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Gut Health Myths

Dr. Mujahid Israr

3 min read

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Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut. Your gastrointestinal health can directly impact other aspects of health. The colonies of bacteria in your intestine do not just aid in digestion; they impacts all aspects of your biology and physiology. The microbiome boosts your immune system and regulates your metabolism and weight. The communication between gut microbes and your brain may also affect your cognitive function and mental health. Restoring microbiomes may become the standard of care in the future. Because of its importance, gut health has been talked about a lot in recently and it has caused some confusion. Following are some myths about gut health that are pure fiction:

1- Bacteria Is Your Enemy

It is engrained in our minds that bacteria are all disease-causing pathogens. However, your body also has friendly bacteria collectively termed, the microbiome that is present on your skin, and in your urogenital and gastrointestinal tracts. The gut bacteria break down food, regulate your metabolism, and protect you from infections.

2- Detoxes Can Clean the Gut

Detoxes have been touted as a ‘quick fix’ solution. However, we do not need specialty detox products to cleanse our system since we were born with a natural detoxifying organ which is the liver. There is no evidence upholding the claims made by the proponents of the detox diet and no evidence suggests that detox diets are good for gut health.

3- A Gluten-Free Diet Can Help Various Health Issues

People suffering from coeliac disease are treated by avoiding gluten. Now, even gluten-tolerant people are avoiding gluten as it has been demonized in recent times. People have started self-diagnosing themselves with gluten intolerance and have reported improvement in health. However, eliminating gluten from your diet without a proper diagnosis can make you miss out on essential nutrients.

4- Increased Fiber Intake Is Good For Your Health

Fiber is definitely crucial for good health but you should try not to surpass the recommended daily limit of 30g. Be sure to injest an array of different types of fiber by varying the food sources to improve gut health.

5- Cutting out food groups is the answer

In the past few years, fancy diets have been in fashion that exclude whole food groups like dairy and gluten, and these diets are unsuitable for most people unless they are diagnosed with lactose intolerance or coeliac disease. Gut health experts say that gut microbes can be affected by cutting out any food groups. This can cause a decrease in the gut microbe diversity. Moreover, it can cause nutritional deficiencies.

6- You must chew 20 times before swallowing

As digestion starts in the mouth, it is important to properly chew food in there in order to lower the chances of choking, and to help with optimal digestion. Nonetheless, no scientific number exists that could tell us about how many times food needs to be chewed. This number can change in extreme ways, depending on what type of food is being consumed. For instance, the jaw needs to move more in order to chew a steak, as compared to a banana, which required less work as it ends up as mush.

Chewing aids in slowing down the process of eating and this might be a good help for digestion. It also allows enough time for the eater to know when they are full. The stomach and intestine will go through all the vascular motions and mechanical digestion regardless of how many times food is chewed, be it 5 times or 20. This does not mean that food should not be chewed properly, it should be chewed thoroughly but one does not have to chew for an exact number of times.

7- Cooked food is easier on the stomach

The fibers within the grains and the vegetables are broken down when food is cooked, and this makes it easier for the stomach to digest. Certain nutrients such as water-soluble nutrients, vitamin C and the B vitamins can get diminished due to overcooking of food.

For most people, cooked and raw food should easily be broken down as part of the ordinary digestion process.

8- Beans are the most gas inducing food

Beans have a high fiber content, as well as starches named oligosaccharides which are fermented by gut bacteria due to their poor digestion. The production of intestinal gas is the side effect of this fermentation. Nonetheless, these carbohydrate molecules are found in food groups other than beans as well.

Other foods comprising of raw garlic and onion could be distressing for some people. For others, lentils and wheat-based products such as bread can be an issue. The sweetener sorbitol, found in chewing gum, and xylitol, found in protein bars, can be triggering for some people.

If you feel that your gut health is compromised, you should consult a gastroenterologist. You can find and book an appointment with top gastroenterologists in Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Mujahid Israr - Author Assist. Prof. Dr. Mujahid Israr is a Internal Medicine Specialist practicing in Lahore. Assist. Prof. Dr. Mujahid Israr has the following degrees: MBBS, FCPS (Medicine), MACG (USA), FCPS (Gastroenterology) and has 13 years of experience.
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