Gut Week begins as research shows potential IBS epidemic in the UK
National Gut Week began on Monday and will be running until the 25th August. Research carried out for the national digestive health awareness campaign shows that Britain’s hectic lifestyle habits are causing a significant increase in cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). So much so, that it is not just obesity that is seemingly set to be labelled as an ‘epidemic’. It is estimated that IBS is suffered by 12 million Brits and is one of the most common causes for time off work – the average sufferer is off work for around 22 days each year due to a flare up of their symptoms, which include a variety of debilitating problems such as stomach cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. To control IBS symptoms, health experts will often advise eating at evenly spaced out and set times each day. However, almost a quarter (24%) do not eat 3 equal sized meals each day and 10% are snacking on high-calorie unhealthy treats at least 3 times a day, according to research undertaken by One Poll among 2,000 adults across the UK from 3rd – 5th June 2013. So what other findings did the research uncover for Gut Week? . 23% of women most regularly snack on fruit, 23% of men prefer biscuits. . Almost 20% of women feel stressed most days, compared to 10% of men. . 10% eat breakfast in front of the computer, whilst over a third (35%) eat breakfast in front of the TV. . 44% eat dinner in front of the TV. From the data extracted it is clear that the demise of sitting around the table to eat is obvious with over a third now preferring to sit in front of the TV. The danger here is that people are probably eating more than they would normally as they’re too busy focusing on the programme in front of them and not on what they’re eating. This is on top of the fact an alarming number of people are feeling stressed ‘most days’, it is hardly surprising the nation is facing a potential IBS epidemic. Dr Nick Read, a gastroenterologist, commented: “It’s certainly worrying that a third of the people the research surveyed feel stressed and anxious most days. These feelings can activate the sympathetic nervous system which increases intestinal sensitivity and causes IBS spasms, bloating and indigestion. Eating while standing up or rushing around also sensitises the gut, making people less tolerant of the foods they eat. In short, this kind of lifestyle is a recipe for problems.” It has long been known that women account for the majority of IBS cases, and in fact account for more than 70% of hospital admissions. This is because their hormones seem to make IBS worse and makes them more susceptible to the symptoms. Moreover, trying to balance life at home with that at work seems to be taking its toll. “These days most women have to juggle a professional and family life,” says Dr Read. “This means rushing from one thing to the next and grabbing food on the go.” Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Solutions to IBS, adds: “Many people with IBS discover their bowels seem to function as a kind of emotional barometer, indicating how they feel about what is going on in their lives. Tension always makes IBS worse and we are living in much more stressful times.” However, you do not need to suffer in silence or think there is nothing you can do to control your symptoms. You can obtain a free ‘Gut Week pack’ today by either ordering it or downloading it. The Gut Week pack is full of digestive health and advice from a range of experts. Medical Specialists Pharmacy have also previously provided information on how to combat IBS and offer a number of medications to help control symptoms such as Mebeverine, Colpermin and Buscopan IBS Relief.