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LET’S TALK ABOUT THE GUTS OF THE ISSUE

Following a surge in the number of Australians seeking expert help for gut-related problems, earlier this year Dietitian Connection, the voice of more than 8,500 of the country’s dietitians, launched a new health campaign designed to get people to speak up about a subject most find it hard to discuss.

Renowned dietitian, nutrition scientist and author, Dr Joanna McMillan, is spearheading National Gut Health Month, a new and month-long health initiative aimed at heightening awareness of the importance of talking about gut health and bowel movements.

Research has revealed more than half the nation experiences poor gut health symptoms including bloating, gas, and constipation, with one in seven suffering distress.

According to Dr McMillan, there’s a huge stigma attached to discussing symptoms of gut-related issues, and it’s one we’re finding causes people to feel embarrassed, isolated and in many situations prevents them from seeking much-needed medical help or diagnosis.

A recent survey of more than 300 Australian dietitians, commissioned to support National Gut Health Month, revealed:

  • Gut health problems among Australians (as seen by dietitians) have increased in severity over the past 12 months as a perceived result of increased stress (89%), change in diet (79%) and lack of exercise (46%).
  • More than 65% of dietitians surveyed believe COVID-19 has led to an increase in gut health issues.
  • The key diet-related issues were identified as due to not getting enough fibre (83%), low variety of plant-based foods (80%) and eating patterns (63%).
  • Almost half (43%) of all patients seeing a dietitian for gut related issues experience an impact on their mental health.

“Our gut and brain talk a lot more than people might think – and we’re seeing increasing mental health-related issues. Now, more than ever, we need to encourage gut and bowel-related conversations as part of our everyday vernacular,” said Dr McMillan.

The National Gut Health Month survey also identified women make up the majority of patients reporting gut health issues (90% vs 6% men), with the most commonly treated conditions being constipation (91%), irritable bowel syndrome (81%), gastroesophageal reflux (77%) and diarrhoea (76%) ranking among the highest.

Dr Maree Ferguson, Founder of Dietitian Connection, added: “We want to make it okay to talk about gut problems like bloating, gas, and changes in poo, so Australians understand what’s normal and when to seek help.

“Dietitians can play a key role in supporting a healthy gut through recommended dietary changes that can make a difference to health and wellbeing. This is a critical issue as we know gut health is the pathway to overall health and wellbeing,” Dr Ferguson said.

National Gut Health Month will run the entire month of February, and provide free access to health and nutrition information, resources, and recipes in one space – all aimed at addressing gut health issues and providing practical dietary and lifestyle advice so people can make changes to get on the path to a healthy and happy gut.

For more information about National Gut Health Month, visit: http://www.guthealthmonth.com/

If you’d like to know more about how to improve your diet to improve gut health, check out this article on the website. Many of the Recipes on this site are gut friendly too.