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IMODIUM® in collaboration with charity partner Guts UK

Illustration of smiling woman looking at Imodium and Guts UK Charity partnership

IMODIUM® in collaboration with charity partner Guts UK

Supporting your gut health with 100 years of expertise

IMODIUM® and Guts UK combined have over 100 years of expertise in gut health, so we know a thing or two about this complex but crucial part of the body. We’re joining forces to support people to understand more about their guts and encourage them to talk more openly about this often-stigmatised topic. We know 58% of people are embarrassed to talk about their digestive condition or symptoms, and 51% delay seeking advice for their symptoms for over 6 months – this needs to change.

Guts UK Charity believes it’s time the UK got to grips with guts. Our guts have been underfunded, misunderstood, and underrepresented for too long. Guts UK exists to change that, by providing expert information to patients and their families, funding life-changing and life-saving research, and raising awareness of digestive health, empowering people to seek help sooner.

Busting Common Gut Health Myths

A whopping 43% of adults in the UK suffer from digestive discomfort. But when it comes to gut health, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so knowing how to take care of your digestive system can be confusing and overwhelming.

A fundamental step towards a healthy gut is to be fully informed and know where you can get trusted guidance from. Knowledge is power! Together, Guts UK and IMODIUM® want to cut through the noise and provide you with information you can trust.

In this guide, we’ll break down some common gut health myths and provide you with some expert tips to help you begin to find a healthier balance for your gut.

Myth 1: “There’s no link between stress and my guts”

We can all feel stressed from time to time. This is especially true when dealing with challenging situations, such as money worries, exam season, or work-related issues. You may think that stress only has a mental impact but in fact it can physically affect our body – particularly the digestive system.

How stress affects gut health (and vice versa!)

There is two-way communication between the gut and the brain (known as the gut-brain axis) because they are quite literally connected, both physically through the Vagus nerve and chemically through neurotransmitters. This is why you may feel ‘butterflies in your tummy’ when you’re nervous, for example. These feelings are normal and a sign of your brain ‘talking’ to your gut.

This means that if you feel stressed, the brain’s stress response system can affect the movement of the GI tract, leading to symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and constipation.

In parallel, when our gut isn’t happy, it can impact aspects of our lives - from what we can do, where we can go and what we can eat, and this can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

Learning how to manage your wellbeing can help you feel more in control and help prevent negative impact on your digestive health. Research has found that psychologically based approaches towards alleviating physical digestive symptoms can be beneficial.

Here are some top tips to help manage stress and anxiety, and potentially alleviate issues you’re experiencing with your gut as a result:

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep.
  • Follow a balanced diet and keep your energy levels stable by eating regular meals.
  • Regular exercise can help release tension and improve mood. It’s also a great way of bringing people together and making connections. Exercise can also be done from the comfort of your own home.
  • Get support from people you trust.

Myth 2: “I don’t need to check my poo”

Your poo is an indication of your health, so it’s important to check it regularly. Below, you’ll find some guidance on what different colours, consistencies, and frequencies could mean.

Please consult your doctor for further guidance if you are concerned about your poo. If a change in your poo for three weeks or more has no obvious cause or you have also experienced unintentional weight loss, a lump in your belly or feel unwell then talk to your doctor.

Poo colour

  • Brown – Normal and healthy.
  • Green – Can be due to eating lots of greens, or caused by antibiotics, or a symptom of a gut infection.
  • Red – Can be a sign of certain foods (such as beetroot), or bleeding, either by piles or anal fissures (if the blood coats the outside of the poo) or bleeding in the bowel due to other conditions. Seek medical advice if you’re concerned.
  • Orange – Can be due to certain foods, supplements containing beta-carotene, or a sign of bile acid diarrhoea.
  • Yellow – A potential sign of too much fat inside the stool, or a sign of bile acid diarrhoea.
  • Black – Can be due to certain foods, medication containing bismuth, or consumption of iron tablets. Seek medical advice if your poo is black, particularly urgently if your poo is the consistency of tar.
  • Grey – Can be caused by medicine containing bismuth, or can indicate pancreas or liver issues. Seek medical advice if you’re concerned.

Poo consistency

  • Food in poo – Normal, this can be caused by not chewing food thoroughly enough.
  • Soft and solid – Normal and healthy.
  • Sausage-shaped and lumpy – A sign of mild constipation.
  • Separate and hard lumps – A sign of severe constipation.
  • Soft, loose stool – A sign of mild diarrhoea.
  • Mushy, watery stool – A sign of severe diarrhoea.
  • Stools that leave skid marks – Contain too much mucous in them and are a sign you may need more fibre in your diet.

Poo frequency

It is considered normal to pass stool between three times a week to three times a day.

Here are some top tips on how to keep your gut and your stool healthy:

  • Eat regularly throughout the day and include high fibre foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Chew food thoroughly.
  • Don’t hold off when you need to empty your bowel.

You can find out more detail about different stool types in Guts UK’s Poo-torial.

Myth 3: “I can trust all online gut health information”

Our survey found that almost one in four people (22%) turn to unqualified influencers on social media for health advice. This number increases to 29% amongst those aged 18-24 years. It has also been revealed that 1 in 5 people never or rarely check the health information they read is correct and accurate, and 3 in 10 people are also more likely to believe a health story if it’s shared by a friend on social media.

While the internet can be a great resource for finding out more about your gut health, it’s crucial to make sure you’re gathering information you can trust as there is a lot of potential misinformation out there that has the potential to cause more harm than good.

Tips for finding reliable gut health information

Here are some important criteria to help you check if a piece of information is trustworthy:

  • Check who produced / reviewed the content – Is the piece written / reviewed by a qualified health care professional (HCP) – such as a Gastroenterologist, Bowel Specialist Nurse, or a Gastroenterology Dietitian, for example – or a reliable charity organisation such as Guts UK?
  • Look for a published date – Is there a date for when the information was published or reviewed? Medical advice can change overtime, so be wary you’re getting the most up to date information.
  • Does the site / webpage look professional? – Watch out for typos, spelling mistakes, and other issues such as broken links. It might also be worthwhile being more aware of an organisations’ intentions, if they are attempting to sell you something in order to improve your gut health.
  • Check if sources are provided – Is the information backed up by credible sources?
  • Review if the information uses evidence – Is the information based on actual evidence or just one person’s experience?
  • Be cautious of ‘miracle cures’ – Does something sound too good to be true? If so, it probably is!
  • Be wary of surveys that draw conclusions from small sample sizes – Generally speaking, the more people in the study, the more reliable the results.

Additionally, you can always turn to the NHS website for gut health advice, to book appointments online, or to find local support groups.

Illustration of smiling woman looking at Imodium and Guts UK Charity partnership

More Myth-Busters

Imodium® in collaboration with Guts UK : Supporting your gut health with 100 years of expertise.

1. Imodium® via OnePoll, 2023. 2,000 UK Adults.

IMODIUM® and Guts UK Charity (reg. charity no. 1137029) combined have 100 years of expertise. Johnson & Johnson Limited will donate £20,000 to Guts UK Charity in relation to this 2024 charitable campaign and are working collaboratively with the charity to raise awareness, including creation of a media campaign and patient education materials.