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Community Advocacy Organization

What Social Media Isn’t Telling You About Your Gut Health

Currently trending on TikTok is #guttok, which includes a variety of videos people across the world have made on how to heal your gut. The videos claim the supplements they use or tricks they do will lead to clearer skin, less bloating, and a variety of other benefits. While this topic isn’t new to social media, gut health has quickly become a fad.
We met with Allison Wood, DO, a gastroenterologist who works with McLaren Greater Lansing, to find out if there is any truth to the suggestions shared on social media.
“There are no secret fixes when it comes to gut health,” said Dr. Wood. “Eating a well-balanced diet, including protein, fruits and veggies, and a low amount of carbohydrates and sugar, is key to keeping the biodiversity of your gut healthy.”
Foods have natural probiotics and fibers that when eaten create the correct ratios of bacteria in your gut. A balanced diet that consists of a variety of foods is all you need for proper gut health. It might surprise you to learn that supplements such as probiotics shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution for gut health.
“Supplements are not approved by the FDA and can contain fluff or different ingredients than what you read on the label,” said Dr. Wood. “If you do think a probiotic would be helpful, try it for a month and track if you are seeing success. If you are, you should continue to use for maybe another month, but the goal would be to correct your diet, so you are getting the things you need for your gut through your food.”
A normal frequency for bowel movements is anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. If you are more or less frequent, you may have an issue with your gut health. You will also want to talk with your doctor if you experience a large change in your bowel pattern, even if it falls within the normal range.
“If you are experiencing diarrhea, constipation, or a change in your bowel patterns, we typically start with a stool study and go from there,” said Dr. Wood. “If you are having diarrhea, we are looking for signs of infection, inflammation, or pancreatic insufficiency.”
Major red flags when it comes to gut health are unintentional weight loss, stools that wake you up from sleep, blood in the stool, anemia, and diarrhea that has lasted more than four weeks. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need a colonoscopy.
“I think it’s important for people to know that the screening guidelines for colonoscopy have changed and it is now recommended that everyone start their colonoscopy screenings at age 45,” said Dr. Wood.
Screening is easy and can be ordered by your doctor. Learn more about the new colonoscopy guidelines by clicking here. To request an appointment, click here.
If you think that your gut is unhealthy, it might be time to talk with your primary care doctor about your concerns. If you need a primary care doctor that is accepting new patients, click here.
For more articles on health and wellness, click here.
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