Cheers to good bugs

  • Wellness
  • Sunday, 04 Jun 2017

From left, Michael Ong, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi B Hj Yahaya, Assoc Prof Dr Raja Affendi B Raja Ali and Nordina Baharum at the press conference for the World Digestive Health Day 2017 celebration.

The topline results of a landmark clinical study by Pusat Perubatan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia revealed that consumption of cultured milk drinks that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei has various health benefits, including improving constipation and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

The year-long study, spearheaded by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), is the first of its kind conducted in Malaysia.

The research team, led by Principle Investigator and Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist, Assoc Prof Dr Raja Affendi Raja Ali, will continue to monitor and record the results of the study until its completion.

The preliminary results of the study was announced in conjunction with World Digestive Health Day 2017 (WDHD), which was officiated by Deputy Minister of Health Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Bin Haji Yahaya.

“I truly hope that the WDHD celebration will serve as a reminder to all Malaysians to take care of their digestive health. The state of the rakyat’s digestive health is apparent when looking at the Health Facts 2016 released by the Ministry of Health (MOH). It was revealed that diseases of the digestive system were the fourth principal cause of hospitalisation in private hospitals, seventh principal cause of hospitalisation in MOH hospitals, and sixth principal cause of death recorded in both MOH and private hospitals.

“Further to this, in the 2011 annual report issued by the Ministry of Health, it was revealed that colorectal cancer was the second most common cancer among Malaysians. It accounted for 15.7% of cancers among men, and 10.4% of cancers among women.

“The incidence of cancer was found to occur at all ages but the risk increases with age. It was also found that the after the 60 years of age, the incidence rate in men exceeded that of women,” said Dr Hilmi.

He also commended the efforts of the research team in finding ways to delve deeper into the factors that affect digestive health and their attempts of finding ways to positively affect it.

From left, Michael Ong, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi B Hj Yahaya, Assoc Prof Dr Raja Affendi B Raja Ali and Nordina Baharum at the press conference for the World Digestive Health Day 2017 celebration.

Dr Hilmi added: “Thus far, the results they have obtained show that consuming probiotics is effective in helping to lower intestinal transit time, meaning your body can absorb the nutrients in your food more effectively and in a shorter time.

“It appears that the preliminary findings of the HUKM research team, which is led by Assoc Prof Dr Raja Affendi, are very promising!”

The study involved 180 people evenly distributed between those who are healthy and those with IBS and symptoms of constipation (IBS-C).

Preliminary results indicated three major benefits, namely a significant improvement in intestinal transit time (ITT) for both healthy and constipated patients, significant improvement in the symptom of constipation among healthy and constipated patients, and a positive influence on the immune status of all patients.

ITT refers to the time it takes for your body to process food, starting from the moment it is eaten right until you eliminate it via a bowel movement.

A prolonged or extended ITT is indicative of chronic constipation or linked to common digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Based on the clinical study, the average ITT showed a significant improvement, from an initial average of 15 hours to nine hours for healthy participants, and 56 hours to 34 hours for patients with constipation.

Similarly, when comparing stool hardness, the results were also quite dramatic, dropping from 68% for all participants and patients to a low of only 4%!

Additionally, those who had reported always having to pass hard stools prior to cultured drink consumption decreased dramatically; stool consistency became softer, thus, reducing pain and discomfort that they suffered frequently before.

Results of this local study echoed the same conclusions from other studies of different strains of probiotics around the world – probiotics can improve bowel health.

Empowering the public

WDHD is organised by the Digestive Health Malaysia Society (DHM) in association with VITAGEN Healthy Digestion Programme.

DHM is an expert-driven, digestive health body that seeks to empower all Malaysians to manage their digestive health with confidence and optimism, thereby reducing the prevalence of digestive health diseases.

Other collaborators of the WDHD celebration include Nutrition Month Malaysia, Positive Parenting Programme, and National Cancer Council.

Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Bin Abu Hassan, the Chairman of DHM, elaborated: “There are many studies by academia in collaboration with the industry and expert bodies which have helped science to answer many of the questions surrounding the function of our gut and how it works.

“As such, DHM plans to expand its role from being the nation’s leading expert-driven, digestive health body, to helping build a bridge between educational institutions and the industry.

“Our collaborative research is also in line with the government’s call for more ‘translational research’ in which the government, academia, industry and the community, through expert bodies like DHM, synergise to produce solutions to national and international issues. We are certainly looking forward to unveiling the results of our study later on,” said Dr Muhammad Radzi.

Michael Ong, Deputy General Manager of Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd, said: “We have always been a strong advocate of prevention, and as a part of our ongoing efforts to create greater awareness on the importance of good digestive health, we are continuously supporting various community programmes that focus on raising awareness of the importance of digestive health.

“This year, we are pleased that by collaborating closely with experts from UKM, we will be able to gain a better understanding and appreciation of a healthy digestive system.

“The study found evidence on the efficacy of probiotics in cultured milk drinks. We are greatly encouraged by the positive results of this research, which is proven scientifically and is backed by scientific data and statistics.”

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Cheers to good bugs


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