More than a third of Brits suffer from gut problems and fear they have an undiagnosed condition – but won’t go to the doctor.
A surbey of 2,000 adults found that 46% of sufferers believe symptoms aren’t serious enough to seek treatment.
Despite this, a quarter of those polled say the debilitating illness leaves them feeling less self-assured, and one in six are unable to meet others as and when they would want.
While one third of adults are left anxious and say their mental health has taken a turn for the worse.
When it comes to diet, 39% of people are unable to eat what they want, which makes them feel down.
Dr Chris George, speaking on behalf of Symprove Ltd, which commissioned the research, said: "When it comes to our health, it's time to start oversharing.”
He added: "Talking about so-called 'embarrassing' digestive symptoms is the first step in our journeys to happier, healthier lifestyles as research has shown links between our gut microbiome and so many aspects of our overall health and wellbeing."
The study found 57% of sufferers don't take their gut health as seriously as they should.
And this is despite more than a quarter feeling limited by menus in a restaurant, while 24% have felt unable to socialise with others due to their worries.
One in five have even missed important occasions as a result of their ill health – or felt unable to go to work.
Feelings of isolation have been experienced by 46% due to their gut health with 39% encountering a lack of sympathy from others despite their struggles.
10 poor gut symptoms experienced by Brits
- An upset stomach
- Feeling sluggish and tired
- Skin irritation
- Food intolerances
- A low immune system
Common symptoms of poor gut health most frequently felt by Brits include gas, an upset stomach or feeling sluggish and tired.
Feeling bloated, constipated or encountering cramps are other commonly encountered symptoms.
And half of respondents strive to have a healthy gut, yet 27% feel like theirs is in a poor state.
Another 53% would love to improve the health of their gut, but don't know how – with those trying to make improvements looking to yoghurt, bananas or beans to have a healthy impact.
Yet 64% think people misunderstand gut health and the issues that come from it – and 56 per cent don't believe gut health is commonly enough known about.
Spicy foods, processed products and dairy were the items Brits most struggled with after eating.
More than a quarter wish there was more easily accessible support for gut health conditions, with a fifth preferring the idea of speaking to a specialist as one in six feels uncomfortable at the thought of explaining their toilet habits with a GP.
Dr Chris George, speaking on behalf of Symprove Ltd, added: "We know it can be tricky to talk about digestive symptoms, that's why we are encouraging people to overshare.
"Symprove want to empower you to take that first step – speak to your GP, a dietitian or nutritionist, but especially your loved ones. Sharing is caring!"
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