To properly look after your gut health, it’s important to have all the facts and let go of any misconceptions. So, let’s start by debunking a few common myths about gut health.
MYTH - gut health is only determined by what you eat
Food is integral to a healthy gut, but there are many other variables that can impact or damage the delicate balance of your gut microbiota. The gut is intrinsically linked to the brain, so stress can severely impact digestion and alter the delicate balance of good bacteria. Sleep, medication, exercise and genetics can also affect this balance and impact your overall gut health.
MYTH - everyone’s gut is the same
No, in fact, everyone’s gut is different. Our bowel habits, rate of digestion, hormone levels and bacteria balance are all unique as they depend on countless different day-to-day variables like hydration, sleep and stress. So, not all guts are the same and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gut health.
MYTH - gluten and dairy are bad for gut health
This is a very common misconception. Unless you suffer from coeliac disease, which affects 1% of the entire population,2 or you’re lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, both gluten and dairy can be an essential part of a balanced diet.
A varied diet is key for diverse and healthy gut bacteria, so cutting out entire food groups is rarely necessary unless you’ve been advised to do so by a healthcare professional. For example, a lot of gluten-rich foods contain fibre, which is essential to gut health, while dairy is a great source of protein and minerals.
MYTH - gut health is only important for digestion
A healthy gut is vital for digestion, yes. But, just as gut health can be affected by other factors, the gut itself controls more than just digestion. The brain and gut are connected, and recent studies have found that it’s a two-way street.
That means poor gut health can affect our mental health, sleeping patterns, energy levels and immune system.
MYTH - a detox or colonic irrigation can restore gut health
This is another common misconception. The truth is that both detoxes and colonic irrigation can actually damage your gut health unless they’ve been specifically prescribed by a doctor.
Detoxes usually involve extreme dietary restrictions, which literally starve the gut of the variation it needs to keep healthy. Meanwhile colonic irrigation can damage the balance within the gut by washing away good bacteria, causing dehydration and even damaging the lining of the bowel.