5 Ways To Treat IBS Naturally

5 Ways To Treat IBS Naturally

IMAGINE HAVING A CONDITION with symptoms that leave you scrambling to find a bathroom at the worst possible moment OR anxious about traveling because you worry that your constipation will act up OR missing out on important moments in life because of stomach pain.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a widely diagnosed, often misunderstood condition that affects a large percentage of the population.

Symptoms of IBS include gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, accompanied by constipation, diarrhea, or both.

Because there is no recognized cause of IBS in conventional medicine, the standard treatment is to suppress symptoms through the use of drugs, like laxatives and pain meds. Reports of use show low satisfaction with little relief; and many of these drugs cause side effects that are similar to, if not worse than, the IBS symptoms themselves.

The problem with these so called treatments is that they focus on alleviating symptoms of IBS instead of actually fixing the underlying problems.

For the greater part of my life, I suffered from IBS with symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation and severe stomach pain. Most doctors gave me very little hope and none of them attempted to find the root cause of my problem. The common advice was to eat more fiber, avoid coffee and take a laxative.

I know from experience just how frustrating it can be to seek help and healing from your doctor, only to find no answers and possibly have your symptoms poorly managed with pills

In this article, I’m going to share with you 5 natural steps you can take to help treat the root cause of your IBS, so you can begin to enjoy life without daily nagging IBS symptoms.

These steps have been life-changing for me and have allowed me to put over 20 years of IBS behind me. I truly feel they are worth the effort and investment if you are serious about getting your gut healthy and living symptom free!

how to treat IBS naturally, food intolerance

5 Ways to Treat IBS Naturally 

#1: Identify Food Intolerances

Food sensitivities are extremely common among people with IBS and are often responsible for causing symptoms or making them worse. We know that certain food proteins (ie. gluten) can lead to inflammation in sensitive individuals, especially where a leaky gut is already present, and studies show that at least two-thirds of people with IBS show chronic low-grade inflammation. (1, 2)

IBS-like symptoms occur in most people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), making the two conditions nearly indistinguishable in many cases. One study estimated that about one-third of people with IBS have NCGS. (1)

Proteins in dairy, yeast, soy, eggs, and other foods may also contribute to IBS. (2) Removing problematic foods from your diet is an important first step in healing your gut and treating your IBS.

In addition, clinical trials have consistently shown that a low-FODMAP diet can significantly reduce the severity of IBS symptoms. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols and are short-chain carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion.

FODMAPs can cause problems in IBS patients for a couple of reasons. First, unabsorbed FODMAPs draw liquid into the intestines, which can contribute to abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Second, these unabsorbed FODMAPs are fermented by intestinal bacteria, resulting in gas, bloating, and abdominal distention.

While a low-FODMAP diet can provide safe and immediate relief to those with IBS, it’s important to also address the underlying causes of the IBS and avoid staying on a low-FODMAP diet long term.

The gold standard for identifying food intolerances is an elimination diet. It requires a larger commitment, but it’s cheap and effective, and there are plenty of resources available to guide people through both the elimination phase and the slow reintroduction of foods.

TRY: The Love Your Gut Program. In this program, I coach you through an elimination diet for IBS and teach you how to properly reintroduce foods. 

#2: Support Digestion

Most people with IBS have compromised digestion due to digestive enzyme deficiency.

Digestive enzymes are small proteins that help to break down food. If you are deficient in any of these enzymes, your body may not be breaking down food as well as it should, leading to major issues in the digestive tract and an imbalance in gut bacteria (the “bad” bacteria can outnumber the “good”).

Enzyme deficiency can be caused by a number of factors including a leaky gut, low stomach acid, inflammation from food sensitivities and toxins, chronic stress, genetics, and aging.

Since enzyme deficiency is common in people with IBS, it’s important to support digestion with digestive enzymes. The supplement I use and recommend is Digestzymes. Learn more about Digestzymes here. 

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#3: Repair Your Gut

Small gaps in the intestinal wall called tight junctions allow water and nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream, while blocking the passage of harmful substances. Intestinal permeability refers to how easily substances pass through the intestinal wall.

Certain external factors, including food, infections, toxins, and stress, can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal wall.

When the tight junctions of intestinal walls become loose, the gut becomes more permeable, which may allow toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles to pass from the gut into the bloodstream. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “leaky gut.”

When the gut is “leaky” and bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream, it can cause widespread inflammation and possibly trigger a reaction from the immune system.

Leaky gut and associated low-grade immune activation affect between 12 and 50 percent of people suffering from IBS. (3, 4, 5)

Supplements that can help re-establish the intestinal barrier and heal a leaky gut include: L-glutamine, MSM and quercetin, N-acetyl glucosamine, nucin, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow, chamomile and cat’s claw.

The supplement I use and recommend is GI-Revive since it contains several of the above supplements in an effective blend. Learn more about GI Revive here.

