Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis Trust Your Gut Interview

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis Trust Your Gut Interview

Do You Trust Your Gut?

The Jodi Lee Foundation has partnered with three experts in the fields of health, wellbeing and nutrition, Dr Ginni Mansberg, Reece Carter and Themis Chryssidis as part of their Trust Your Gut campaign, which encourages Australians to act on their 'gut feelings' and see their GP.

Since 2010, awareness, education and prevention has been at the heart of the Jodi Lee Foundation. The Foundation has raised awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer, the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia, through campaigns like Trust Your Gut, and has encouraged Australians to take active steps to prevent the disease.

Newly appointed CEO Kathryn Quintel attests to the effectiveness and importance of the Jodi Lee Foundation for Australians. "With my family history of bowel cancer, the risk of myself and my siblings developing the disease increases 15-fold," she explains. "Education and early screening for people like me is so important - it's critical to catch it early."

The Jodi Lee Foundation has helped thousands understand ways to recognise and act quickly on symptoms and gain knowledge of their history. The Trust Your Gut event and campaign, aims to help communicate with, educate and support more Australians than ever.

Some key bowel cancer statistics that are important for Australians to be aware of include:
Over 65% of us will experience uncomfortable gut symptoms in any three-month period
Symptoms to be aware of include bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhoea, blood in your stools, unexplained tiredness and unexplained weight loss
Learn to know what is normal for you. Trust your gut instinct – you know your body better than anyone else – especially if something is not right
We want to move more patients to early detection, because sometimes bowel cancer presents itself with these symptoms
Statistically it's unlikely your bowel symptoms will be caused by bowel cancer, especially if you are under 50 years of age
The critical thing with bowel cancer is to catch it early. Acting quickly when you first notice symptoms is key because over 90% of cases can be successfully treated if diagnosed before the cancer spreads
Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world
Every 2 hours, bowel cancer claims a life. That's around 80 people every week, or over 4,000 each year

For more information and advice for prevention and early detection of bowel cancer, visit www.jodileefoundation.org.au


Interview with Kathryn Quintel, CEO of Jodi Lee Foundation and Themis Chryssidis, dietician and JLF ambassador

Question: What types of gut symptoms could indicate a problem?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: A staggering 65% of us will experience uncomfortable gut symptoms – such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation – in any three-month period, yet many of us will not do anything about it.

Unusual gut symptoms that could indicate a problem include:
Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your bowel movements, even if only occasional, should never be ignored.

A change in bowel habits for longer than a week:
going to the toilet more frequently
constipation
loose or watery bowel movements
feeling that the bowel does not completely empty
bowel movements that are thinner than usual

Frequent gas, bloating, fullness or cramps.
Unexplained feelings of tiredness, breathlessness or a lack of energy.
Unexplained weight loss or vomiting.
Chronic or new abdominal pain that exists for more than a few days.
A lump in your abdomen or rectum.

The Jodi Lee Foundation want to move more patients to early detection, because sometimes bowel cancer presents itself with bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation.


Question: When do we need to act on these gut problems?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: If your unusual gut symptoms persist for longer than a week, we ask that you see your GP and have your symptoms checked out.


Question: What are the main symptoms of bowel cancer?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: You may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of bowel cancer, but if you do experience any of the following you need to act quickly and see your GP.

Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your bowel movements, even if only occasional, should never be ignored.

A change in bowel habits for longer than a week:
going to the toilet more frequently
constipation
loose or watery bowel movements
feeling that the bowel does not completely empty
bowel movements that are thinner than usual

Frequent gas, bloating, fullness or cramps.
Unexplained feelings of tiredness, breathlessness or a lack of energy.
Unexplained weight loss or vomiting.
Chronic or new abdominal pain that exists for more than a few days.
A lump in your abdomen or rectum.


Question: What are the common causes of bloating?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: Bloating can be caused by:

inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis,
auto immune conditions such as coeliac disease,
stress and anxiety,
infection or inflammation of the digestive track (gastroenteritis),
premenstrual syndrome,
constipation,
an inflamed or infected gall bladder,
cancer,
food chemical intolerances, or
fermentable carbohydrate intolerances (FODMAPs).

As you can see there are many potential causes of stomach bloating, and this is by no means an exhaustive list! If you experience ongoing bloating It is crucial that the potentially serious and sinister causes of the bloating are ruled out before treatment commences as some methods of treatment may improve symptoms but also mask more serious conditions.


Question: How can we eat to maintain a healthy gut and bowel?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: The key to maintaining a healthy gut and bowel comes back to the basics of enjoying a varied, high fibre diet comprised of a range of fruits and vegetables, pulses, healthy fats, plenty of water and regular exercise.

Our gut microbiota is made up of many different types of healthy bacteria. Manipulating the type of bacteria within our gut and introducing new types of bacteria is extremely difficult, so focus must be on maintaining a healthy quantity of the bacteria you have by providing the bacteria with fuel in the form of fibre which they ferment and in turn create short-chain fatty acids which is an important energy source for the bowel.

SO for a healthy gut think, fibre, water and exercise!


Question: What is the Trust Your Gut campaign?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: We created the Trust Your Gut campaign to start a conversation with people around unusual gut symptoms. The campaign is designed to raise awareness around symptoms – what's normal, what's not, what you should do and when to act.

Through our campaign we want to reach more Australians and provide you with clear information from our panel of experts as well as tools you can use to take appropriate action and learn when to 'trust you gu''.

We know that 65% of us will experience uncomfortable gut symptoms in any three-month period, yet many of us will not do anything about it. A few of us will explain it away as being diet related or due to stress. Some will Google 'irritable bowel syndrome' or put it down to 'not being as young or as fit as we used to be'. Even fewer of us will ask our GP about our symptoms.

In many cases that 'gut feeling' you may have that something is not right, is worth trusting – no matter what your age. The campaign is about education and empowering people with information.


Question: What do you hope to achieve with the Trust Your Gut campaign?

Kathryn Quintel and Themis Chryssidis: We want more people to learn what is normal for them when it comes to gut health and changes to bowel habits.

We want you to trust your gut – you know your body better than anyone else – especially if something is not right.

Ultimately the Jodi Lee Foundation want to move more patients to early detection, because sometimes bowel cancer presents itself with the unusual gut symptoms, we're talking about.

Statistically it's unlikely your bowel symptoms will be caused by bowel cancer, especially if you are under 50 years of age. But the critical thing with bowel cancer is to catch it early. Acting quickly when you first notice symptoms is key because over 90% of cases can be successfully treated if diagnosed before the cancer spreads.


Interview by Brooke Hunter




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