As a long standing IBS sufferer and now a health practitioner specialising in digestive issues I really celebrate the fact that guts and their problems are being highlighted nationally.
However an awareness campaign doesn't scratch the surface of what is required.
April saw in IBS awareness month, and where I expected Social Media and magazines to be awash with articles supporting and advising people with IBS plus a good celebrity "real life sufferer" article, there was nothing.
IBS effects 1 in 5 people in the UK and that's just the diagnosed ones. That doesn't take into account people who just have a bit of digestive discomfort or have the more serious inflammatory conditions. Take those into account and we are now talking about a serious number of people in the UK with gut issues.
Why aren't we talking about it more? Where is the help and support?
Having worked closely with a Senior Gastroenterologist I know the NHS have very little to support IBS and other "functional bowel conditions". There are many other options that really help but we aren't told about them because they don't follow the current protocols. I'm all for creating safety within our health service but I don't see the NHS spending money on researching the alternatives so just saying "nothing else works" isn't a researched statement.
In the therapy I practice we work with the Ileo-Caecal Valve to reduce congestion in the bowel, offer mindfulness techniques and emotional support to avoid "gut reacting" plus find the right digestive aid to support the body in the digestive process. Its very effective as treatments go, but mention this to a GP and it is quickly dismissed.
Another aspect of gut health that needs far more research is around our foods.
Aggressive farming has ruined our food, fact. Check it out for yourselves don't take my word for it.
One of the big issues we have today is modern wheat, which bears no resemblance to the ancient, healthy, indigenous grain. This GMO "frankenfood" is causing high levels of food intolerance and other gut associated issues. Why isn't it being investigated properly? The net is full of people talking about how much better they feel having ditched this grain and yet we are still poo-poo'd by the medical fraternity.
On top of this we have advertising and TV marketing "spiel" to contend with. I see huge fall out from people trying the "Activia" challenge, the webpage of which looks so convincing with the studies they have undertaken. Common sense should prevail when looking at the ingredients and you realise that the sheer quantity of sugar present is going to cause more damage to gut flora than the "good bacteria" in the product. Not to mention the possibility of this bacteria being destroyed in the stomach during the digestive process!
These two are minor examples of what needs to be addressed if we truly want to restore the nations "Gut Health", I'm all for awareness but right now it's not awareness we need, most people it would seem are experiencing gut issues and the pain itself is pretty good at making us aware.
We need the answers.