Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition characterized by moderate to severe intestinal cramps (abdominal pain) with constipation and/or diarrhoea. IBS is not a detectable structural disease but the symptoms are caused by abnormal muscular contractions in the colon. Digestive dysfunction, food intolerances, anxiety, stress and a compromised immune system may further exacerbate this condition. This condition may cause malabsorption in some individuals which may result in vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
This digestive complaint may be caused by excessive cramping of the intestinal walls and also inflammation present in the bowels.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF IBS:
- Bloating, fullness after eating, flatulence
- Pain, abdominal cramps, spasms
- Constipation and diarrhoea
- Indigestion, undigested food in the stools
- Altered bowel transit time
- Low energy levels
Best results for the treatment of IBS can be seen if you address the digestive system as well as the immune and nervous systems. IBS management takes into account both gastrointestinal and neurological aspects involved. It would be beneficial to have a face to face consultation with a Healthcare professional in order to devise an individually tailored treatment plan that address’ your own personal condition.
DIET TIPS FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
- Avoid foods which decrease transit time in the bowels and contribute to constipation, irritation and inflammation in the bowel. Elimination of foods such as red meat, dairy, nuts, dietary fats, simple sugars, processed, preserved, refined and fried foods and wheat will improve your digestion and reduce the symptoms associated with irritable bowels
- Foods to increase – plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, vegetable juices, lemon juice, water, green barley powder, garlic, onions and ginger
- Ensure you are properly hydrated (2 litres of water/ day) to flush the bowels and help to reduce inflammation and constipation in the bowel
- Increase essential fatty acids in the diet such as fish, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados
- Introduce herbal teas into your diet such as Peppermint, Ginger, Fennel and Chamomile to support digestion and reduce symptoms of digestive discomfort
- Limit consumption of caffeine (tea, coffee, soft drinks) as caffeine acts as a stimulant to the nervous system and can aggravate symptoms of IBS
- Reducing wheat in the diet can have a positive influence on reducing these symptoms, this is because wheat is very abrasive and aggressive to the bowel walls which may cause inflammation, irritability and spasms
- Reduce foods such as sorbitol, simple sugars and dietary fats as these greatly compromise digestive function and increase muscular irritability
LIFESTYLE FACTORS FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
- Have an allergy test to determine any trigger foods which may be contributing to a decrease in bowel function. Leaky gut syndrome (weakness in the lining of the digestive tract) contributes to allergic reactions and the bowel walls becoming over sensitive and cramping
- Manage stress
- Address underlying liver congestion, immunity and digestive complaints
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
- Psyllium husks – 1 tablespoon taken last thing at night with a large glass of water is a gentle bulking fibre to stimulate peristalsis and provide mucopolysaccharides to soothe the bowels.
- Slippery elm powder – has a demulcent (soothing) effect on the bowels and digestion to reduce inflammation and help the mucus membranes of the intestines to heal. Take 1 teaspoon in a small glass of water 10 minutes before meals.
- Probiotics – increasing healthy microflora in the bowels is beneficial to improve digestion and regulate the activity of bacteria in the bowels, as many individuals with bowel complaints will usually have an increase in the detrimental bacteria which contributes to an imbalance in bowel function (constipation and diarrhoea).
- Aloe vera juice – taken regularly may reduce inflammation and the cramping experienced with bowel irritation as well as being very soothing to the digestion.
- Magnesium is a mineral which is commonly deficient in people experiencing cramps and pain. Magnesium helps to relax the muscles
- Liver herbs such as Dandelion, St Marys Thistle, Bupleurum, Chicory, Golden Seal, Marshmallow, Andrographis, Chicory Globe Arthichoke and Gentian
- Fish oil has a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the bowel
- Digestive enzymes may to ensure adequate digestive processes and absorption of foods to reduce sluggish bowel function and inflammation
- Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium may to help reduce inflammation within the bowel
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