Have you experienced “butterflies in your stomach” or just had a strong “gut feeling” in difficult situations? There’s a good reason why these terms came about – the gastrointestinal tract is inextricably linked to the brain, and stresses from the environment can send signals from the brain to the gut and vice versa, which produces these physical symptoms of the digestive system. This is why you often feel the need to go to the toilet when you are nervous or anxious about something.
Your bowel habits aren’t the nicest and most socially appropriate topic to talk about, but it’s a huge part of our functioning body and a greater indicator of your health than you might think. When I see patients, I usually try to get a gauge of their bowel movement to assess their colon health — how often are they pooping? Is the process difficult?
Our digestive tract contains about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria — some harmful, and some necessary for a healthy body. We term these bacteria collectively as gut microbiomes. Many doctors who specialise in gut health agree that having a wide variety of good bacteria can provide benefits like enhance your immune system and improve symptoms of depression. Several studies were done in the past two decades also demonstrate the link between gut health, autoimmune diseases, cancer and more. Simply put, if you have a bad gut, it can take a toll on your entire body.
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure to visually image the lining of your colon in order to examine it for any irregularities. Colonoscopies are usually carried out by general surgeons or Gastroenterologists. A long and soft tube with a camera & light known as a Colonoscope is carefully inserted via the anus, carrying a live image to a screen which allows the doctor to examine the colon, all the way to the exit of the small intestine.
A gastroscopy can help rule out or confirm the presence of conditions like stomach cancer, peptic ulcers or gastritis. In this procedure, a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is lowered down the throat to look inside the food pipe, stomach and first small of the small intestine. The endoscope has a camera and light at one end which captures and sends images of your insides to a monitor. It can also take tissue samples by latching instruments such as small pincers, as well as suck out air and fluids.