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Probiotics promote healthy digestive system

health-and-fitness Updated: Aug 27, 2013 15:04 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Hindustan Times
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My husband is 50 and has lactose intolerance. Is there a supplement or specific food that can correct this problem?
Everyone falls prey to an upset gastro-intestinal system at one time or another. Lactose intolerance is a disorder where a person is unable to break down sugars in the milk (lactose) due to the lack of enough of the digestive enzyme lactase. People with this condition are able to only partially digest dairy products. The symptoms comprise bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, gas and nausea. Take high potency probiotics for a month. Only then introduce small quantities of curd in your diet and check if the symptoms still persist. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that reside naturally in the intestines, helping promote a healthy digestive system, that may help with the digestion of lactose. Probiotics support the growth of intestinal flora. When you eat dairy products, you may need to consume a lactase supplement.

Yoghurt is rich in probiotics and aids digestion(HT Photo)

I have reflux disease and experience heartburn especially at night. What precautions should I take?

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, is a condition that occurs when gastric acid backs up into oesophagus. The most common symptom is heartburn or regurgitation, which results when the lower oesophageal sphincter cannot relax properly to allow food and liquid to flow down into the stomach. Acid then flows back up the oesophagus, causing a burning in the chest. Try eating 4-5 small meals per day instead of a large meal at a time. Sleeping or bending after meals can trigger heartburn. Stay in an upright position for 2-3 hours after meals. Being overweight also puts pressure on your abdomen causing acid reflux. Erratic schedule, oily, heavy meals and fried foods can trigger this condition too.

I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Can I do anything to reduce my discomfort?

It is a condition in which the large intestine is affected. Food may pass through the intestine either too quickly causing abdominal cramps, bloating and diarrhoea or it may pass too slowly causing hard stools, leading to constipation. Increase your intake of soluble fibre from fruits and vegetables. Flare-ups can vary from person to person, and your response depends, to some extent, on whether you have food intolerances or allergies. Eat small, frequent meals and consume plenty of water, and exercise regularly. To promote healthy gut flora, increase your consumption of fruits, legumes, whole grains and yoghurt. You may also take probiotic supplements. Supplements of L-glutamine are known to be beneficial in treating IBS. Above all, manage stress. Take calming herbs like brahmi to stay in a stable and balanced state of mind through the day.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.