Gut Health issues are becoming increasingly common and yet are still a bit of an embarrassing problem that we try to avoid talking about. Let’s face it, no-one really wants to open up about our toilet issues, or the fact that everything, from eating out to going out can be restricted when we have ‘our gut issues’.
I have suffered with Colitis for years. I have flare ups, so most of the time now I feel perfectly fine, but every once in a while, something – something I’ve eaten, illness, stress, literally anything, can trigger and attack and I can find myself attached to the toilet, afraid to go out in case I get took short, and literally feel my life is blighted. I tend to know which sort of foods to avoid – I so love cheese but it certainly doesn’t love me, but even avoiding these, I can find myself quite powerless once an attack takes hold.
I am certainly not alone, Mintel.com conducted studies in 2016 which suggested that:
Overall, almost nine in 10 (88%) women have experienced some kind of GI (gastro-intestinal) ailment in the last year compared to 83% of men. Overall the nation’s top three tummy issues include: wind, bloating or flatulence (62%), followed by indigestion (53%) and diarrhoea (50%).
VSL#3 have been looking at all factors pertaining to gut health and have some really interesting conclusions on their pages. One of their main findings is that we can really aid an healthy gut microbiota by making our diet diverse when it comes to plant based foods. This doesn’t mean you have to become a vegan overnight, instead, they explain you need to let
minimally processed fruit, veggies, peas, beans and lentils and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and starchy wholegrain carbohydrates, like wholewheat pasta, granary bread, brown rice and whole oats take centre stage in our diet, as they’re brimming with fibre, prebiotics and plant compounds called polyphenols that help keep our gut and its microbes healthy and well nourished.
But our gut health is not solely controlled by our diet. A good pattern of sleep, with a clear routine of good sleep rather than restless can also help to keep our gut balance. Adults should still be aiming for at least 7 hours per night. Avoiding and managing stress is also key, as is avoiding too many prescription antibiotics. Exercise is also important, particularly when teamed with the healthy diet as this can also help you to avoid obesity which can obviously have many more health implications. Gut health can also have an impact on your sexual health, with issues ranging from low sex drive to erectile dysfunction, so it is certainly not something that should be ignored.
If you do suspect gut health issues, you should contact your GP immediately to talk about your issues and discuss possible treatments.