Gut health trends to ditch in 2024

Written by Sandra Mikhail, Founder and Director of Nutrition A-Z

We're kicking off the new year with a break up message. Some trends that are so popular within the sphere of "gut health" have overstayed their welcome, peddling misinformation and false promises so, it's time to bid farewell, as we embrace a more informed and balanced approach to digestive well-being!

Food intolerance tests
Despite the proliferation of so-called intolerance tests, there are no reliable blood tests for identifying food intolerances. We've mentioned this before and we're mentioning this again, food intolerance tests are the biggest wellness scam of the 21st century...

The most common unorthodox tests of allergy and intolerance are those that are based on IgG food antibody testing. IgG antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to exposure to external triggers, like pollens, foods or insect venom. IgG antibodies to food are commonly detectable in healthy adult patients and children, whether food-related symptoms are present or not. So, IgG antibody testing simply indicates food exposure and not necessarily ‘intolerance’. In fact, higher levels of IgG to foods may simply mean more tolerance to those foods. There is no credible evidence that measuring IgG antibodies is useful for diagnosing a food allergy or intolerance, nor that IgG antibodies cause symptoms. Despite studies showing the uselessness of this technique, it continues to be promoted.

Colonics, colon cleanses or colonic irrigation
These involve continuous infusions of fluid (anywhere between 15 - 60 litres!) for about 45 minutes, differing from one-time enemas. Colonics are heavily marketed by the wellness unicorn industry and ‘gut health’ social media gurus claiming to cleanse your bowel, ridding it of toxins, which by now you should realise is utter nonsense and lacking in any scientific backing. While there is a space for colonics in some medical settings, unfortunately the procedure has been heavily commercialised towards those seeking a squeaky cleansed bum to feel light and rid of waste. Colonics cannot be done at home since special equipment is required, including a trained professional. This glorified procedure comes with a ton of risks including electrolyte imbalances, bowel perforation, disturbing the balance of your gut microbiota, dehydration and infection to name a few. My suggestion is to let that part of your digestive system perform its duty as part of cleansing without external aid unless it is indicated by your health professional.

Celery Juice
This is perhaps another bogus practice that has taken over the wellness world advocated by someone who gets their medical knowledge from spirits. If that is not a red flag, I'm not sure what is! The phrase that has made the rounds "celery juice heals your gut" is not only ridiculous, but a reflection on how achieving gut health is oversimplified.

The idea that celery juice alone can heal the gut and cure various ailments oversimplifies the complex factors that contribute to gut health. Gut health is influenced by a variety of factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress levels, and genetics. Relying solely on celery juice to heal the gut disregards the importance of a balanced and diverse diet, rich in a wide range of nutrients, prebiotics, and probiotics, which collectively support gut health. There is no "magic bullet" when it comes to gut health. The gut is a highly intricate system that requires a holistic approach to maintain its optimal function. Drinking celery juice might provide some hydration and nutrients, but it cannot replace a comprehensive strategy that includes a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep.

Probiotic supplements
You may be shocked to see this on the list of gut health "outs" for 2024, but not everyone will benefit from probiotic supplementation despite what social media platforms and wellness gurus claim. Probiotic supplements have been heavily marketed as a must-have or a cure for all ailments. If you have a good gut, there is no need to be taking these. So, who would actually benefit? Research shows that probiotics may help with:
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea from antibiotic use
  • Diarrhoea from an infection
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis.

One of the most important things to consider with probiotic supplementation is the need to treat them like medication, meaning that you need to know the type of probiotic strain that is required to treat your health condition. It is the strain of the bacterium or yeast that is most important and determines if the product is going to work. Probiotic supplements should be taken for anywhere from four to 12 weeks at a time and it is also recommended to take about 10 g of prebiotics per day at the same time.

Before incorporating probiotic supplements into your routine, always consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that the specific product aligns with your health goals and needs. Additionally, obtaining probiotics through a diverse and balanced diet that includes fermented foods is a more natural and often recommended approach.

If you're looking for more gut health "ins" for 2024, grab a copy of the Gut Chronicles today to set your gut health roadmap for the coming year and for many more to come! You'll also equip yourself with all the knowledge on how to manage any gut health turbulence you're bound to experience.

Gut Health General
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