Gut tips!

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

To help improve your ‘gut flora’ we have come up with three tips and three foods to start you on your way…

1. Eat a fibre–rich, whole foods diet—it should be rich in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, all of which can help feed the ‘good bacteria’.

2. Limit sugar, processed foods, animal fats, and animal protein—these can provide food for the ‘bad bacteria’.

3. Eat fermented foods daily—these foods contain ‘good bacteria’.

Foods to try…
1. Yogurt
Try eating fermented and cultured foods daily to increase your ‘good gut bacteria’. As well as containing lots of live cultures, which are thought to offer numerous health benefits, these types of food can also provide a good source of protein and calcium.
Granola pots with strawberry compote and yogurt

2. Asparagus
Asparagus is a good source of natural prebiotic fibre known as inulin. Asparagus is also know for being a good diuretic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Grill it, boil it, bake it… cook it in any way you want.

Aparagus and poached egg

3. Artichokes
Artichockes are also a good source of fibre, containing the prebiotic inulin. They are also a great source of magnesium, potassium and vitamins C.

Gut Week 2014

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Raising public health awareness of gut health!

Gut week is nearly upon us and this year we are excited to have teamed up with Sam Faiers (recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease).

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation to the lining of the digestive tract. While it can occur in any part of the digestive system, it is more commonly found in the small or large intestines. Symptoms can include: diarrhoea, abdominal pain, blood and mucus in the stools, fatigue and weight loss.

Gut Week provides a great opportunity to raise public health awareness of gastrointestinal health and the issues surrounding our guts! So get involved and order your Gut Week pack today!

To keep up-to-date with all the coverage from this year’s gut week visit: While you are there, why not check out all the different recipes and even play one of the games!

Woman holding heart shaped balloon



Constipated? Well get moving!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

With the World Cup, Wimbledon and Tour de France being key topics in the UK over the last few weeks, exercise and the different ways in which to get fit have been highlighted more than ever!

However, what is the impact of exercise on our guts? At relatively low levels, repetitive exercise may have protective effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Some evidence suggests that exercise may even reduce the risk of constipation, diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease and gallstones, as well as offering protective benefits for colon cancer.

Our digestive tracts have a high muscle content, and like other muscles in the body, these are stimulated by exercise. Exercise along with a healthy fibrous diet may help with constipation as it will help to stimulate the natural contraction of the intestinal muscles, therefore ensuring the stool moves more efficiently through the digestive tract.

Various studies have shown those who are more active to have a better defecation pattern (less firm stools, more frequent defecation, higher stool weight) compared to inactive controls.

However, spare a thought for endurance athletes who can experience all number of gastrointestinal issues as a result of their sport, including; nausea, heartburn and diarrhoea.


Today is World Digestive Health Day!

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Every year on 29th May, World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) celebrates World Digestive Health Day (WDHD). Each year this public health awareness campaign focuses on a particular digestive disorder in order to increase general public health awareness of prevention and therapy.  This year the focus is ‘GUT MICROBES – Importance in Health and Disease’.

Extracts from Professor Francisco Guarner, MD, the Chair of World Digestive Health Day 2014 have been included below:

‘Our knowledge of the microbial communities that inhabit the human gut has grown exponentially over the last few years… Gut Microbes function like an organ within the gastrointestinal tract…

The human host provides a habitat and nutrition to a large and diverse ecosystem of microbial communities and they play key roles in digestion, metabolism and immune function and have a significant impact beyond the gastrointestinal tract. Changes in the diversity and function of those communities are associated with far reaching consequences on host health and have been linked with a number of disorders, including functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases and other immune mediated diseases (coeliac disease, allergies), metabolic conditions (type 2 diabetes, NASH), and perhaps, behavioral disorders such as autism and depression. The emerging data on the microbiota and its interaction with the host may provide novel diagnostic and prognostic tests for clinician, and also lead to the development of new and effective therapeutic interventions (functional foods, probiotics, prebiotics, microbiota transplants) to relieve symptoms, as well as treat and prevent illness.

The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) seeks to raise awareness of this novel organ…’

For further details visit:




Spinal cord injury and the bowel

Friday, May 16th, 2014

As it is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, we thought we would highlight this infrequently talked about area, and the implications such injuries can have on the bowel.

