Irritable Bowel Syndrome: it’s an affliction that affects millions of people worldwide (including one in five Americans) every day – causing chronic pain and driving those who suffer with it to their wits end.
But what if I was to tell you there is a way to kick IBS in the guts without resorting to prescription drugs and chemicals?
Here are my top seven tips to showing IBS the door naturally.
1. ELIMINATE ALLERGENS
Anyone who knows me will be able to tell you that I am not a fan of gluten! With our guts not designed to break down the protein (gluten destroys the gut lining), eradicating it from your diet can be a simple yet effective way of curing IBS – fast! Present in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt, gluten pops up everywhere, including in bread, cereal, pasta, sauces, crackers, cakes, pastries, tortillas and beer, amongst other foods. When removing gluten from your diet to help reduce IBS therefore, it is critical to ascertain exactly what items need to be avoided in order to give your gut the true break it deserves.
Other such common allergens include dairy, yeast, eggs, corn, soy and nuts. If you get no relief from boycotting gluten (make sure you cut it out for at least six weeks), eliminating one of these other food groups from your diet (and then reintroducing each one over a period of 12 weeks), can also be an effective way to ascertain if your IBS has a trigger. And remember – whatever you eat, always ensure it is high quality, organic and unprocessed.
2. GO PROBIOTIC
When it comes to gut health, it is vital that the natural flora in the stomach is allowed to thrive. As we already know, our immune systems are connected to our gut and when our gut is not happy, our whole body is not happy. Unfortunately however, certain life stressors such as anxiety, prescription drugs, chlorinated water, farmed meat, and processed food etc. can throw off the natural bacteria in our bodies, inflaming the lining of the gut as a result.
So how to get a happy tummy? Probiotics.
Probiotics are the ‘friendly’ bacteria that keep our digestive systems healthy. Natural probiotics include sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, kombucha, tempeh and kimchi. Apple cider vinegar is also great for ‘good’ bacteria. If you cannot get your hands on any of these foods, a good quality probiotic supplement can work equally as well.
3. OIL UP
Essential oils are one of nature’s most potent medicines. Did you know that frankincense can help to reduce inflammation in the body – boosting the immune system and supporting the human emotional and nervous core? Until Laurentine and I made the Food Matters documentary, neither did we!
Did you also know that peppermint oil can calm muscle spasms in the gut, while tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander and anise can together soothe stomachaches and reduce bloating? Essential oils are capable of so much, and their amazing healing properties in relation to IBS are no exception.
4. FEED ON FIBER
Taking additional fiber to keep your bowel functioning can be very effective at reducing IBS systems. Organic psyllium is the best in this regard in my view – adapting to the needs of the digestive system as they arise. Alternatively, a few tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds taken daily can work wonders.
5. TREAT YOUR MIND
When it comes to the physical manifestation of our inner minds, our guts tend to be a primary outlet. Many people with unresolved emotional conflict and tension present with IBS, and therefore treating the mind can be just as important as treating the body. Yoga, meditation and exercise are three such ways to help cleanse the mind and work through inner turmoil, and can make an immense difference to gut health.
6. MAP YOUR DIET
Recent research has shown that a group of gassy carbohydrates called FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) significantly contribute to IBS. It is therefore arguably possible to reduce the symptoms of IBS by avoiding these foods. The program is known as the Low FODMAP Diet and is now recommended as one of the most effective dietary therapies for IBS. Foods to avoid include apples, onions, milk, beans and mushrooms.
7. AMEND YOUR EATING REGIME
Eating small portions slowly and regularly can help reduce the impact and strain on the gut. In doing so, IBS symptoms can be greatly decreased. Sounds easy? It is.