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Winter Wellness –Taking Care of Your Gut

07 January 2015

With winter now in full swing we will all have noticed a change in our eating habits and a noticeable shift in our eating trends from the times we eat to the types of food and drink we consume. Having moved away from lighter ‘summer’ meals and towards more substantial winter ‘comfort food’ we have to ask, how does this affect our gut and what can we do to ensure we take care of our digestive health?

Mr.Saeed a specialist consultant general and colorectal surgeon provides some insight into caring for your digestive system and what you should look out for during the winter months.

The digestive system is a complex organ which breaks down foods into their respective components of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and trace elements. The seasonal changes that affect the human body include an increase in metabolic rate. Over the centuries high energy foods during the winter months have become part of the staple diet and are the bases of many traditional dishes. It is important that any diet contains a balance of fibre, protein and unsaturated fats. It must also be low in sugar and salt. It is important to eat at regular intervals and to ensure adequate rehydration. Alcohol consumption should be moderated and avoid smoking.

Signs and symptoms

The gastrointestinal tract is continuously renewing itself and is prone to infections, inflammation and other abnormalities such as bowel cancer. Some of the signs of sinister pathology include:

  • Change in bowel habit
  • Rectal bleeding
  • A sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation
  • Abdominal pains
  • A lump appearing in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia

If you notice any of the above symptoms please consult your doctor.

Improving digestive health

It is important to remember your digestive health plays an integral part in your overall health and how you feel on a day to day basis. Ensuring you have a good mixed diet along with regular exercise and suitable sleep is one of the first steps to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

To assist you with making sure you are consuming the correct nutrients the UK government provides guidance, set out in European Law, on the recommended Reference Intakes (RI) for men, women and children.

Reference intakes now replace the former guidance provided in the format of the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) but follow the same basic principles to ensure you are fully informed. RIs are used along with information from companies to help detail the nutritional content of the advertised product. This assists you when you are selecting your food and drink by clearly detailing what the product provides in reference to your advised daily intake and encourages healthier eating habits.

Companies must now provide RIs across all the mandatory nutrients and in contrast to the GDAs where there were separate guidelines for men, women and children the new RIs provide one guideline for all. This system is paired with a colour code system to help flag when a product may be notably high in a set nutrient and encourages you to make sure you balance this out across the rest of your food and drink choices.

As part of a healthy balanced diet an adult’s reference intakes for a day are:

Reference   Intakes for energy and selected nutrients (adults)

Energy   or nutrient Reference   Intake
Energy 8400kJ /   2000kcal
Total   fat 70g
Saturates 20g
Carbohydrates 260g
Sugars 90g
Protein 50g
Salt 6g

IMPORTANT: Please note this information is a guide only and is not individual advice.

Finally try and remember even the most well planned and nutrient-dense diet will be lost on an unhappy gut, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms highlighted above then arrange an appointment with one of our specialist consultants. Small changes in your lifestyle and dietary habits can have a substantial impact on your health and long-term digestive wellbeing.

Got a concern?

Our consultant gastroenterologists are available for appointments throughout the week and with extended opening hours we will work with you to arrange a suitable time and date for your appointment.

To book a consultation with one of our consultants please call 01625 545 036 or email:

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