According to new findings from researchers in New Zealand, kiwi fruit can help to encourage more frequent bowel movements in those with constipation.

While constipation is a common problem, the treatments currently available are often not deemed to be as effective as they should be. So, could kiwi fruit be a better, alternative treatment? Here, we look at what the recent study found and when you may need to seek help for constipation.

Kiwi fruit more effective than Psyllium

The latest research carried out by the University of Otago in New Zealand has found that kiwi fruit is more effective at treating constipation than the traditional treatment ‘Psyllium’. The international multicentre controlled study recruited patients from New Zealand, Japan, and Italy, and included a total of 184 participants.

Most participants either had constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), or functional constipation. Some healthy people were also included in the study as controls. There were 136 women and 48 men included.

In the first two weeks of the study, participants were asked to record their bowel movements. They were then assigned either 7.5g of psyllium or two ripe kiwi fruits without the skins for four weeks. Treatment was then paused for four weeks, before participants switched treatments for an additional four weeks.

Those with functional constipation found that after four weeks of eating kiwi fruits, their bowel movements increased by 1.53 movements a week. Participants with IBS-C saw an increase of 1.73 movements per week. With Psyllium, only those with IBS-C saw a significant increase in bowel movements.

How does kiwi fruit help with constipation?

Kiwi fruit can help to aid constipation in numerous ways. Firstly, it has a high fibre content. On average, a kiwi fruit has 2.3g of fibre in every 100g. This is important for softening the stools and encouraging regular bowel movements.

They also contain a digestive enzyme known as actinidin, known to break down proteins and ensure food moves smoothly throughout the digestive system. Finally, kiwi fruits contain up to 80% water, providing an excellent source of hydration. This too is important as it prevents the stools from becoming hard and dry.

When to seek help for constipation

While this latest research is compelling, kiwi fruits should not be used as an alternative to traditional medication. There are many different causes of constipation, and it may point to an underlying issue.

If you experience constipation for weeks at a time, and you also experience abdominal cramping, you should seek medical advice. While increasing your consumption of kiwi fruits may help to eradicate functional constipation, you should still seek medical advice if symptoms persist.

According to statistics, each year, over 41,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Cancer of the colon can develop at any age, though it does tend to be more prevalent in older adults.

Beginning as a non-cancerous clump of cells known as polyps, over time some of these cells turn cancerous. Unfortunately, there tends to be very few symptoms in the early stages of the condition, which makes screening for the disease essential.

Although colon cancer can affect anyone, there are some risk factors to be aware of. Here, we look at the risk factors of colon cancer everyone should know.

What causes colon cancer?

In most colon cancer cases; the cause is unknown. What is known is that the cancer develops due to the mutation of healthy cells within the colon. When the DNA of the cell’s changes, they continue to reproduce even when they aren’t needed. This causes them to clump together, forming a tumour.

As the cancer cells multiply, they invade and eradicate healthy tissue, and spread to other areas of the body.

What are the risk factors of colon cancer?

While the exact cause might not be known, there are risk factors associated with colon cancer. They include:

  • Age
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions
  • African American race
  • Inherited syndromes
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices

Colon cancer tends to develop in older adults, aged 50 or over. However, there has been a recent shift with rising cases in younger adults developing. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis also increase the risk, alongside inherited syndromes such as Lynch Syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP).

If you are obese, your risk of developing colon cancer is increased, and there is a greater chance of dying from the disease, compared to those of a healthy weight. Smokers and those who drink excessive levels of alcohol are also at risk.

Understanding the risks is key to ensuring you are protecting yourself against colon cancer. While you can’t always prevent the cancer from developing, making certain lifestyle changes can help to minimise the risk.

Reducing your risk of colon cancer

If you want to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer, there are things you can do. Studies have revealed that a plant-based diet can greatly help to reduce the risk of colon cancer, though not all plant diets are made equal.

Healthy plant-based foods to include in your cancer-prevention diet include wholegrains, nuts, unsaturated oils, and legumes. These foods help to keep your digestive tract healthy and functioning as it should.

Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and monitoring your alcohol consumption are other ways to reduce the risks.

Colon cancer is common, and it can’t always be prevented. However, by understanding the risks, it gives you the opportunity to make any necessary changes to protect against this deadly disease.

