Gut health is quite the craze on virtually every social media platform, but especially TikTok. The hashtag “#GutTok” has 500 million+ views on videos under the tag, and gut-related videos in general have amassed to over one billion views. So what’s behind this “gut-tastic” trend?
TikTok and other forms of short form media — Youtube shorts and Instagram reels, for example — make it increasingly accessible and efficient to learn tips, tricks, recipes, and other gut healthy hacks from people in similar situations as them. People who experience symptoms like severe bloating or suffer from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can easily share their experiences and things that help them to the masses.
Other popular hashtags on the app include #IBStiktok and #hotgirlswithIBS. What might have once been embarrassing to talk about is now proving to be trendy on TikTok, giving girls and others battling gut issues a safe space to seek help.
Health and wellness brands have also started to to notice the heightened interest and traffic that gut content gets. They’ve realized that they have a seat at the table when it comes to consumers who are looking for therapies to aid their healing, beyond just general diet and lifestyle products. Content creators are also seeing great opportunity for brand deals and sharing products they find useful for their own gut healing.
For example, Thorne, a popular evidence-based supplement and wellness company, has launched gut health tests that don’t involve stool collection. “You get a lot of information from doing these gut health tests, but one issue is that the collection process just isn’t the greatest experience,” says Nathan Price, chief scientific officer at Thorne, in an interview with CNBC.
As an alternative, Thorne offers a microbiome wipe that is used like toilet paper — except it’s shipped off for testing. “It’s just like what you do every single day,” adds Price. More appealing ways of testing like this may be the future for gut health companies and consumers desiring to get an idea of their bacteria, especially for Tiktok creators and viewers.
On the other hand, gastroenterologists and other experts don’t all agree that these tests are necessary. They worry Tiktok consumers seeing them being promoted may get the wrong idea for their needs. This is because the body will usually signal when something is wrong through problems like acne, constipation, mood, sleep issues, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or other noticeable symptoms.
For many, it’s recommended to focus on addressing the diet first when gut issues are present. Christopher Damman, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Health Center at the University of Washington Medical Center, and chief medical and science Officer at Supergut, recommends focusing on whole foods. This includes ensuring high fiber, fermented foods, and healthy fats make up a significant portion of the diet.
Supplements can help fill necessary gaps, but the primary focus should be food. Luckily, TikTok creators continue to post plenty of content daily geared toward alleviating unhealthy gut symptoms without tests or supplements. As always, though, be sure to contact a health professional or dietitian before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.