Within the UK it is estimated that there are 400,000 people living with a spinal cord injury (SPI). With stating that on average one person is paralysed every 8 hours (~1,200 people every year). A SPI can occur at any point and to anyone, through accidents such as road traffic or sporting, or by gradual decline from illness. A number of issues can occur to these individuals, one of which is bowel dysfunction. And with very few SPI patients actually fully recovering (1%), this can result in lifelong issues.

Bowel function is maintained by the nerves entering the spinal cord. It is the nerves which enter at the lower part of the spine which are responsible for the voluntary communication of the bowel. The messages which are communicated between the bowel, spinal cord and brain control the muscles in the bowel and lower down in the rectum. Following a SPI, damage to the spinal cord may result in the loss of the ability to control the bowel reflex. Any SPI will therefore normally have an impact on defecation.


There are a number of complications which can occur in the bowel following injury:

(The below had been taken from

Autonomic Dysreflexia

Autonomic Dysreflexia, sometimes called hyperreflexia, can occur in those with a spinal cord injury at or above the T6 level. Autonomic Dysreflexia occurs when there is an irritation, pain, or stimulus to the nervous system below the level of injury. The irritated area sends a signal to the brain but it is not able to reach the brain. A reflex action takes place, tightening blood vessels, causing the blood pressure to rise. If the high blood pressure is not controlled it may cause a stroke, seizure, or death.

Common Signs or Symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia are:

  •    High blood pressure.
  •    Seeing spots or blurred visions.
  •    Pounding headache.
  •    Nasal congestion.
  •    Flushed face.
  •    Red blotching on the neck and chest.
  •    Sweating above level of injury.
  •    Goose bumps.
  •    Cool, clammy skin.
  •    Nausea.

Check Bowel to see if there is sign of constipation or impaction? This can stretch the bowel. Is there stool in the rectum? Apply numbing medication (xylocaine jelly) and wait 5 minutes. Remove stool gently. Keep stool as soft as possible.


Constipation is one of the most common digestive disorders. It’s symptoms vary greatly between different people, as each person’s bowel movements differ. The rate of defecation is not in itself a problem, as infrequent defecation without problems is not abnormal. In common constipation, the stool is hard and difficult to pass. Straining to pass stool may cause haemorrhoids and anal fissures. In later stages of constipation, the abdomen may become distended and diffusely tender and crampy, occasionally with enhanced bowel sounds.

Signs of Constipation:

  •    Hard, loose or watery stools.
  •    Irregular bowel movements.
  •    No bowel movement in several bowel routines.
  •    Swollen or hard stomach.
  •    Lack of appetite.


  •    Not drinking enough fluids.
  •    Not maintaining a scheduled bowel program.
  •    Not eating a diet with plenty of fibre.
  •    Lack of activity.
  •    Some medications: Narcotics, iron, and certain anti-acids.

Possible Remedies:

  •    Eat more fibre
  •    Drink more fluids
  •    Change diet to include more vegetables and fruit
  •    Avoid constipating foods such as diets heavy in cheese, bananas, meat etc.
  •    Check medication guidelines for side effects of constipation
  •    Increase bowel routines, reduce time/days between bowel programs

Laxatives should only be used as a last resort, as they will most probably cause bowel accidents, especially in those with flaccid bowels.


A faecal impaction is a large mass of dry, hard stool that develops in the rectum due to chronic constipation. This mass may be so hard that it cannot come out of the body. Watery stool from higher in the bowel may move around the mass and leak out, causing soiling.

To remove the stool, a gloved, lubricated finger should be used to gently remove the impacted stool from the rectum. If unsuccessful, a doctor should be contacted.


Haemorrhoids are veins in your rectum and anus that become enlarged (swollen). This can be caused by hard, constipated stools, and straining or pressure when having bowel movements. To prevent haemorrhoids, drink plenty of fluids and stay active. Sitting on a gel or air cushion can keep your haemorrhoids from getting larger and also can help prevent bed sores. Tell caregivers about your haemorrhoids. They may order medicines or suggest other ways to treat them.

Rectal Bleeding

Blood in your stools can be caused by several things. Doing digital stimulation too roughly can injure your rectum and cause bleeding. Make sure you perform digital stimulation carefully and use enough lubricating jelly. Make sure your fingernails are short. Haemorrhoids may bleed when stools move past them. Use more lubricating jelly if your haemorrhoids are swollen. Avoid straining when having bowel movements. Using stool softener medicine, drinking enough water, and eating a high-fiber diet can help prevent rectal bleeding.

For further information please visit (where extracts for this article were taken from):



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