Imagine: sitting in class, about to take a final that will determine your grade for the overall class. You’ve been up all night studying and are now only fueled by four cups of coffee and the anxiety that is keeping you focused. The professor hands you your test packet and tells you to begin when you realize nothing you have studied is on the test. Your stomach begins to churn and before you can finish writing your name on the corner of your paper you bolt out of class to the nearest bathroom.
For those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, this situation is common. Being put under a lot of stress and running your body off limited to no nutrients stiffens your ability to perform daily tasks. For some it may not take much stress to trigger the onset symptoms of IBS, such as cramping, bloating, or diarrhea. For some it might be a business meeting where you need to present your new idea, while others may struggle with taking the city bus to visit a friend. Those that suffer from IBS often turn to the avoidance technique -- instead of going to that business meeting they will call into work, or hand off their project to a co-worker. The person taking the city bus may decide to walk the 5 miles instead of sitting next to strangers for ten minutes.
While living with IBS can be a burden, it can be an amazing opportunity to become more in tune with your body and its needs where you otherwise may have not acknowledged them. The most important thing to acknowledge when treating your IBS is your diet and how the foods you eat affect you.
What To Avoid
The Three Main Triggers
There are three main triggers that most people find difficult to eliminate entirely from their lives. If it doesn't seem humanly possible to completely remove these from your diet, then cutting back and making them an occasional treat will change the way you view them.
The main three are:
Making these a treat for special occasions instead of a necessity for daily life will not only help lessen your symptoms of IBS, it will also give you more control over your body and emotions. Waking up in the morning without NEEDING a cup of coffee is an empowering feeling all in itself.
Four Food Culprits
The first step to treating your IBS symptoms is to assess your diet and determine the foods that are inflicting stress upon your body. Most sufferers of IBS find great relief when eliminating:
●Gluten and wheat products
●Eggs (in more severe cases)
While not everyone will experience complications from these foods, they tend to be the most prominent food sensitivities for IBS sufferers, and eliminating them can be a great starting point to the path of ultimate health.
Introducing Vitamins and Herbs
Before you imagine scarfing down handfuls of vitamins and supplements for breakfast, let me ease your mind by saying there are only a select few that I highly recommend in order to maintain optimal health benefits. While all vitamins from A to Zinc are an excellent way to boost your immune system and keep you feeling superb, I have pinpointed a few that are especially helpful for the treatment of IBS. While it may not be necessary to take all supplements listed below, it would be wise to determine for yourself which ones to try first and see how your body reacts to them after a few days of use.
●Super B Complex: Vitamin B is great for the body when it undergoes stressful life situations. I try to keep it in my system as often as possible.
●Calcium: Especially for those that face IBS with diarrhea, calcium can provide great relief.
●Zinc: Also mainly for those that suffer from diarrhea onset of IBS, zinc deficiency can be very common.
●Magnesium: For those that face IBS with constipation, magnesium helps soften stool and relieve bloating.
●Fish oil: Fish oil helps relieve gut inflammation, allowing for everything to flow more smoothly, per se..
Be it tea form or supplement, these herbal remedies have great properties to aid with or prevent complications of symptoms.
●Slippery Elm: For its emollient effects.
●Dandelion root: For its anti-inflammatory properties, soothes the digestive tract.
●Marshmallow Root: Has shown to aid in most all issues related to inflammation of the digestive tract.
Choosing a Probiotic
When it comes to keeping your gut functioning properly, you need to make sure the good bacteria are still alive and well. In order to do that it is best to introduce a daily probiotic to your diet. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement 1 to 3 times a day, depending on your body’s signals. Some people prefer to take their probiotic once before bed to avoid the possible cramping that can take place.
If supplemental probiotics are too harsh on your digestive tract you can drink kombucha or have a half-cup of yogurt instead. Try these 7 powerful plant-based probiotics to naturally get more probiotics in your diet. For proper digestion I prefer the yogurt method once before bed every evening, as it is my only exception for consuming dairy products. There is also coconut water kefir available.
Assessing Your Stress
Not all symptoms of IBS are food triggered. In fact, a doctor's main response to a patient with IBS is to prescribe them an anti-anxiety medication, believing that the gut will react to a mind that is calmer. This is in belief that the upset stomach is in correlation to the fight or flight senses being too active and easily triggered.
This step is especially important in order to determine what environmental influences are contributing to your symptoms. If you are living in an unhealthy environment it is best to remove yourself from the situation for your health's sake. Some stresses can root from life traumas such as the death of a close relative or PTSD. In these cases, seeking help from a therapist can do wonders for learning to cope. However, for the stresses faced on a day-to-day basis you can allow yourself an appointed time every day to prevent overstimulation. Just 15 to 20 minutes of meditation, exercise, or some other calming activity can make a big difference.
Establishing a Routine
As a hectic lifestyle adds stress to our daily lives, routine provides order and a foundation for a centered mind. As you allow yourself adequate time to get enough sleep, eat properly, exercise, meditate, and take your desired supplements before starting your day, your body and mind will gain the understanding of normality. It is important to find the routine that works best for you and stick with it for several days before seeing true results take place.
Some may benefit simply from introducing an evening probiotic into their daily lifestyle while others with a more debilitating form of IBS may need to transform their lifestyle completely. It’s important to listen to your body and acknowledge its responses to different techniques in order to decipher your best possible course of action.
All other information is based on life experiences