World Digestive Health Day 2024


World Digestive Health Day 2024

Every year, on May 29th, we celebrate World Digestive Health Day set up by the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO)1. This day serves as a reminder of the significance of digestive wellness. The digestive system is integral to many elements of our health, from our immune responses and mental health to our skin, kidney health and beyond.

Amidst the busy hustle and bustle of modern-day life, it is all too easy to dismiss the intricate workings of the digestive system, which functions to process nutrients, expel waste products, and maintain balance within the body.

That is exactly why this day exists – to honour and prioritise our digestive health. Despite its importance, digestive health is far too often overlooked in our wellness routines. Poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyles, stress, and dehydration are just some of the factors that can contribute to poor digestive health. Unfortunately, neglecting digestive health can have profound repercussions, causing debilitating pain and discomfort to those who experience digestive symptoms such as severe bloating and constipation.

If you are currently suffering from any of these symptoms, visit our Gut Problems page to find out when you should be seeking medical help.

Fun Facts about the Digestive System

To mark World Digestive Health Day, we would like to share some of our favourite facts about digestion. Read on to discover just how extraordinary, and complex, your digestive system really is…

  • The digestive system is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota, which play many roles around the body such as aiding digestion, producing vitamins, supporting the immune system and even communicating with to your brain.2

 

  • The digestive tract (i.e., the gut) is on average about 9m, or 30ft, in length – making it about as long as a school bus!

 

  • Your stomach lining continuously produces a thick layer of mucus to protect itself from the strong acids it uses to break down food.2

 

  • The digestive system has its own “brain” known as the enteric nervous system, which operates independently from the brain but can communicate with it too. This system is sometimes referred to as the “second brain.”3

 

  • The large intestine, also known as the colon, is home to the greatest number of bacteria in the entire digestive system.4 Here, these bacteria help to ferment undigested carbohydrates, producing gases like methane and hydrogen, which contribute to flatulence.

 

  • Chewing gum can stimulate the production of gastric acids, even though no food is being consumed, due to the body’s anticipatory response to food intake.5

 

  • The process of digestion begins even before food enters your mouth. The sight, smell, and even thinking about food can trigger the release of saliva and gastric juices in anticipation of eating.6

As we celebrate World Digestive Health Day, let’s make a collective pledge to prioritise our digestive wellbeing every day. To learn more about the importance of your gut and digestive health, order your free Love Your Gut Information Pack.

 

References

[1] World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO). Available at: https://www.worldgastroenterology.org/  (Accessed: 13 March 2024).
[2] Thursby, E. and Juge, N., 2017. Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochemical journal474(11), pp.1823-1836.
[3] Nezami, B.G. and Srinivasan, S., 2010. Enteric nervous system in the small intestine: pathophysiology and clinical implications. Current gastroenterology reports12, pp.358-365.
[4] Dieterich, W., Schink, M. and Zopf, Y., 2018. Microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract. Medical Sciences6(4), p.116.
[5] Helman, C.A., 1988. Chewing gum is as effective as food in stimulating cephalic phase gastric secretion. American Journal of Gastroenterology (Springer Nature)83(6).
[6] Feldman, M. and Richardson, C.T., 1986. Role of thought, sight, smell, and taste of food in the cephalic phase of gastric acid secretion in humans. Gastroenterology90(2), pp.428-433.

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