Acid reflux is a common condition that is said to affect up to 20% of the population. In some cases, it flares up occasionally, while in others it remains a consistent, ongoing problem.
While it isn’t usually serious, the condition can cause uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms. In some cases, symptoms may be experienced daily, impacting the patient’s quality of life.

You can experience a bout of acid reflux at any time of year. However, it does tend to be more prevalent in the winter months. So, how can you avoid acid reflux this winter? Find out everything you need to know to protect yourself below…

Increase your Vitamin D consumption

In winter, we tend to spend much less time outdoors than we do for the rest of the year. This means we get a lower natural dose of vitamin D from sunlight.

When you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, it can relax the oesophageal sphincter, making it easier for stomach acid to get back into the oesophagus. This triggers the symptoms of acid reflux.

By getting outdoors more and taking a high-quality supplement, you can increase your Vitamin D intake.

Avoid acid reflux by resisting junk food

It’s easier to follow an unhealthy diet in winter. The colder weather encourages us to turn to comfort food such as cakes, spicy food, and chocolate. While they may make you feel good temporarily, these foods are known to trigger heartburn. In turn, they can cause acid reflux to worsen.

Try and maintain a healthy diet throughout the winter months. A little indulgence is fine, but too much will lead to frequent acid reflux flare ups.

Limit your alcohol consumption

As Christmas approaches, it’s common to increase our alcohol consumption. The odd festive tipple is fine, but if you drink excessively, you are going to experience more frequent bouts of acid reflux. Alcohol itself is acidic, and it is one of the most common contributing factors to acid reflux.

If you limit your alcohol intake, you should see your acid reflux clear up.

Seeking treatment for acid reflux

While the tips above can help to avoid acid reflux this winter, they may not eradicate it completely. This is especially true if the root cause is not linked to your diet. It is important to understand the cause of the condition to treat it effectively. For example, if it is caused by a hernia or an ulcer, you will need to treat them to eliminate the acid reflux. Or, if the condition is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), surgery may be required.

For those struggling with constant acid reflux symptoms that don’t clear up, other treatment options may be available. Book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today to determine the best course of treatment to eradicate the symptoms.

Most of us don’t give much thought to our gallbladder in our day to day lives. Responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid in digestion, this vital organ typically functions well without cause for concern. However, problems with the gallbladder do occur, and can lead to serious health issues.

Knowing how to spot a gallbladder issue early will ensure it doesn’t turn into something more sinister. Here, you’ll discover some of the most common gallbladder problems to be aware of, and what to do if you have one.

Common gallbladder problems

Getting to know the most common gallbladder issues ensures you can catch them early if they do occur. Here’s a look at some common gallbladder problems you may experience…


Gallstones are by far one of the most common gallbladder problems. Stones of various sizes are created from excess levels of cholesterol and bilirubin. In more than 90% of cases, patients don’t experience any symptoms. However, they may cause some level of pain or discomfort.

Gallstones that do cause symptoms, have typically been in the gallbladder for up to 10 years.

Perforated gallbladder

A perforated gallbladder is a serious problem that could prove life threatening. It occurs due to untreated inflammation, and will typically cause severe, sharp pain as it bursts. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever, and jaundice.

If you experience a perforated gallbladder, you will need emergency surgery to remove it.

Biliary Colic

While most of the time gallstones don’t cause any symptoms, they can potentially block bile from reaching the small intestine. This results in bursts of severe pain known as biliary colic. The pain is caused by vigorous contractions of the gallbladder as it tries to unblock the stones.

The pain will last for around one to five hours, and the pain may linger on for 24 hours or more. Some patients find that biliary colic episodes come on after eating a fatty or large meal.

Inflamed gallbladder

The gallbladder can become inflamed due to infections, excessive alcohol use, and rarely tumours. Sometimes, gallbladder polyps form due to cholesterol deposits in the gallbladder wall. However, 95% polys are typically small and benign.

The most common cause of inflammation is gallstones. They can irritate the walls of the gallbladder, causing them to become inflamed and sore. Occasionally, it can lead to an infection, but most of the time it will ease within a few hours or days.

What to do if you suspect a gallbladder problem

Gallbladder symptoms usually start with pain in the upper right or centre of the abdominal area. If you have been experiencing any symptoms that are causing concern, you should book an appointment with your doctor. Gallstones don’t always require removal, but your surgeon will organise a scan and can recommend treatment options.

