I have recently had to visit hospital with my dad for a check up following his hip replacement last year. He’s now been successfully discharged which, of course, is excellent news, and I am grateful to our National Health Service for its role in making him more comfortable and more mobile in his later life.
Whilst our NHS is fantastic at fixing broken limbs, and performing surgeries and mopping up bits and bobs after physical trauma, when it comes to gut health, I’m afraid it’s bringing up the rear.
All too often I’m told by a client some story or another about what advice they’ve been given by their GP (now mostly over the phone too) about how to manage their digestive problems, or worse, that there is no hope for them and they will just “have to learn to live with it”.
So I’d just like to dispel a few myths for you, if I may:
“Once a week is part of your natural rhythm”
If you have been to the doctor about your irregular bowels because you’re having one poop every three days or once a week for as long as you can remember, and you’ve been told that it’s nothing to worry about, or that it’s just part of your natural rhythm – this is rubbish and you are being mislead. You must relieve your body of wastes at least once a day. If you’re not, you’re heading for a chronic health problem. Invest time in getting to the bottom of the issue. It will unlikely resolve itself without some kind of intervention. Colon hydrotherapy is a great place to start for constipation relief.
“If you are constipated, just eat more fibre”
NO! This is like adding leaves to an already blocked drain. If you’ve insufficient gut bacteria, your body will never breakdown the fibre and move it through your gut. You’ll just get even more constipated and bloated. You’d be better off backing off your digestion for a few days by having more fluid foods like soups, broths and stews, drinking lots and lots of fresh water and adding in some pre and probiotics. Then, when things are moving again, you can begin to introduce more fibre.
“You have IBS. You just have to live with it”
OMG.. this drives me nuts. No you don’t. There is always an origin story to IBS. It could be stress, unresolved trauma, anxiety or severe dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), caused by foreign travel that resulted in bad diarrhoea and sickness. Also a single course of antibiotics can be all it takes to upset the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut. And if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been prescribed multiple courses for recurring infections, your digestive function and immune system will likely be severely compromised. We just need to determine where the gut health wheel came off, put it back on and get it balanced. It can often be the case that your symptoms have appeared several years after the catalytic event, so don’t be fooled by the “nothing has changed in my life recently” thing.
Have you been mis-sold PPI?
No I’m not talking about insurance, but the relentless prescribing of proton pump inhibitors like Omeprazole or Lansoprazole for conditions like acid reflux. Some people are on these drugs for years, but if you do a search on Google, you’ll find they are only recommended for shorter periods of time. Studies have proven that prolonged use of these medications alter the delicate balance of bacteria in the intestines, which lead to far greater health problems. A high percentage of acid reflux cases can be resolved by dietary and lifestyle changes. Actions like reducing (or better still, eliminating) wheat and gluten from the diet, and not eating after 7pm in the evening will make a huge difference. Just try it for a week and notice how you feel. If you have concerns about your medication, discuss it with your GP.
A Reality Check:
Please don’t hear the wrong thing here. There is a place for prescription drugs in our lives, but what I cannot subscribe to is the dependency culture that the NHS promotes by handing out prescriptions instead of guidance. It is disempowering to the individual and ironically, causes a greater drain on the NHS’s resources further along the line because drugs don’t heal, they just mask symptoms, and acute conditions which could easily be resolved, become chronic health problems.
I’m afraid that the system as we know is now so overwhelmed that the cracks are becoming visible and it is scary. It’s a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes and at some point we need to admit that his ‘dingle dangle’ is actually on show so that we can stop perpetuating the charade.
Please take some time to check in with yourself and your beliefs about where the responsibility lies for your health and wellbeing. There is a wealth of useful and relevant information available to you on the internet, and literally thousands of well informed complementary therapists who specialise in gut health, so keep asking questions and do your own research. The times are a-changing and we need to be one step ahead of the game if we want to stay well and live long and healthy lives.
If you’ve not read it already, why not get your hands on a copy of my International best-selling book Let That Sh*t Go – 31 Things to Do if you Want a Better Poo!
Or if you’re seeking more natural and holistic methods of managing your health, can I recommend The People’s Health Alliance; an organic, people-led, integrated health initiative that aims to educate, support and empower people to take responsibility for their own health.