What’s up with your gut? Find the answers to bloating and diarrhoea in my new book

Gut problems are incredibly common and plague millions of people on a daily basis.Sadly, many people never find a satisfactory explanation or diagnosis for their painful and embarrassing symptoms.

Whether you bloat after eating bread or pasta, suffer cramping pains in your abdomen or experience bouts of watery diarrhoea or suffer  unexplained constipation despite eating lots of fibre – it can be a battle to get to the bottom of  what’s really up with your gut.

With coeliac disease for instance, where the body’s immune system mistakes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley or rye for a pathogen and mounts an inflammatory response, it can take an average of 13 years to get a diagnosis and in the UK it’s been estimated that 75 per cent of cases go undiagnosed.

It’s the same with a whole host of other gut conditions -including bile acid diarrhoea and non coeliac gluten sensitivity to name just a few.With this in mind, I’ve co-authored a new book with gastroenterologist Professor Julian Walters from  Imperial  Healthcare in London called ‘What’s Up with Your Gut?’ (Hammersmith Press £14.99 on Amazon).

The book discusses possible causes for gut problems and helps you spot key symptoms for different diseases.  These include familiar ones you will heard of including IBS ,coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease but also some lesser known but surprisingly common conditions you might not have come across before, including bile acid diarrhoea, non coeliac gluten sensitivity, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and microscopic colitis. There are also useful sections on spotting the signs of cancer, indigestion  GORD, globus sensation and pretty much every other gut complaint you can think of!

There’s also lots of information about FODMAPs (short chain carbohydrates or sugars) and the foods you should try and cut down on; tips on how to get tested  for lactose intolerance and other food intolerances.

Seven mystery gut problems you probably haven’t heard of

Here’s a taster of seven mystery gut complaints that you can read all about in the book.

  • Bile acid diarrhoea: Up to one million people in the UK could have bile acid diarrhoea (BAD) also known as bile acid malabsorption – according to some estimates. It’s a particularly nasty type of diarrhoea which can produce up to 10 watery bowel movements a day. The good news is that there’s a test and a treatment available for it.
  • Non coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS): It’s estimated between four and seven million people could have NCGS in the UK. Despite NCGS producing symptoms similar to coeliac disease including bloating, diarrhoea, and weight loss and it responding to a gluten-free diet – blood tests and biopsies are negative for coeliac disease.
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth):SIBO is another common cause of watery diarrhoea. It’s caused by too much bacteria growing in the small intestine  and results in fatty stools, weight loss, bloating or even anaemia. Some experts have proposed it is a possible cause of Irritable Bowel syndrome.
  • Microscopic colitis: This can be a cause of severe, watery,persistent diarrhoea, bloating and pain and is caused by inflammation of the colon and estimated to affect one in 1,000 people. The inflammation is only visible under a microscope and can be missed in standard  biopsies.
  • Globus sensation: This is the medical name for feeling that you have a lump in your throat (when no physical lump exists) and accounts for one in 20 referrals to ENT specialists.
  • Pelvic Radiation Disease: PRD can cause 21 different bowel symptoms including bloating and diarrhoea with loose and fatty stools and is caused by radiation treatment for cancer in the pelvic area. Symptoms can develop long after treatment so patients may not realise they are connected to their radiotherapy.
  • Slow transit constipation: Between 15 and 30 per cent of patients with chronic constipation have slow transit where their gut doesn’t move food and waste at the normal rate. Eating more fibre will make it worse – leading to years of discomfort unless the right diagnosis is made.

I’ll be blogging about some of these conditions in more depth shortly but just thought I’d give you the heads up that the book is now available to buy (there’s a Kindle  version too). I really hope the book  helps you find out what is up with your gut – the inspiration for  it came from the very encouraging feedback I’ve had on the blog so thanks to everyone who has commented and read WUWYH. Big thanks go to Professor Julian Walters for his help and guidance with the research  and writing of the book too.

