that makes herbal soup without MSG.”

Images Text Karen Fong.

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