Busting the myths surrounding gut health – Love Your Gut Week 2020

22nd September 2020

This week is Love Your Gut Week 2020! This year’s focus is on de-bunking gut health myths. Our guts have been underfunded and undervalued for decades, so it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of false, sometimes even dangerous information out there.

It’s important to separate fact from fiction. Having the wrong information is just as bad – or sometimes worse – than having no information at all

Guts UK and Love Your Gut are eager to bust the myths about gut health, so you have correct, evidence and research-based information at your fingertips.

“I should detox my gut”

Liquid-based diets, laxatives or colonic irrigation (unless advised by a medical professional) aren’t necessary. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest any kind of health benefits for this and your body is well-equipped for its own detoxification.

“A gut microbiome/poo test will help me get a diagnosis”

The commercial microbiome, gut bacteria or ‘poo’ tests that are available to buy are not useful for testing the microbiome and then basing a treatment on it. Though they give us useful data for research, we don’t really know if lower levels of certain microbes are bad or good for that person, as there are differences in the microbiota between individuals. We can’t yet use these tests as we do not know enough scientifically at the moment to be confident in the results. Much more research is needed. We therefore do not advise people to use poo tests, any digestive symptoms should be discussed with your GP.

“Bacteria are bad”

There are trillions of bacteria and other micro-organisms that live in our gut, known as the gut microbiota. Some are harmful and cause infection, but the vast majority offer huge benefit to us. They break down fibre that we, otherwise, couldn’t digest. Your gut microbiota protects you against harmful bacteria and supports your immune system too.

“You need to poo once a day”

As a general rule, bowel movements between three times a day and three times a week is classed as ‘normal’. You can think of your bowel movements as ‘normal’ if you have regular bowel movements (not necessarily once a day), don’t have ongoing symptoms of constipation or diarrhoea and can have bowel movements without straining or using laxatives.

“Food intolerance tests will diagnose my gut problem”

Scientists haven’t yet developed suitable tests for diagnosing food intolerances. There is one exception to this – a breath test for lactose intolerance. Despite this, there are a number of companies that claim to offer these tests. Some of the common invalid tests to watch out for include IgG (blood) tests, hair analysis, eye analysis (iridology) and muscle analysis (kinesiology).

This week, please join us and share our fascination with the digestive system, busting gut myths as we go!

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