Guarding guts

  • Health
  • Sunday, 27 May 2012

A panel of experts urge Malaysians to improve their digestive health in conjunction with World Digestive Health Day 2012.

ACCORDING to the Health Ministry’s Health Facts 2009, digestive system disorders are recognised as the sixth principal cause of death and seventh principal cause of hospitalisation in government hospitals.

Colorectal cancer is also the second most common cancer among both men and women (Malaysian Cancer Statistics 2007).

These alarming statistics reflect the prevalence of digestive diseases in Malaysia, and therefore, highlight the importance of ensuring good digestive health.

Our digestive system is influenced by what we eat, and closely linked to our lifestyle habits. Unfortunately, the health of our digestive system is often overlooked.

“Unhealthy diets and bad eating habits result in many common digestive problems like constipation, diarrhoea, gastritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and colorectal cancer. Equally harmful is sedentary lifestyles. This is reflected in the rise of gastrointestinal disorders and diseases among Malaysians,” noted Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, consultant gastroenterologist and chairman of the Digestive Health Advisory Board (DHAB).

DHAB was formed by the country’s leading experts in gastroenterology and hepatology, with the objectives of educating Malaysians on the rising prevalence and major risk factors of digestive health diseases, and to highlight the fact that digestive diseases are largely preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes.

The upcoming World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) 2012 on May 29, which aims to raise awareness on digestive health, sees expert collaborators such as DHAB, together with Nutrition Month Malaysia programmes, Positive Parenting, and National Cancer Council Malaysia (MAKNA), joining hands to disseminate knowledge and information to the public.

The programme is supported by the VITAGEN Healthy Digestion Programme, a long-term community service vehicle initiated by Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd. This year’s theme, “From Heartburn to Constipation: Common GI Symptoms in the Community: Impact & Interpretation”, reflects the growing global trend of the increase in gastrointestinal problems, and aims to raise awareness on these issues.

In order to create a more significant impact on the community, this year’s WDHD celebration in Malaysia takes on a more proactive approach by involving the public to make efforts to improve their digestive health, through a nationwide pledge called Guard Your Gut.

The online pledge utilises social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to involve more Malaysians from all walks of life.

Guard Your Gut is a nationwide pledge to urge all Malaysians to make a commitment to improve their digestive health. The good news is that digestive disorders can be prevented just by making simple changes to our daily diet and lifestyle. This is the purpose of the pledge – not only to inform and educate, but more importantly, to urge Malaysians to take their digestive health more seriously,” explained Dr Radzi.

Apart from the pledge, members of the public can also learn more about their digestive system through the “Healthy Digestive Journey”, a tunnel of interactive games and information for all ages.

Various other educational activities and games will also be held during the WDHD Roadshow, from May 29 to June 3, at The Curve, Petaling Jaya.

For more information on World Digestive Health Day 2012 and how you can make the pledge to Guard Your Gut, visit or contact the secretariat at 03 5632 3301/5637 3526.

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Health , digestive health , Vitagen


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