On 12 April 2018, the Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) launched the Probiotics Education Programme in Petaling Jaya with the support of Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd (Vitagen) and Yakult (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

One of the programme’s goals is to empower the public in order to help them gain a better understanding of probiotics and how it can benefit their digestive health while at the same time, clearing up any misconceptions about what constitutes a probiotic product.

Statistics from the Health facts 2017 by the Ministry of Health

During the launch, NSM shared data and information on how many Malaysians suffer from common digestive problems or diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea, constipation and bloating. While these digestive-related conditions may not always be life-threatening, having to deal with them on a regular basis would affect one’s quality of life.

• Diseases of the digestive system were recorded as the:
  1. Fourth principal cause of hospitalisation in private hospitals
  2. Seventh principal cause of hospitalisation in government hospitals.
  3. Sixth principal cause of death in both government and private hospitals

• Colon cancer is the third most common cancer among men and second most common among women worldwide.

• In Malaysia, colon cancer is the most common cancer among men and second most common among women.

“These statistics and the sheer number of people who suffer from these common digestive problems are worrying, as they indicate that Malaysians are not taking their digestive health seriously,” said President of NSM, Tee E Siong, PhD.

Emphasizing the benefits of probiotics

Media dialogue with the Probiotics Education Programme Expert Group.
Media dialogue with the Probiotics Education Programme Expert Group.

“A balanced gut microbiota is crucial to help us maintain a healthy gut, which in turn can bring about efficient digestive functions and strengthening of the immune system. These are important factors in maintaining our overall health. Lifestyle and dietary factors play an important role in keeping our gut microbiota balanced. One specific dietary factor is probiotics, which may help to keep our gut microbiota balanced while maintaining its integrity and diversity,” shared Tee.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are live microorganisms which have been proven in controlled human studies to provide health benefits to the human body when consumed in adequate amounts.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) recently gazetted a regulation on probiotics for Malaysia in April 2017.

“This food law spells out the requirements for a product to be labelled as “probiotics”, the product must contain a bacterial strain that is permitted in the regulation and must have a minimum number of viable/life probiotic cultures,” said Tee.

Educating the public

Dr Tee E Siong unveiled the signature Probiotics Education Programme publication, accompanied by Mr Poh Eng Lip and Mr Hiroshi Hamada.
Dr Tee E Siong unveiled the signature Probiotics Education Programme publication, accompanied by Mr Poh Eng Lip and Mr Hiroshi Hamada.

The launch also saw the unveiling of the booklet “Probiotics: The Friendly Gut Bacteria for Your Health”, arranged in a consumer-friendly way for the public to understand the information on good gut health and probiotics.

Infographic posters for adults and children will be made available for public viewing at selected clinics and schools. These posters on gut health and probiotics are presented with a catchy, visual style, and can also be viewed on the NSM website and social media platforms. MIMS

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Read more:
7 probiotic foods for a healthier gut
Gut bacteria implicated in a spectrum of important neurological pathologies
Gut flora in infants may impact predisposition to asthma, allergies and other illnesses

Sources:
Press release by VersaComm Sdn Bhd, secretariat for NSM Probiotics Education Programme