Good digestive health is partly in your own hands, but progress in diagnosis, treatment and dietary knowledge mean that gastroenterologists can help more than ever before.

Endoscopy means tissue for research is readily available so with advances in genetics, immunology and related sciences our understanding of gastro-intestinal disorders is developing fast.

In particular, new research is uncovering the potential importance of the microbiome in gastrointestinal health. The microbiome, the collective name for the largely uncharted sea of bacteria in the bowel, is likely to play a significant role in causing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Advanced imaging equipment used in screening campaigns is lowering your chance of dying from colorectal cancer - but only if you choose to undergo the screening.

Awareness of gut health is the way forward

Dietary studies are also advancing treatment. People with IBS who experience altered bowel habit and bloating may be helped by a diet low in FODMAPS (food chemicals that promote watery stools and flatulence). Gastro-oesophageal reflux (heartburn and regurgitation) can be helped by avoiding fatty foods and excess alcohol.

Diet is also used to treat coeliac disease. This condition is under-recognised but is readily detected by a blood test. Campaigns to increase awareness and lead to earlier diagnosis are underway.

If you respect your gut and liver the healthier they will be. Maintaining a healthy weight and observing the lower alcohol consumption guidelines introduced in January 2016 should help combat the growth in hepatic conditions that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Awareness of gut health, coupled with early action and early diagnosis in response to ongoing stomach, bowel and intestinal problems, is the way forward for patients and professionals.