People should avoid eating too many zongzi (粽子, glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), as consuming several in one meal could cause indigestion, bloating, gastric acid reflux, heartburn and other stomach ailments, a doctor said on Saturday.
Zongzi is a traditional delicacy for the Dragon Boat Festival, which was on Thursday.
Citing a recent case as an example, Cathay General Hospital gastroenterology department head Chu Yu-ming (朱淯銘) said that a 58-year-old taxi driver surnamed Hsiao (蕭) ate meals at irregular hours due to his work and has been taking diabetes medicine for three years.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Hsiao recently bought a bag of zongzi and ate several in one sitting, Chu said.
He later developed bloating, gastric acid reflux and hiccuping, and sought medical help, he said.
Chu said that the glutinous rice in zongzi cannot be easily digested, while other ingredients and their preparation methods lead to high levels of fat and salt, and low dietary fiber.
He advised people not to eat too many zongzi, as the slowdown of digestion would lead to gas buildup and other discomfort, which would exacerbate conditions such as diabetes.
When people consume excessive amounts of food that is high in fat, but has little dietary fiber, the gas buildup would cause bloating and discomfort in the stomach, he added.
People with diabetes should get the disease under control, and take medication to improve stomach and bowel movement, and reduce bloating, Chu said.
They should consume soft foods with low fat, cut the food into small pieces and chew thoroughly to reduce the burden on the stomach, he said.
“It is best to go with vegetable dishes to increase fiber content, which can soothe the greasy after-taste palate, and mitigate the load on the digestive tract, and also hold back the blood-sugar level,” he said.
Indigestion and bloating can have other causes that might be difficult for doctors to diagnose, including irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial growth in the small intestine, and carbohydrate or galactose intolerance, which can lead to constipation and diarrhea, he added.
Chu advised people to avoid food that is likely to cause bloating, such as lentils and legumes, milk, yams, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and high-fat foods, and to seek medical treatment if the condition does not improve.
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