Gallbladder removal is a straightforward procedure, and the body can function well without one. Book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today to have your gallbladder problem assessed, and to start an appropriate treatment plan.

Long COVID is typically associated with shortness of breath and fatigue. However, did you know it can also impact your digestive system?

An increasing number of people are displaying gastrointestinal symptoms as a result of having the condition. Here, we analyse recent research into Long COVID and its effect on the digestive system.

What does the latest research say?

In April 2022, a study was carried out to determine the link between long covid and gastrointestinal symptoms. It involved 1,114 participants who took a two-part internet survey. All participants had tested positive for COVID-19.

It was discovered that gastrointestinal symptoms were a risk factor for severe COVID cases. Out of the 164 participants who completed the second phase of the study, 66% of them had at least one gastrointestinal symptom.

Additional research in March this year, discovered 16% of 147 patients who had never had a gastrointestinal problem, reported a new digestive symptom. These symptoms typically started within 100 days of developing a COVID infection.

The most prevalent symptoms reported include:

Certainly, the fact that multiple studies have shown an increase in gastrointestinal problems in Long COVID patients points to a strong link. So, what is causing it?

Why does Long COVID affect the digestive system?

The exact reason why so many Long COVID patients are developing issues of the digestive system isn’t fully known. However, there are some theories.

When the SARS-COV2 virus invades cells, it uses receptors within the body. The gut lining is home to many of these receptors. The issues could also be caused by the inflammation caused by the virus. This can upset the bacteria that live within the gut, stimulating the nerves of the gastrointestinal system.

Treating issues of the digestive system

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues caused by COVID, making sure you drink plenty of fluids and eating a healthy diet can help. Avoiding processed foods and following a Mediterranean diet, that is rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, is recommended to manage the symptoms.

Whether Long COVID is the cause of your issues or not, seeking treatment for gastrointestinal problems early is important. When left untreated, they can go on to worsen and trigger other health problems.

If you are experiencing any digestive issues, book a consultation with Mr Woodward. After assessing the symptoms, he will recommend a treatment plan to help you get them under control.

A prospective cohort study has revealed that fish oil may protect against IBD and ulcerative colitis. Researchers used data from the UK Biobank to determine whether the oil has any protective benefits against the condition.

So, could fish oil be the secret to preventing and managing IBD? Let’s look at what the latest study found and what it may mean for patients…

Fish oil supplements show reduced risk of IBD

The latest prospective cohort study analysed data from 447,890 patients aged 40-69. The data ranged from the years 2006-2017. During an eight year follow up period, there were 1,646 IBD cases reported, which included 533 Crohn’s disease cases, and 1,185 ulcerative colitis (UC) cases.

The researchers discovered that when compared to non-use, taking fish oil supplements reduced the risk of IBD and UC. However, there wasn’t any evidence to suggest fish oil supplements reduced the risk of Crohn’s disease.

All those who took fish oil supplements had reduced baseline CPR levels, alongside increased baseline albumin levels.

Although this research does show fish oil can help protect against IBD, larger studies now need to be conducted to confirm the findings.

How does fish oil impact the symptoms of IBD?

There have been conflicting findings over whether fish oil can help control the symptoms of IBD. In particular, there is little evidence it can help with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

In cases where fish oil has helped to manage the symptoms of IBD, it is thought to be down to its Omega 3 fatty acids. They help to reduce inflammation, which is common in patients with IBD. Reducing the inflammation of the digestive tract would automatically help to ease some of the symptoms of the disease.

This again calls for further, larger studies to be carried out. Currently there is conflicting evidence, with some small studies even suggesting fish oil has no impact on IBD symptoms.

Should I use fish oil to manage my IBD?

There is no harm in taking fish oil supplements, and they do boast other fantastic health benefits. However, before taking any supplement you should always consult your doctor. Taking fish oil supplements alone also isn’t a recommended treatment for IBD.

Although there is no cure for IBD, there are treatment options available to manage the symptoms. These include making dietary changes, taking antibiotics and medications, and surgery to remove or repair any damage caused by the condition.

If you suspect you have IBD, book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward.


After the recent passing of Dame Deborah James to bowel cancer, her popular podcast ‘You, Me, and the Big C’, has won a top award. Focusing on living with cancer and its treatment, the podcast helped to break new ground by discussing the realities of cancer and the struggles patients go through.

