Dr Rabia Lalani, Lisa Macfarlane, Alana Macfarlane Kempner and Sophie Medlin in Know Your S**t
How often do you poo? It’s an uncomfortable question, but is really one worth answering. This evening Channel 4 launches Know Your S**t: Inside Our Guts, a new six-part docu-series which focuses on the ins and outs (literally) of our gut health.
Each weekly episode will cover a range of topics – from mental health to our immune system – and feature people who suffer from a wide range of gut-health issues. Sophie Medlin, a dietician, and Dr. Rabia Topan, a gastroenterologist will help them to get a diagnosis and provide them with help and advice to set them on their journey to better bowel movements.
Presenters of the show Lisa and Alana MacFarlane, run their own gut health resource called The Gut Stuff. The sisters began their gut journey in 2015 when they participated in the TwinsUK study on the gut microbiome, and found that despite being identical twins with identical upbringings, they had very different gut microbiomes.
When asked why most people don’t know enough about their gut health, Dr Rabia Topan says there are few reasons.
“Firstly there’s a taboo about poo, it reflects this idea that for a long time, our digestive health has been something that we feel quite embarrassed about. We hide away from it because our gut is not something that we can see clearly. And it’s also the product of lots of embarrassing noises and funny smells.”
The series is jam-packed with information about our gut health, but we broke down the five most interesting facts we learned during the first episode.
Constipation is more a female issue
It turns out that women are more likely to be constipated than men. So much so that there actually constipation tablets that are only catered to women. This is partly due to how society sees women. Women are taught to be clean, we’re taught that we’re not supposed to fart or poo. Which causes many of us to feel anxious about needing to use the loo.
Mental health and neurodiversity can affect our gut health
If you’re someone who has anxiety, low moods or ADHD, this can affect your gut heath and vice versa. Dr Rabia calls it ’bi-directional communication’. “The gut brain connection is basically communication going bottom up and top down between the brain and the gut. There’s cross communication between these systems. There’s actually four systems involved so your hormones, your immune system, your nervous system, and then your gut bugs,” Dr Rabia says.
So it flows both ways, our gut affects our brain and our brain affects our gut, who knew?!
Onions and garlic are the biggest causes of bloating
I apologise to all garlic and onion lovers out there, but they could be contributing to your bloating belly. Onions and garlic contain fructans, which are soluble fibers that may cause bloating. This can also be heightened if you’re allergic or intolerant to onions and garlic.
People of colour are more likely to be lactose intolerant
Yes, if you’re a person of colour you’re more likely to be lactose intolerant than those who are white. And it all traces back to history. 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Certain population groups started farming cows for diary products later than those in Europe. So many people of colour suffer from primary lactose intolerance meaning they won’t ever be able to digest lactose well.
Three ways we can add more fibre into our diet
Fibre is essential for our diet, the recommended daily intake is 30 grams, although most of us are only getting 19 grams. Three ways you can add more fibre into your diet are:
Eating potato skins
Adding lentils to your diet
Adding more brown pasta and bread to your diet
Dr Rabia wants people watching the show to feel empowered about how they can manage their gut health, without necessarily always going to a doctor. “I think a lot of people feel really empowered to know that they don’t have to shy away from their gut health and that they can start to do small simple changes today, to make a really big difference tomorrow.”
Know Your S**t: Inside Our Guts launches tonight at 8:00 on Channel 4 and will be available on 4OD.