5 Simple Strategies for IBS Sufferers
Approximately 1 in 5 Americans suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). That’s about 60 million people!
And...I am one of them. So this hits close to home. My mother and grandmother also suffered from IBS and most patients that I coach in my practice do as well.
So...I thought I would share some simple strategies that may be helpful to you or anyone you know who suffers from IBS.
What is IBS?
IBS sufferers typically report one of the following symptoms: bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain (relieved with bowel movements), and/or a sense of incomplete bowel movements. Some not so obvious symptoms include fatigue, headaches, vomiting, and nausea.
So what causes IBS? IBS is actually inflammation of the digestive tract. And what are the common causes of inflammation? STRESS!
When we think of stress we tend to think of having to turn in a project for work, or rushing to an appointment, or even the task of paying bills.
However, there are three categories of stress that affect the body (and it's not just mental). The three types of stress are:
The food we eat today is not what it was 50 years ago. It’s loaded with chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, and antibiotics that cause irritation and inflammation to the gut. Did you ever stop to consider what really goes into your food?
We are often overwhelmed with not doing enough, moving up the corporate ladder, and feeling not good enough because society tells us who we are suppose to be today. Emotional stress stimulates the production of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone, which is detrimental to the gut lining. The body responds to emotional stress as it does to physical stress with the difference that over a long period of time it will destroy the gut lining, which is also a protective barrier and necessary for bacteria balance.
Physical trauma to the digestive tract results in turning on a cascade of inflammatory mechanisms. Examples would include not properly digesting food, a lack of digestive enzymes to break down the food, and even a lack of exercise have adverse effects on the digestive tract.
What can I do to improve IBS?
1. Ditch the coffee and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are GI irritants. It would be best to eliminate all caffeine for a month and try to work organic coffee/caffeine back into your diet and see how your body responds. I would not recommend any alcohol at all.
2. Cut out dairy, gluten, and sugar
Most people who suffer from IBS are very sensitive to gluten, which includes wheat, oats, rye, and barley products. I would suggest to also remove non-gluten grains such as brown rice and quinoa for a month to give your digestive system a break, and add it back into your diet to see how your body responds. Gluten is not necessary in a person's diet, therefore, I would avoid gluten at all costs!
3. Manage stress
Stress kills...really! It creates inflammation in the body and weakens the immune system as well as the gut. Therefore, you may get sick more often and take a longer time to recover. Meditation, long walks, grounding, Epsom salt baths, yoga, massages, and lots of self care are great and effective ways to help manage stress. Stress is part of life and how we handle it is everything. LOVE ON YOURSELF MORE!
4. Get moving
If you are not moving enough throughout the day neither will your digestive tract. A sluggish physical body equates to a sluggish digestive tract, which can lead to food lingering in the digestive tract too long and leading to rotting food particles in the stomach. Go for a walk in the morning, evening, and after each meal for at least 10 minutes and set a timer every hour as a reminder to get up and move.
5. Switch to organic and clean meats
Today most produce is sprayed with herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. Choose organic produce that starts with the number 9 in the code. Check out the clean fifteen and dirty dozen for the year's selected "clean" food to eat. When it comes to poultry and met, keep in mind...you are eating what the animal ate. Therefore, if you eat animal products that are being fed GMO food, are given antibiotics, and growth hormones so are you! When selecting meats, poultry and dairy, opt for organic or pasture-raised sources and if buying fish, wild-caught is the best.