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Gastrointestinal Society dedicated to help military and veteran families

In a recent article released by the GI Society, gastrointestinal (GI) and liver conditions affect approximately 60 per cent of the Canadian population. Often, long-standing stress can take a toll on one’s body and those afflicted with any number of GI conditions, stress can bring about symptoms.

“In the article, we provided for the Transition Issue of the Canadian Military Family Magazine, we focused it on stress and the gut because perhaps stress is a really high component of military families, but there are so many other things we cover for individuals,” said Gail Attara, President of the GI Society. “Even if they have like mild heartburn and how to deal with that. We have many resources that we can share, and that’s the heart of what we do.”

Living the military lifestyle can be stressful as the majority of us know, so to combat the stress and minimize the chances of symptoms flaring up, the GI Society suggests finding effective stress management strategies. Attara also said their website is a fantastic resource for anyone seeking information about anything from the ‘gum to the bum.’

When readers visit the www.badgut.org site, they can request information in the format that works best for them. “For example, if they were to call us and want us to mail it, we’ll do that. If they e-mail us and want us to make an e-mail package for them in PDF and send it to them that way.”

Over the years, Attara said they’d had an increasing number of requests for printed material, and their website receives around 1.5 million hits per month. In one year, the GI Society will deliver up to 650,000 pamphlets and any information requested is always free of charge.

“This means people are looking for that kind of information in private,” she noted.

Their most popular article you ask? Surprisingly, Attara said it happens to be ‘The Colour of My Poop.’

“We get so many hits on that, it’s remarkable. I can’t believe that but I mean someone’s concerned if his or her poop turns blue,” she laughed. “It’s probably the blueberries they ate.”

However, Attara said sometimes we don’t think about what we ate last. It’s not just about the colour though, and she noted that people are often curious about the way our digestive system works and how food travels and changes through our bodies.

“There are also some red flags for that too. Not necessarily red, but if your stool is a really dark colour, then definitely get that checked out because that could mean internal bleeding,” she said.

Attara noted that they haven’t been working with the military community for very long, but it has been on their hearts for a while. She believes there’s a need for their information in the military due to the high-stress nature of the job.

“My grandfather was a Captain in the Navy, and we’ve got pictures all-around of him in his uniform and all that, but aside from those kinds of things, I think those individuals are neglected,” Attara added.

While they do provide information free of charge and they are the resource hub for all things GI, Attara said they often sit around the board table and ask themselves, ‘What can we do next?’ In a recent initiative, Attara said they put together an event called Painting the Toilet Seats.

“We had a 13-year-old boy there who had one of these diseases, you know, he’s painting these toilet seats and he painted a little joke. Here you have this 13-year-old boy in the midst of this disease and what does he paint? He paints a little joke!” said Attara.

“Why did the toilet paper roll down the hill? To get to the bottom.”

“To see that we’re in the lives of these people and that they’re just doing stuff,” Attara added. “We’re not in it because we all want to work for a whole lot more money, but we’re working for a charity because everybody who works here has the heart for that and so I think that anybody who sent over for stuff, we will be helping them.”

If you would like to find out about how you can receive free information from the GI Society or see what else they have in the works, please visit www.badgut.org.

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