The facts of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract which affects up to 20% of people worldwide. It affects both men and women but about two-thirds of sufferers are female. The symptoms include recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort. Changes in bowel habit, including diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating and cramps. For women PMS symptoms are more intense. For many sufferers, the pain, discomfort and inconvenience can also affect them psychologically and emotionally. Symptoms of IBS can come and go, often intensifying during times of stress or after eating certain foods. For some, episodes can be weekly or daily and severity can range from mild acute discomfort to a debilitating chronic illness.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is still unknown. Fair ups result form a number of different possibilities including: a change in your body’s ability to move food through your digestive system, increased sensitivity of nerves to pain signals from your gut, very mild inflammation, overgrowth of bacteria in the small bowel, or changes in the types of bacteria that are most commonly found in the large bowel. Stress is often linked to IBS but it is not believed to be the cause, but rather a trigger or something that exacerbates symptoms. Stress can create a vicious circle where symptoms cause stress and stress worsens symptoms. Some studies have shown that patients with chronic emotional stress are more likely to develop symptoms compatible with IBS in the future.
How do you manage it?
So You can go to your Doctor and get the prescriptions that are available, however that does not seem to be the answer for many people. One of the biggest issues with that approach is that there are many unwanted side affects. Such as: Constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, and many more. Your already feeling like your body has been taken over so why take something that is going to cause it to feel more pain and discomfort?
Natural IBS helpers
Good news for those who want to use what the good Lord has provided for us. There are many things that you can get in your local grocery or health food store. Better than that there are foods that can be add to you daily food intake to help ease the symptoms. Lets go through the list of natural helpers.
- Acidophilus Plus: Also known as probiotic, these little healthy bacterial micro bugs help the body in so many ways. Healthy digestion starts with having enough of these in the gut to help breakdown food and adsorb nutrients. Studies show that probiotics can be particularly useful in treating diarrhea, since diarrhea flush all of your healthy bacteria out of the gut. Research published in 2002 showed that the L Casei and L. Acidophillus strains of bacteria helped to treat bacterial growth-related diarrhoea. Probiotic work best when used over a continuous period of time.
- Turmeric (Curcumin): Clinical studies have shown that turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and so is thought to help reduce inflammation of the bowel. Since the main source of pain in for IBS is inflammation that causes the nerves to fire and cramp, turmeric helps with pain relief.
- Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins are manufactured in the small intestine and are often lost during bouts of diarrhea. The B vitamins are particularly important for IBS sufferers, who often suffer from depression, as they help brain function. One of the less common issues with IBS is the fatigue that comes and goes. Vitamin B helps to boost the energy levels without jiggles or the irritation of caffeine.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a strong antioxidant and a typical dosage range is between 500 to 2,000 milligrams a day. Also known as ascorbic acid, this vitamin has a laxative effect so it is a option for those who have constipation.
- Vitamin E: An unique antioxidant contains a lubricating oil which is thought to prevent constipation and also has a soothing and calming effect on the bowel, helping to reduce inflammation.
- EFAs: Over 3,000 scientific studies now show that EFAs have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and are therefore thought to help reduce inflammation in the bowel.
- Flaxseed Oil: This natural lubricant is high in fiber. Is thought to help prevent constipation and contains EFAs.
- Peppermint Oil: A powerful aromatic herb has the ability to relax the muscles of the digestive tract. Has the ability to decrease excessive spasms of the digestive tract provides relief from pain and discomfort. This soothing effect is well documented in research literature.
- Zinc: Helps the body to produce stomach acid to help with the digestive process before it get to the intestines - important if you are low in stomach acid. If you have acid reflex to go with your IBS then that is a sign that you have a unbalanced amount of stomach acid.
- Fennel oil and fennel tea: If you have an upset stomach, diarrhea or any digestive issues, try adding one to two drops of fennel essential oil to a cup of peppermint tea and slowly sip. It can help relieve digestive problems quickly. However it should be avoided by people who are allergic to carrot, celery or mugworth - they all belong to the Apiaceae family of plants.
- Cat’s Claw: Derived from the bark of a tree which grows in Peru. This herb is used for cleaning the intestines of yeast and microorganisms. It can be taken in 60 mg capsules 3 times a day or boil one gram of bark in a cup of water for 15 minutes.
- Ginger Root: Traditional remedy for treating an upset stomach.
- Pomegranate Seed strengthens digestive activity by improving intestinal movement and gastric secretions and providing antioxidants.
IBS Diet Suggestions:
- Eat all cooked vegetables, except perhaps cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli – which might cause cramping/gas.
- Some people might have problems with melons, apples, and citrus fruits.
- Some IBS patients benefit from increasing the fiber content of their diet. When it comes to fiber, increase this slowly and ensure a water intake of 1.5-2L/day.
- Bran fiber may aggravate some symptoms of IBS so take it slow.
- Usually people with IBS can tolerate bread, pasta, rice, bagels, and crackers, in any variety including rye, whole wheat, white, gluten free, etc. Some find seeds challenging. Gluten may cause flair up as well so you may want to try to eat gluten free.
- Dairy products only cause problems for people who are lactose intolerant, so enjoy these products freely. If you have lactose intolerance as well as IBS, you could try lactose-free products or a Lactaid® pill.
- Enjoy all meat, chicken and fish.
- Heavily spiced, sauced, or fried foods so be careful and see how they affect uou.
- For the foods that are potential IBS symptom triggers for you, try introducing them back into your diet by having a small portion and choosing only one trigger food at a time. If you find that you have any flair ups after adding that food to your diet then you know that you should avoid that food.
- A good trick for some people is to take 1-3 tsp or three capsules of a soluble fibee supplement before a potential trigger meal. The supplement may protect against developing symptoms. Be sure to go slowly when adding fiber to your diet.
- Prepare foods by grilling, broiling, baking, or steaming with little to no oil. Try using a cooking spray in place of oil. Never fry foods, the oils and free radicals can cause swelling and irritation in the bowels.
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IBS and Exercise: Fitness and Relaxation Options
Exercise is a great way to help manage stress and to increase blood flow. When you increase blood flow then swelling is less likely to occur. By managing stress you don't have excess amounts of cortisol that build up in your system which is a major trigger for IBS. Exercise also releases natural pain killers in the body and health to create healthy mental health
- Cardiovascular exercise: Aerobic exercises, such as biking or walking, improve your overall health and fitness and are great ways to release tension.
- Breathing exercises: By taking in deep breaths from the abdomen to get as much air as possible into your lungs, you are able to increase the amount of oxygen you breathe in, which makes you feel less tense.
- Yoga: There are many different types of yoga, but all involve combining breathing with stationary and moving poses. For maximum relaxation benefits, look for yoga classes that mention the words "gentle" or "stress relief," or look for beginner classes. If you want to focus more on fitness, you may want to move up to classes with more intense poses, as you get more comfortable with the technique.
- Tai chi: This is a “mind-body” exercise that began as a martial art in China. During tai chi, you move slowly while taking deep breaths and meditating. People who practice tai chi say it helps their digestive system work better and makes them feel calmer and more aware.
- Meditation: There are many types of meditation exercises, but in all of them, you sit comfortably and focus your attention on one thing, such as a particular sound or your breathing.
IBS and Exercise: A More Effective Routine
When you start an exercise program for fitness, relaxation, or both, you will want to make sure you get the maximum benefit from it. Try these tips for a more effective and more enjoyable exercise program:
- Exercise at the same time each day, and choose a time that is easy for you to stick to.
- Avoid exercising within an hour before or after eating.
- Choose an exercise that you enjoy and that fits in with your way of life.