Feed your gut the right way

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Higher Education - For de­tails, visit www.imu.edu.my or email start@imu.edu.my or call 03–2731 7272.

THE Covid-19 pan­demic has drawn at­ten­tion to the ba­sics of de­vel­op­ing im­mu­nity through good nu­tri­tion and mak­ing the right food choices. Pro­tein, some types of fat, min­er­als, vi­ta­mins, pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics all have a ma­jor role to play in im­prov­ing im­mu­nity.

So, how do we gen­er­ate new knowl­edge in this area? Is there a re­la­tion­ship be­tween nu­tri­tion and im­mu­nity? Is im­mu­nity com­pro­mised only in sick in­di­vid­u­als? Or is it ob­served among other groups of pop­u­la­tions too? To an­swer these ques­tions, Seah Sheng Hong (Shawn), Audrey Meno Cleo and Chen Wei Mun, un­der­grad­u­ate BSc (Hons) in Nu­tri­tion stu­dents at In­ter­na­tional Med­i­cal Univer­sity (IMU) un­der­took a re­search project on ath­letes.

They stud­ied the ef­fect of pro­bi­otics and omega-3, or fatty acids de­rived from fish, on ath­letes un­der­go­ing rig­or­ous train­ing. Seah says, “I learnt about the im­por­tance of pre­bi­otic and pro­bi­otics for gut health con­tribut­ing to a strong im­mune sys­tem in lec­tures. But these con­cepts came alive when we did the re­search.”

Dr Sangeetha Shyam, Dr Me­gan Chong and Dr Tan Seok Shin from IMU and Dr Ma­hen­deran Ap­pukutty, a Sport Sci­ence col­lab­o­ra­tor from Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara (UiTM), were the team who de­signed this study. They were in­ter­ested to see if tak­ing a spe­cific strain of pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ment de­creased the num­ber of colds and stom­ach up­sets that the ath­letes had in a week.

Dr Sangeetha says, “The pro­bi­otics are small or­gan­isms that do big work. Once they reach your colon, they, along with some of the chem­i­cals that they pro­duce, re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, com­mu­ni­cate with your im­mune sys­tem and im­prove it. Con­sum­ing fish oil can the­o­ret­i­cally im­prove the way the pro­bi­otics stick to your colon and flour­ish and be more ef­fec­tive. So, your gut does more than just ab­sorb and di­gest your food.”

Dr Chong adds, “The im­prove­ment in im­mu­nity can be mea­sured by the num­ber of im­mune cells you have in a blood test or even the pro­teins in your saliva. Prac­ti­cally, we can see if they fall sick less as the coaches would like to see them at­tend all their prac­tice ses­sions. The ath­letes will be re­warded with im­proved per­for­mance.”

IMU Nu­tri­tion stu­dents are trained to ap­pre­ci­ate the multi-faceted role of nu­tri­ents. This knowl­edge con­trib­utes to the de­vel­op­ment of rec­om­mended nu­tri­ent in­takes (RNI) for pop­u­la­tions in a spe­cific coun­try.

The RNI is like a pre­scrip­tion of the amount of en­ergy and dif­fer­ent nu­tri­ents that you should eat to suit your age, gen­der and life­style. As nutri­tion­ists, they plan sim­ple bal­anced meals that can help to achieve the de­sired nu­tri­ents within a client’s bud­get, taste pref­er­ence and cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity.

The three-year Nu­tri­tion pro­gramme at IMU equips stu­dents to pur­sue ca­reers in var­i­ous fields in­clud­ing in­dus­try, ed­u­ca­tion, health pro­mo­tion, re­search and jour­nal­ism. The cur­ricu­lum ac­cords strong em­pha­sis not only on core nu­tri­tion mod­ules, but also on key pro­fes­sion-sup­port­ing mod­ules such as nutritiona­l sta­tus as­sess­ment, diet-re­lated non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion of pro­grammes, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mar­ket­ing man­age­ment.

IMU’s Nu­tri­tion pro­gramme gives stu­dents a rig­or­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in re­search method­ol­ogy and ap­pli­ca­tion for each stage of the re­search process and data man­age­ment. Stu­dents will get to show­case their com­pleted re­search in sci­en­tific con­fer­ences and jour­nals. For this pro­gramme, IMU has col­lab­o­rated with Deakin Univer­sity, Aus­tralia so that nu­tri­tion stu­dents can pur­sue the first two years of their de­gree at IMU and then trans­fer to Deakin Univer­sity to com­plete their de­gree.

Upon com­ple­tion of the de­gree, stu­dents will then re­ceive a Bach­e­lor of Nu­tri­tion Sci­ence from Deakin Univer­sity, one of Aus­tralia’s largest univer­si­ties with strong global link­ages and world-class re­search.

Each year, the Nu­tri­tion pro­gramme will com­mence in July and Septem­ber. Make an on­line ap­pli­ca­tion to­day and be­gin a ca­reer that chal­lenges you to open new doors.

If you have just com­pleted your SPM and do not have pre-univer­sity qual­i­fi­ca­tion, con­sider en­rolling in the one-year IMU Foun­da­tion in Sci­ence, the di­rect route for en­try into any of the univer­sity’s de­gree pro­grammes, in­clud­ing credit trans­fer op­tions.

The three-year nu­tri­tion pro­gramme at IMu equips stu­dents for ca­reers in var­i­ous fields.

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