Sound advice on diet


In this month’s blog BDRF CEO, Peter Rowbottom offers some insight into a topic that is hot on a lot of people’s lips…

 “What causes bowel problems in the first place?” is a question I often get asked when I tell people what I do for a living.

There’s never a simple response. The work we do at Bowel Disease Research Foundation covers a number of different disease areas – all linked to the bowel – and there isn’t actually a definitive answer I can give.

However, it turns out a recent visit by a local plumber has the solution all sewn up for us.

Plumber: It’s all definitely caused by diet.

Me: Well, the research points to diet being very much a factor but there are a number of different potential aspects that are believed to contribute to the cause.

Plumber: No, it’s definitely what you eat causes it.

Me: Perhaps, but the research seems to point towards a number…

Plumber:  (interrupting)..Western Diet ….all processed foods don’t know what chemicals they put in your food these days.  I cook all my family meals using organic meat and veg. You should see them piling up their trollies in Tesco – never seen so much crap.

Me: Perhaps, again I think the research….

Plumber: (interrupting)…Nah mate. Don’t listen to that .. definitely diet. What goes in must come out….

He went about his work, fixed the leaky pipe in no time at all and off he went without much more of a word about bowel disease.

What I loved about the small banter we had was the fact he was so sure of his own convictions. I didn’t probe him further on how he had come to his conclusions or the actions he was taking with his organic only food preparation. I’m no expert by any means and I don’t underestimate his knowledge on the topic either.

What I had been about to add to our conversation was: I’m led to believe research points to a number of different factors that might contribute to the state of bowel health today.

Diet, exercise, your genetic make-up, family history, the environment seem to play a part – and let’s not forget the elephant very much in the researcher’s room at the moment …the wonderful world of the microbiome.

In today’s information-heavy world, we are bombarded with messages, news reports, updates and new discoveries all day long. Not just through social media but through documentaries, newspapers, magazines – all conveniently pushed to us through our mobile phone.

There has probably never been an age in the history of mankind when the sum of human knowledge has been so easily accessible to everyone. But with that availability comes the problem of authenticity, the proliferation of fake news and the indoctrination of whole communities and voting populations on key world issues and political events.

The point about research is that it should provide evidence-based information to enable people to make decisions about a given topic.

In the case of bowel disease – we at BDRF fund medical research that does just that.

We’re proud of our integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to helping solve the most pressing questions that need to be answered in the realms of bowel disease.  Patients and members of the public are at the heart of everything we do.

So back to diet….

I would recommend a couple of research papers for you to feast your eyes on and encourage you to have a look at their conclusions yourself.

The first is a Lancet Commission piece on healthy diets from sustainable food systems – it’s a hefty text full of wonderful graphs, tables, summaries and practical solutions to one of the world’s most pressing problems – how we feed the world and how we do it sustainably.

If you read nothing else, then at least have a look at the key messages on the second page.

One of which I will just leave here:

“Dietary changes from current diets to healthy diets are likely to substantially benefit human health, averting about 10·8–11·6 million deaths per year, a reduction of 19·0–23·6%.”

Quite astonishing I’m sure you’ll agree – but you probably already knew that!

Download the full article here

The second article looks at Fermented Foods and their impact on our gut health. A fascinating insight into a much talked about subject.  It’s a fair overview of where the research is up to now. The biggest take-home for me was that there is

“Limited clinical evidence for effectiveness but more clinical high-quality trials warranted”

You can view the full text here:

We’d love to hear your feedback and your views on any aspect of research into our bowels.  Feel free to contact us through our website or our social media channels.

Our Hopes and Fears campaign is still live if you want to get involved too – I’ll be bringing you further news on the feedback received so far in the next blog piece.

In the meantime – good bowel health to you!

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