World Digestive Health Day

Put yourself first this World Digestive Health Day

World Digestive Health Day takes place on 29th May 2023.

It’s a global event led by the World Gastroenterology Organisation which has been running since 1958.

Designed to spark conversations about digestive health and the importance of a good diet, the organisers want to educate communities all around the world, while providing essential support and advice.

The focus for this year’s World Digestive Health Day is A Healthy Gut from the Start — encouraging people to take care of their gut health through all stages of their life, while highlighting the essential role that gut health can play in our overall mental and physical wellbeing.

This year, the organisers also want to reiterate the changing dietary needs of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and what that means for the body. 

Understanding digestive health

Digestion describes the process of the body breaking down food and drink and turning them into nutrients, which then help the body to function. As we chew and swallow food, the mouth turns it into a wet ball, known as a bolus, which then travels down the oesophagus to the stomach.

Digestive enzymes then break down parts of this ball of food into substances and nutrients that can be absorbed by the digestive tract. The remaining food then continues into the colon, or large intestine, and is excreted as waste.

The gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut, is a long tube and refers to the start of the mouth all the way to the end of the back passage. This includes the oesophagus, stomach, and colon, which all work together to digest food and extract nutrients that our body needs to function while removing any unwanted substances.

With such a huge role to play, the overall health of our gut and digestive system is essential. The gut also has more than 100,000 nerve cells and is closely linked to the immune system and emotions, which is why some individuals experience issues with their digestion and stomach when feelings of stress and anxiety arise. However, it’s not just emotions that can trigger certain digestive concerns.      

Digestive concerns to be aware of

As a leading health testing laboratory, we know that certain foods can trigger health conditions – which can cause a number of unpleasant and painful symptoms. By being aware of these conditions, their symptoms and any personal triggers, you can take steps to not only boost your gut health, but also your overall health and wellbeing.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops over time because of a sensitivity to gluten; a protein found in certain cereal grains including wheat, rye, and barley, and commonly used in food products such as cereal, bread, and pasta.

When a person with coeliac disease eats gluten, this causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissue, causing damage to the gut lining and preventing the body from absorbing nutrients from food. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications, which can negatively impact a person’s quality of life.

Coeliac disease affects around 1 in 100 people in the UK, but only 30% of these people are diagnosed, with experts saying that there are likely to be many more people suffering from it.

Lactose intolerance is another digestive issue where the body fails to produce enough of the lactase enzyme, which is required to break down lactose in the body. Lactose is a sugar composed of galactose and glucose and is mainly found in dairy products such as milk.

For those who are lactose intolerant, the body produces little to no lactase, meaning that this sugar remains intact and is fermented by bacteria in the colon, leading to uncomfortable symptoms.

Some of the most common symptoms associated with coeliac disease and lactose intolerance include:

  • Bloating and wind
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and sickness
  • Constipation

However, it’s very important to remember that symptoms can vary from person to person, and having the associated symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have either condition.

As both coeliac disease and primary lactose intolerance can be inherited and often run in families, genetic testing is a helpful tool for anyone experiencing symptoms, or for people who have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with either condition (i.e. parent, sibling or child).

Coeliac disease and primary lactose intolerance genetic testing

Our Genetic Coeliac Disease Test can tell you whether you have the genes linked to coeliac disease, while our Genetic Lactose Intolerance Test can tell you whether you have the MCM6 gene variations that indicate primary lactose intolerance.

Each test costs just £99, or you can buy them both together for £168 and save £30.  Only simple cheek swab samples are required, and results are available in 4-5 days. Whatever your reasons, a Genetic Coeliac Disease Test or Genetic Lactose Intolerance Test can give you peace of mind or enable you to seek the correct diagnosis more quickly.

Our non-invasive genetic test kits have been specifically designed to enable you to collect your samples quickly and easily at home, before returning them to our state-of-the-art laboratory. All testing is also performed in-house at our UK facilities, by our expert geneticists – so your samples will never be sent abroad.

Need advice on whether these tests are right for you? Call our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email for more information.

Health Testing

Order your genetic lactose or coeliac test from our award-winning laboratory.