Deborah highlighted her own experiences and urged others to ‘check their poo’ in a bid to catch bowel cancer early. Co-presenter Lauren Mahon accepted The Podcast Champion award and stated she would be continuing to champion the cause.

Raising awareness of bowel cancer

Dame Deborah James was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in December 2016 when she was just 35 years old. Nicknamed Bowelbabe, she went on to raise £7.4 million for charity and worked tirelessly to raise awareness of bowel cancer, becoming a patron of Bowel Cancer UK.

One of the most common types of cancer in the UK, the exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown. While it typically occurs with older age, it has become much more prevalent in younger patients in recent years. Most commonly affecting the large section of bowel, the odds of beating it rely upon early detection.

NHS see surge in symptom checker use

After the death of Dame Deborah James, the NHS saw a surge in the use of their online symptom checker. Over 23,000 visitors headed to the symptom checker website to look for the symptoms of bowel cancer. This is compared to around 2,000 the day before the podcast host passed away.

Speaking of the impact Deborah had on the nation, former health secretary, Sajid Javid, stated:

Having lost my father to bowel cancer, I know how devastating this disease can be, and we must continue to break down barriers around what she called the ‘C’ word – encouraging people to have open and honest discussions. Our upcoming 10-year cancer plan will build on this with a focus on early diagnosis to help save more lives.

There is no denying that Dame Deborah James helped to educate and raise awareness of bowel cancer. Being aware of the symptoms and breaking down the stigma helps others to spot the symptoms early and seek the treatment they need.

The importance of early treatment

Identifying bowel cancer early is key to treating it successfully. Unfortunately, tests are typically carried out on the NHS for patients aged 60 and over. This leaves younger patients more at risk of developing late-stage bowel cancer before it is detected.

By knowing what symptoms to watch out for, patients can get checked over by a doctor at any age. The main symptoms include bleeding from the bottom, changes in your poo, extreme fatigue, and abdominal pain.

For patients who are concerned about their risk, a colonoscopy can help to detect the early stages of bowel cancer. Undergoing this simple but effective test ensures patients get the diagnosis they need to provide speedy treatment.

To book a colonoscopy, get in touch with Mr Alan Woodward today.

Also known as an endoscopy, a gastroscopy is used to diagnose a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. Straightforward and painless, over a million procedures are performed in the UK each year.

So, why might you need a gastroscopy? And what can you expect from the procedure? Find out everything you need to know in this useful blog.

Why might you need a gastroscopy?

Your digestive system runs from your mouth, all the way down to your back passage. This long and complex system can be affected by a wide range of conditions that aren’t always easy to spot. A gastroscopy helps doctors to diagnose these conditions, ensuring you get the treatment you need to fix them.

A gastroscopy involves inserting a long thin tube with a tiny camera attached, through the mouth and into the throat. Just some of the reasons you may be recommended to undergo the procedure include:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Long-term stomach pain

The procedure gets to the bottom of any digestive issues you are having, helping to identify the best course of treatment.

How is a gastroscopy different from an endoscopy?

Technically a gastroscopy and endoscopy are the same thing. However, a gastroscopy is always inserted into the throat. An endoscopy on the other hand, can be inserted via the mouth or the anus. A gastroscopy is therefore a type of endoscopic procedure.

What to expect from a gastroscopy

Undergoing a gastroscopy can understandably be daunting for patients. However, the good news is that it is a quick, painless, and straightforward procedure.

A throat spray or sedation can be provided for maximum comfort as you will be kept awake while it is being carried out. The endoscope is then inserted into the mouth and down the throat. You’ll have no trouble breathing while it is being done as it isn’t inserted into the windpipe.

As the tube travels down the digestive tract, your doctor will be able to see everything that is going on. Gas is pumped into the stomach and the doctor may need to carry out a biopsy for further diagnosis.

The entire procedure isn’t painful, but you may feel some discomfort such as bloating from the gas pumped into the stomach. Complications are very rare but include bleeding and perforation.

What can you expect after the procedure?

Once the procedure has been completed, you will be taken into a recovery room to ensure you are well enough to return home. It is recommended you have somebody come and pick you up rather than trying to drive yourself home.

You may experience some difficulty while eating for a few days, so sticking to a soft diet will help. The results of the test will be provided usually within a few days.

If you need a gastroscopy to identify the cause of your digestive issues, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.


