More than nine out of 10 Galway men would like to deflate their tummies if it were possible, according to a new survey.
The national attitudinal survey about Irish adults’ digestive health was conducted on behalf of Danone Activia.
It found that 94 per cent of local men surveyed were eager to reduce the size of their stomachs.
The study of more than 1,000 people found that women are more than twice as likely as men to be emotionally affected by the effects of digestive discomfort.
However, 61 per cent of the men surveyed thought a bloated stomach was an embarrassing condition. It also revealed that men are much more likely than women to want a flatter tummy.
Eighteen per cent of Galway men believe they do not have enough activities or interests in their lives, according to the research.
Digestive health and associated symptoms of discomfort have a considerable impact on men’s day-to-day lives, with 44 per cent saying that they are low in energy or feel tired, 37 per cent feel bloated, almost 25 per cent are in a bad mood and 10 per cent experience reduced libido.
The survey also found that 30 per cent of Irish men worry about their health as a result of digestive discomfort. Despite this only six per cent said they consult their GP or a health care professional when they are experiencing this problem, which suggests the majority may be suffering in silence.
Jill McCarron, the director of health affairs at Danone says the survey results indicate that although people are suffering from uncomfortable digestive symptoms they may be reluctant to talk about them.
“This is actually a health issue which impacts on people’s emotional and physical wellbeing yet due to the taboo nature of some elements of the issue people seem to be reluctant to consult an expert, preferring instead to find their own solution.
“This summer, we are running a campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of a healthy digestive system. We are encouraging people to consider their own digestive health and take some simple steps on a long-term basis in order to adjust their lifestyle to improve their digestion. People do not need to suffer the symptoms in silence. Simple things, like consuming probiotic yogurt everyday such as Danone Activia, can have a positive impact on your digestive health and overall well-being.”
Consultant dietitian Sarah Keogh says Irish people are not comfortable discussing digestive health.
“As such people don’t realise that something needs attention. People are often shy about asking for help. Yet poor digestive health can really affect the quality of life of many people and can impact on their health and wellbeing. Therefore raising awareness of this issue is very important, and campaigns that promote digestive health awareness have an important role to play in encouraging the general population to look after the health of their digestive system.”
She advises people to keep a food diary for a few weeks to see if any pattern emerges between what they are consuming and when they suffer digestive discomfort.
“People often think of allergies first, but the problem is more likely to be a lack of fibre or not drinking enough fluids. Small changes can make a big difference: a little more fibre, a little more water, probiotics every day - all of these things can help to ensure a healthier digestive system. If you have concerns about your digestive health it is very important that you consult a healthcare professional and get informed advice.”
For tips on how to help reduce your digestive discomfort log on to www.activia.ie
Tips for digestive health
1. Consult an expert. Do not be shy or embarrassed about any queries you may have about your digestion. Contact your GP to ensure that you, and your digestive system, are in good health.
2. Have a balanced diet. Try to choose lower fat foods and natural wholegrains such as wholegrain bread, cereals and pasta which deliver sustained energy over a period of time. The survey showed that more than 90 per cent of those surveyed realised the importance of eating vegetables, which are a great source of fibre as well as other nutrients. More than six in 10 people drink water when they suffer from digestive discomfort, which is correct. It is important to drink plenty of water with a high fibre intake. The more regularly you drink water, the better you’ll feel for it.
3. Make time for regular meals. Your tummy is designed to take modest sized meals at regular intervals so eat three average meals a day and try snacking on fresh or dried fruit. Try to avoid large meals and erratic eating habits. Breakfast is a ‘must’. One in three people polled said they experience digestive discomfort when they change their routine.
4. Take time to eat. If you take time to enjoy your food your tummy will enjoy digesting it, too. Try not to eat at your desk or work station because you will be focusing on your work. Slow down when eating, don’t ‘slurp’ drinks and try not to talk while chewing or you’ll end up swallowing air and your tummy will not like it.
5. Take regular exercise. Regular physical activity is one of the key factors to get fit and stay healthy - try to take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. For more information on physical activity log onto www.getirelandactive.ie
6. Don’t worry, be happy. Your emotions and stress can have an impact on your digestive health .When you choose laughter as a response, your body’s ‘natural pharmacy’ kicks in. It starts to produce a healthy dose of endorphins, which gives you that feel-good factor. Round up a few friends at lunchtime and take time out to relax and enjoy yourself. People feel happier when they have control over their life and nutrition is part of this. So change your cooking oil, eat more fruits and vegetables, every little conscious step gives you more power. Seek out all the good things that already exist in your life.