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World Digestive Health Day: A Healthy Gut

CDHF

Written by: CDHF

Updated: May 31st, 2023

Every May 29th, the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) initiates a yearlong, worldwide, public health campaign with focus on a particular digestive disease and/or disorder in order to increase general public awareness of prevention, prevalence, diagnosis, management and treatment of the disease/and or disorder. The theme for World Digestive Health Day 2023 is titled: Your Digestive Health: A Healthy Gut from the Start.

The aim of the World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) 2023 campaign is to discuss the normal functions of the digestive tract and ways to keep it healthy, with a focus on healthy eating from infancy through adulthood. The WGO goal is to promote a healthy gut for life going forward rather than focusing on diseases and looking for their causes. In diet, the focus will be on the need for adequate protein, promoting fibre, and limiting sugary food and drinks.

All month long, CDHF will be helping raising awareness of the importance of a healthy GI tract with simple information for adults and children that includes the below. Below we go through each of the main goals of the campaign, and the information you need to feel empowered to create a healthy gut! After all, CDHF always says a happy gut = a healthier, happier you!

world digestive health day social image

1. The Normal Function of the GI Tract

When working well, the digestive system breaks down the food we eat into nutrients the body can absorb. In humans, proteins are broken down into amino acids, starches into simple sugars, and fats into fatty acids and other small molecules. The bloodstream distributes these nutrients to the rest of the body, and waste products are passed out as feces. Depending on what you’ve eaten, it can take anywhere from several hours to several days to fully digest food.

The main functions include:

2. How Diet Affects one’s Daily Life and it’s Importance to Health

A Healthy Gut for Children

Why is healthy eating important for children? Because nutrition is a critical aspect of children’s health and wellbeing. Good nutrition provides children with the energy and nutrients they need to:

Building a Healthy and Balanced Diet for Children

A healthy and balanced diet is necessary to ensure children receive all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to support their growth and development.

Parents and caregivers play a critical role in promoting healthy eating habits in children. They can help children develop a taste for healthy foods by offering a variety of nutrient-rich foods and limiting processed, high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods. It’s also important to encourage children to eat a variety of foods from all the different food groups to build a healthy diet.

What’s on Your Child’s Plate?

We suggest filling half the plate with colourful fruits and veggies, and splitting the other half between whole grains and healthy proteins4. Other key tips:

Adapting to Their Age

It’s important to note that a healthy and balanced diet is not a one size fits all approach. Dietary requirements change drastically as a child ages, for both sources of nutrition and portion sizes.

Toddlers

Your once bottle-obsessed infant has become a picky toddler? Introduce them to a wide variety of healthy food options during this low-appetite period, which is more important than making sure they finish every plate of food.

Adolescents

Your adolescent child on the other hand may seem like a bottomless pit. This is because from 13 to 18 years old, children undergo a massive development period of bone, muscle, organ, and even blood volume growth5. While we previously mentioned obesity as a risk factor for many illnesses, during this growth phase it’s important not to underfeed your child because you’re worried about their weight. Ensure they’re eating sufficient amounts of healthy foods from across the food groups to meet their increased energy demands, and to help them grow.

A Healthy Gut for Adults

Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is important for the health and function of all cells. Eating for gut health includes getting enough of the below in your diet.

Fibre

Fibre is a carbohydrate that is only found in plant-foods and that the body can’t digest. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Fibre is the fuel colon cells use to keep themselves healthy. Fibre also keeps the digestive tract flowing, keeping your bowel movements soft and regular.

Sources: Soluble can be found in barley, oats, nuts, and chia seeds. Insoluble can be found in whole grains, corn, green beans, and fruits with skin.

Vegetables and Fruits:

Complex Carbohydrates

Healthy Fats

Lean Protein & Plant Protein vs. Fatty Protein

Herbs and Spices

Hydrating with Water

Foods to Limit

3. Develop educational and training materials based on the latest recommendations for healthy eating

How to get the Nutrition you Need if you’re Lactose Intolerant

f you have lactose intolerance, obviously you’d rather avoid living with symptoms like belly cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. But if you simply stop eating all dairy foods, there’s a good chance you won’t be getting enough some nutrients that are important for maintaining strong bones and good overall health. Learn what you may be missing out on, and how to get the nutrition you need if you’re lactose intolerant.

family eating for nutrition

Is Lactose-free the same as Dairy-free?

Navigating the grocery aisles can be especially confusing if you’ve recently been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, or another condition that’s managed by avoiding certain ingredients and/or foods. For people who have recently discovered that they have this digestive issue, a common question is whether lactose-free and dairy-free mean the same thing.

The short answer is no, but of course it’s more complicated than that. Here’s what you need to know.

Nutrition Guide for Athletes

Sports nutrition and nutritional strategies have evolved over the years and often follow a “one size fits all” kind of approach. However, research suggests that a tailored approach to individual athlete’s needs, and specific sports is more optimal. Read all about sports nutrition in our guide for athletes.

hockey face-off

Share CDHF’s resources this month with the hashtag #WDHD2023

External Links


References

  1. Nyaradi, A., Li, J., Hickling, S., Foster, J., & Oddy, W. (2013). The role of nutrition in children’s neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(97), 97. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00097/full
  2. Reilly, J. J. (2005). Descriptive epidemiology and health consequences of childhood obesity. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 19(3), 327-341. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1521690X05000345
  3. Childs, C. E., Calder, P. C., & Miles, E. A. (2019). Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients, 11(8), 1933. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/
  4. Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. (2023). The Nutrition Source – Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/kids-healthy-eating-plate/
  5. Corkins, M. R., Daniels, S. R., de Ferranti, S. D., Golden, N. H, Kim, J. H., et al. (2016). Nutrition in Children and Adolescents. Medical Clinics of North America, 100(6), 1217-1235. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025712516372960?via%3Dihub
  6. Government of Canada. (2022). Canada’s food guide – Healthy eating for parents and children. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/parents-and-children/
  7. Markowiak, P. & Slizewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622781/

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