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National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month – May 2023

In the United States, National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month is marked every year in May. Since matters of the gut aren’t particularly an enjoyable topic for daily conversation, digestive diseases don’t receive as much attention as other diseases. This means that many are unaware of how their digestive health can directly influence their overall well-being. People suffering from digestive diseases experience severe pain, discomfort, and personal distress. It is therefore fitting to have a month dedicated to raising awareness about how to deal with these conditions.

History of National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month

In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May as National Digestive Disease Awareness Month. He urged all government agencies and citizens of the U.S., as well as scientific, medical, educational, philanthropic, and health care organizations and professionals, to participate in activities that look into the causes and cures of various digestive diseases.

Digestive problems have been around since ancient times. Physicians in ancient Egypt devoted their care to disorders of individual organs, with gastroenterology as one of their specialties. This subject matter was found in a portion of the surviving medical records written on papyrus. These clinical accounts suggested their mastery of gastric and anorectal conditions.

Senses such as vision and smell, as well as interoceptive information (emotion and thought), can affect gastrointestinal sensation, secretion, motility, and inflammation. Thankfully, medical science has made significant advances in the field of digestive diseases research in recent years. People dealing with digestive diseases have numerous treatment options, making their lives easier.

Studies show that a healthy gut contributes to a fit brain and heart, a strong immune system, sound sleep, improved mood, and good digestion. A healthy digestive system may also help prevent some cancers and autoimmune diseases. It is therefore important to eat the right foods and maintain a balanced lifestyle to help our digestive system remain in top shape.

National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month timeline

1850s
An Instrument for the Digestive System

French surgeon Antoine Jean Desormeaux designs an instrument, which he names the ‘endoscope,’ to examine the urinary tract and bladder.

1868
The First Examination of the Stomach

German doctor Adolph Kussmaul enlists a sword swallower to test an endoscope and examine the stomach of a living person for the first time.

1958
Gut Health Experts Unite

The World Gastroenterology Organization is formed.

1977
A Holistic Approach to Understanding Medical Conditions

George Engel publishes the concept of the biopsychosocial model of illness and disease, which provides the needed framework to understand, categorize, and treat common gastrointestinal symptoms.

National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month FAQs

What is the most common type of digestive cancer?

Colorectal cancer.

What are the most common types of digestive diseases?

Cancer, infections, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.), and inflammatory bowel disease (I.B.D.) are a few of the most prevalent digestive diseases.

What are the categories of probiotic supplements?

Probiotic dietary supplements are grouped into yeast and bacteria.

How to Observe National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month

  1. Check on your gut

    Visit a gastroenterologist for a gut checkup. They will help you know the true state of your gut and what you need to do to keep it healthy.

  2. Eat healthy meals

    Healthy food should not necessarily be boring. Numerous tasty foods are great for gut health, and this month is perfect for indulging in them.

  3. Tell others

    Share about this awareness month with your friends and loved ones. Encourage them to take better care of their gut health as well.

5 Interesting Facts About The Digestive System

  1. Digestive health affects overall health

    Studies show that the gut houses about 70% to 80% of the body's immune cells.

  2. Laundry detergents mimic digestion

    Laundry detergents often contain different classes of enzymes found in the human digestive system due to their ability to break down compounds, helping remove stains.

  3. The small intestine is big

    The surface area of the small intestine is about 2,700 square feet, about the size of a tennis court.

  4. The digestive system is sensitive

    The human digestive system is prone to cancer and causes more cancer deaths than any organ system in the body.

  5. The stomach has a slimy protective armor

    To protect itself from hydrochloric acid, the stomach has a thick layer of mucus which it renews every two weeks.

Why National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month is Important

  1. It promotes good health

    National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month brings attention to ailments that are not widely talked about. It encourages people to think about how they treat their digestive systems.

  2. It is a time to treat ourselves

    It's a month to treat ourselves by doing things that support good gut health. We sleep well, exercise, and take enough water and the right food to keep our guts happy.

  3. It's great for family

    Nothing brings people together like good food. On National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month, we get to gather our families over healthy food.

National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
2023May 1Monday
2024May 1Wednesday
2025May 1Thursday
2026May 1Friday
2027May 1Saturday
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