What Is A Healthy Gut In The UK?

 In Health, Neolithic

It appears that table talk in Britain excludes conversations about the gut, even what is a healthy gut? Daily ablutions, regularity, floaters, the avoidance of constipation, all are no no subjects. Other cultures are not so squeamish and routinely discuss how their guts are performing. This will occur even over lunch or at a dinner party.

The Victorians

Let’s blame the Victorians for making our gut and sex taboo subjects. Those rare Victorians who dared to write about the gut portrayed it as the enemy, something in opposition, in need of placating. Eat small portions and don’t overeat was their sensible advice. As a child in the 1950’s, I was constantly constipated, dropping large torpedoes into the toilet. Processed white bread and cornflakes were de rigueur for the poor. Some swede and cabbage kept me going but only because they were cheap and not because of their valuable fibre.


In the 1960’s I recall many people I worked with suffering indigestion. Rennies was a staple part of a meal. Stomach ulcers were common until a doctor recognised that bacteria were the cause; the medical profession was disbelieving at the time. Piles, properly called haemorrhoides, were endemic. Club comedians in Shropshire did whole skits pretending to be on the toilet, quipping whilst straining, and mocking sufferers. Now, this issue is taken more seriously. Thousands of lifestyle blogs highlight the need for fibre. Despite this, 63% of Americans have sluggish bowels. Between 10-20% of Britons have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Still, few people talk about the gut as they do about their other bodily functions.


We might assume that my pagan ancestor Zuri, back in 2200 BC, had some advantages over us. She foraged perhaps 70% of her food and most of it was green and full of fibre. This would have included gorse and pignut. Meat and fats came sporadically from hunting, at least until cattle rearing developed. Because that was how people had lived since time began, with a healthy fibre filled gut. For certain, she would have emptied her bowels daily, with ease; they would have given her no choice! Unfortunately, she was also riven with gut worms but that is a no no subject too!

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