Here’s a link  to an article in the Daily Mail about the book which will tell you more (the fact that it has been shared online 1.5K times means there are clearly a lot of people out there affected by these issues). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3820080/The-7-mystery-gut-problems-doctor-not-spot-Millions-patients-left-undiagnosed.html

Continue reading What’s up with your gut? Find the answers to bloating and diarrhoea in my new book

Don’t get SAD…. get goggles

photo(27)                                                                     CAPTION: Forget the beach … summer is over

I don’t want to keep blogging about the same subjects BUT if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder now is the time you really should be upping your game.

In the UK we’ve just had a golden summer that we’ll probably talk about for years to come in the same way some of us still harp on about the Summer of 1976 ,(if you missed it and were living overseas: it didn’t rain that much). Look out the window this morning and you’ll see fog… there’s no denying summer is over now.When the weather ‘turned  ‘last week and the collective  ‘grey skies’ gloom descended, the chatter  I picked  up (I’m hardly GCHQ but I listen to Facebook,  my kids , husband,  passengers on the train, fellow journos at press dos and  people at the dentist’s surgery), was that we’re all feeling miserable again.

I won’t bore you with lengthy explanations of what SAD is or its cousin winter blues (I call it SAD-Lite).  For that you’ll have to read my earlier blog here (Why we’ve all still got the winter blues), but it’s important to know that using a SAD lamp NOW in the run up to the clocks going back on October 27 and through the winter, may help prevent you getting the blues. Admittedly, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence don’t agree that there is enough evidence on this and says SAD should be treated like depression with antidepressants, but the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association do recommend lamps and if you feel fine in the summer and  don’t like pills (like  me) they might be worth a try.


CAPTION: Light evenings are fading fast

More about light therapy

Anyway  lamps simulate summer light conditions so levels of the ‘ body clock ‘ hormone melatonin are reset to the amount produced in the summer. A bright, sunny day provides around 100,000 LUX (the measure of brightness) — typical indoor domestic lighting only has 200-500 LUX, so most people use SAD lamps with 10,000 LUX. The advice is to use the lamps daily for varying periods, depending on light intensity in autumn and winter, but also in summer if there is no sun.

I was just about to dust off my SAD lamp  to start bathing myself in blue light every morning when an email pinged into my inbox from Luminette  to tell me they are now making SAD goggles – so you don’t have to stay in one place while you get your daily dose of LUX …how convenient. They have been developed by the University of Liege in Belgium to try to improve compliance with light therapy as lots of people are apparently too busy  to sit in front of a light box.Unlike traditional light therapy treatments, Luminette enables you to get  light therapy on the move – ideal for people like me who tend to fidget and  flit about.

According to the PR blurb Luminette® uses a combination of a light source and a hologram with a patented matrix, to increase the number of light rays that pass through the retina, thereby mimicking the effects of natural light. The press release claims  they offer the same therapeutic effects as bulkier  ‘light box’ devices.


CAPTION: Goggle therapy…yes I look like a daft zombie but it’s all in the name of science

Well, reader on your behalf I have been wearing  said goggles loaned this week from Luminette and I can report they are comfortable, resting just above your nose and you quite forget you have them on. I even answered the door to the postman forgetting I was wearing them. As they give your eyes a glassy zombie look – he got quite a shock. I’ve worn them whilst I’m working (although there is a glare if you look at the computer screen), eating breakfast , clearing up and reading the paper. They are battery-powered so you don’t have to plug into a socket and cost £199  plus VAT http://www.sad-lighthire.co.uk/product/luminette-sad-light-therapy-visor-introductory-offer/176.

Apparently if light therapy is going to work for you, you usually feel better within a week  and I’m definitely feeling more upbeat, so fingers crossed. Anyway I’ll keep you posted.

Watch the 2 minute video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ

For more information on SAD and Winter Blues read  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2299045/Winter-blues-Tired-grumpy-hungry-Why-grey-skies-syndrome-blame-.html#ixzz2fRlyjq2d