Exercise has long been known to provide a plethora of benefits for our physical and mental health. Now, a new study has revealed that even moderate amounts of physical activity can help to prevent deadly diseases such as bowel cancer.

Published in the International Journal of Cancer, the latest study reveals exactly how exercise helps to reduce the risk of getting the disease. Here, we will look at what the study found and why becoming more active is key to staying healthy.

The latest bowel cancer study

The latest study was carried out by researchers from the York St John and Newcastle universities. A prospective, two-site, controlled, and randomised trial was carried out on 16 men. They ranged in age from 50-80, and each had lifestyle risk factors of bowel cancer.

The men were split into two groups, with one group undergoing six 5-minute indoor cycling intervals with a 60% heart rate reserve. The other group carried out no exercise and instead enjoyed 60 minutes of seated rest while the other group were exercising. Human serum was collected before and after exercise to measure any exercise-induced changes in intracellular protein expression and serum cytokines.

It was revealed that exercise increased the levels of blood IL-6 protein. When blood was taken right after exercise, it helped to slow down cancer cells while also reducing the amount of DNA damage caused.

Speaking of the findings, Exercise Physiology lecturer from the Newcastle University, Dr Sam Orange, states:

“Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk, as the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it. Our findings support this idea.”

What type of exercise is better at preventing cancer?

While all types of exercise can help to reduce the risk of cancer, cardio tends to be one of the most effective. This gets the heart rate up, and it also leads to the production of higher levels of blood IL-6 protein.

Carrying out exercise multiple times a week can provide protection against several forms of the disease, including bowel cancer. What was most interesting about the new study was that it showed exercise has benefits at reducing the risk of cancer far beyond weight loss.

Detect bowel cancer early

While this new study could lead to the development of new treatments and aid in the prevention of bowel cancer, this could take a while. It is also worth noting that not all cases of bowel cancer can be prevented. The best way to detect bowel cancer early is to be regularly screened.

There are numerous ways to screen for bowel cancer, but a colonoscopy is one of the most effective. This common and painless procedure helps to detect any changes within the large colon and rectum. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to arrange a colonoscopy, or you can seek a referral from your GP.

Did you know bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK? According to Bowel Cancer UK, approximately 268,000 people are currently living with the disease. It is the fourth most common type of cancer, yet many patients know very little about what it is or the signs to watch out for.

Like any type of cancer, detecting the early signs of bowel cancer is crucial. One way to ensure you catch it as early as possible is to undergo a colonoscopy. Here, you’ll discover what a colonoscopy is, alongside what to expect if you do undergo one.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is performed to detect abnormal changes within the large colon and rectum. It is a common diagnostic procedure carried out on thousands of patients each year and it can help to detect a range of conditions early.

The procedure isn’t usually painful, but it may cause some level of discomfort. For this reason, you may request a sedative if preferred. However, if you do choose this option, keep in mind that you won’t be able to drive for around 24 hours. This means you will need somebody to come and pick you up after the procedure.

How is it performed?

On the day of your colonoscopy, you will be required to fast for a set period of time. The surgeon will let you know when you need to stop drinking and eating. To ensure the bowels are empty during the procedure, a laxative will typically be provided. This helps the surgeon to get a better look at what is going on inside the bowel.

During a colonoscopy procedure, a long flexible tube with a tiny camera attached is placed into the rectum. This is known as a colonoscope, and it helps the surgeon to get a good view of what is happening in the rectum and large colon. Once the tube has been inserted, air is used to open the bowels. This may cause a bloated feeling, or you may feel like you need the toilet.

It takes around 30-45 minutes to undergo a colonoscopy, but you may be at the clinic for up to 2 hours in total.

Is a colonoscopy only used to detect bowel cancer?

No, a colonoscopy can be used to detect a variety of conditions. If your doctor has recommended you undergo the procedure, it could be down to any of the following reasons:

  • To investigate changes in bowel habits
  • To detect any growths within the bowels
  • To check for conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, or ulcerative colitis

Most people who undergo a colonoscopy don’t have bowel cancer. However, if it is cancer, the procedure can help to catch it early, improving the prognosis.

If you have been recommended a colonoscopy, contact Mr Woodward today. Although it can be worrying, the procedure is straightforward and painless. It can also help to provide peace of mind and ensure you get the treatment you need whatever the problem turns out to be.

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