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Heat worsens digestive problems, say dieticians in M’sia

PETALING JAYA — Experts says proper fluid intake is crucial as dehydration will lead to more health complications.

PETALING JAYA — Experts says proper fluid intake is crucial as dehydration will lead to more health complications.

Negri Sembilan Chinese Medical Centre Maternity Hospital dietician Monisha Mohanan Nair said once dehydration sets in, it could lead to heatstroke if not immediately treated.

Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its temperature as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun or physical exertion in high temperatures.

“During heatstroke, the perspiration system shuts down due to insufficient fluid intake and body temperature rises,” she said.

Ms Monisha said the prolonged heatwave would also lead to digestive problems, especially for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

“Dehydration shuts down the bodily system, resulting in imbalances in our gut bacteria. Those without IBS would have more stress-induced bowel irritability including diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion,” she said.

Ms Monisha said dehydration will also cause symptoms of indigestion, an overall bloated and sluggish feeling as well as loss of appetite.

“Muscles that make up our digestive tract need constant hydration to work optimally and dehydration will reduce their efficiency,” she said.

Among her suggestions are to consume two to three litres of water daily, restricting intake of diuretics such as coffee and tea, limiting sweetened beverages and protein intake as well as consuming food with high water content such as vegetables and soups.

“It is not about an entire change of eating habits but it is important to be aware of daily total fluid intake,” she said.

DF Pharmacy Sdn Bhd community dietitian Kenneth Loh Ern-Ken concurred, saying taking care of your fluid and food intake is vital.

“Losing appetite in intense heat is common because when we eat, we look for a conducive environment. Fatigue is also prevalent and this is more severe for cancer patients,” he said.

Mr Loh said those more vulnerable to heatwave-related illnesses should take extra precautions.

“Senior citizens, for example, might have a blunt thirst sense and less efficient kidney.

“So, they need to monitor their fluid intake by drinking from bottles (that has measurement),” he said, adding they should also drink even when they are not thirsty, unless they are on a diet that requires fluid restriction.

Malaysians have been making adjustments to their lifestyles to cope with the heatwave, which is expected to continue until September. MALAY MAIL ONLINE

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