The pandemic did not just leave us a tad more knowledgeable about the joys of Dalgona coffee and banana bread, but also forced us to take a good, hard look at the way we have been leading our lives. Mental health might have emerged as one of the biggest conversations in recent times, but the importance of listening to one’s body and practicing overall wellness is another important conversation that is, thankfully, ongoing.
Connecting these two essential aspects of our life is gut health. Poor gut health has been associated with constipation, bloating, trouble sleeping, headache, fatigue, chronic diarrhoea, and heartburn, among many other problems. So when Payal Kothari, integrative nutritionist, and gut health coach, says that the gut is the most incredibly complex, sophisticated, and brilliant organ of your body, there’s science to back it up.
But why does this piece talk about gut health ‘for men’? Well, because, while gut health symptoms and treatments remain pretty much the same for men and women, there are a few ailments that seem to be on the rise for men. We’re not saying that experts are. Fitness and nutritional scientist Siddhant Bhargava has observed that a number of men are chronically constipated. “An average Indian man under the age of 50 needs to consume at least 35 gm of fiber per day, but most men end up consuming only about 15-20 gms,” he says.
Kothari lists two important issues her male patients come up with: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and experiencing a low libido. Getting them to share their concerns is an issue, but a bigger task is when she asks them about their sex life. “Men these days are facing low libido due to a leaky gut. When I ask my patients about their sex life, I have to explain to them that it’s a clinical question and not a question mark on their masculinity,” she adds.
The good news is that these issues can be dealt with by making some significant changes to your lifestyle — including your dietary and exercise habits.
Probiotic is a term that most of us have become familiar with. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with commercials trying to sell us the benefits of kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sourdough bread, and sauerkraut, among others. However, it’s the prebiotics that nobody seems to be talking about. “The probiotics are the icing on the cake. It does not matter how much kefir and kombucha you consume — if your prebiotics are not in place, this is all just a waste of money,” explains Kothari.
The market is flooded with supplements that aid gut health, and experts believe there is no harm trying them if home remedies are not helping much. Says Gaurav Aggarwal, founder of Onelife Nutriscience Pvt Ltd, “Additional supplements do help at a certain level if consumed in proper dosage. Wellness comes from all spheres and not just supplements, but of course they aid to a great extent in solving digestive issues and gastrointestinal problems that arise due to excessive eating habits while working from home.” Their product GutPro Activ, says Aggarwal, has ingredients in the formulation that support digestive health, immunity and healthy skin.
WOW Life Science has come up with Probiotics capsules that are a blend of 14 gut-friendly bacteria strains that help promote digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption in the gut. In addition, they also have a Body Cleanse supplement, which is a blend of herbal laxatives and antioxidants that cleans the colon and detoxifies the gut.
And as far as the ‘beer is good for gut health’ study is concerned, nutritionist Neha Sahaya breaks it down, “Small amounts might have some health benefits, but it’s not recommended, as the effects of binge-drinking are negative. Also, let’s not forget that beer contains empty calories, and can lead to weight gain or obesity. Another thing to keep in mind is the way that the beer is brewed can increase or decrease its side effects. Sticking to the conventional ways of improving gut health is better, as in the case of beer, the negatives outweigh the positives.” There, bubble burst.