Probiotics can also help repair gut permeability, which brings me to my next step …

#4: Repopulate Your Gut with Good Bacteria

IBS symptoms have been linked to certain changes in the gut bacteria. For example, people with IBS have lower amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in their guts, and higher levels of harmful Streptococcus, E. coli and Clostridium. (6, 7)

Additionally, up to 80% of IBS patients experience bacterial overgrowth in their small intestines (also known as SIBO), which can lead to many of their symptoms. (8)

It’s important to note that certain medications used to treat IBS can damage the healthy bacteria living in the gut. (9)

Changes in the gut flora may influence IBS symptoms which is why probiotics are being increasingly investigated as a treatment option for IBS. Aside from their potential to reshape the gut microbiome, there are several ways probiotics may improve IBS symptoms: changing intestinal motility, reducing gut sensitivity, improving intestinal barrier function, and calming gut inflammation and immune activation, to name a few.

The overwhelming trend is that probiotics have a beneficial impact on people with IBS, and there’s more than enough evidence to support their incorporation into a treatment protocol. (10, 11, 12, 13)

However, not all probiotics are alike. In fact, the term “probiotic” covers many different strains and types of bacteria and yeasts. Their health effects vary depending on the type.

Probiotics that have had positive results in treating IBS in placebo-controlled trials include various Lactobacillus species like L. rhamnosus GG and L. acidophilus, various Bifidobacterium species like B. infantis and B. longum, and mixtures of strains. (14, 15, 16)

ProbioMed 50 contains many of the bacteria species listed above which is why it’s my recommended probiotic for people with IBS. Learn more about ProbioMed 50 here.

stress and IBS

#5: Reduce Stress

It’s very clear that many, if not most, cases of IBS involve physical causes, BUT extensive research on the gut–brain connection shows how impactful mental function is on the gut and digestion.

The digestive system is connected to the brain directly through nerve pathways and also indirectly via the endocrine and immune systems. Stress signals in these pathways can cause changes in intestinal motility and secretion, increased visceral sensitivity and intestinal permeability, and even disruptions of the intestinal microbiota–all of which are symptoms of IBS. (17) Stress can not only trigger IBS symptoms, but often makes them worse and longer-lasting.

Several approaches targeting the gut-brain connection have been studied and found to be effective for treating IBS patients. Here are some well researched strategies that may help:

Yoga

A 2015 study in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine found that people with IBS who took an hour-long yoga class three days a week for 12 weeks had less severe symptoms and improved quality of life. The researchers noted that the combination of yoga postures and breath control exercises worked to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety related to IBS.

TRY: If you are new to yoga, find a studio near you and start with beginner, gentle or relaxation classes, 1-3 times/week. You can also do a regular at-home yoga practice since there are plenty of online yoga classes available.

Meditation & Breath Work 

In a 2015 study in the journal PLOS ONE, people with IBS attended a weekly relaxation program that included meditation and breathing exercises and were encouraged to practice the routine for 15 to 20 minutes every day at home. After nine weeks, the group reported much lower levels of IBS-related anxiety.

TRY: Download a meditation app on your phone (ie. Headspace, Calm, Aura) and fit 15 to 20 minutes of meditation and/or breathing exercises into your day. You can split this up during the day to make it easier. For example, try a 5-minute meditation before getting out of bed, then a 5-minute breathing exercise mid-day and a 5 to 10 minute meditation before bed.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

The goal of CBT is to help you increase awareness of your thoughts and behavior and learn how to change your reactions to stressful situations. A 2015 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that four weeks of CBT sessions reduced symptom severity among IBS patients and that the effect lasted up to three months.

TRY: Google “cognitive behavioral therapist near you” to find a therapist you can work with.

It’s clear that stress reduction and mind-body techniques have an important role to play in treating IBS, and it’s vital for people with IBS to have some way of managing mental stress in order for other treatments, including the ones listed above, to be maximally effective.

how to treat IBS naturally

In summary, there are many effective natural strategies for treating IBS, and these strategies are even more powerful when used together. The strategies described here are low risk and often high reward and thus deserve consideration when treating IBS.

In my work with clients (and my own personal journey), I have seen people who have suffered from symptoms of IBS recover after fixing their diets and implementing the strategies listed in this article. The process is not always quick and easy, but the end result is usually worth the time and energy you invest in your health.

If you are seeking more guidance and support in treating your IBS, I recommend the Love Your Gut Program.

 

Learn more about the Love Your Gut Program + 1:1 health coaching with me. 

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Want the supplements recommended in this article? Get The Ultimate Gut Support Kit. Save $10 and shipping is FREE!

Green Goddess Chicken Plate (Keto, Paleo, Quick Meals)

Green Goddess Chicken Plate (Keto, Paleo, Quick Meals)

Don’t you hate it when you forget to take frozen meat out of the freezer the night before your planned dinner?

Or maybe you decide on a recipe (like this one) last minute, but your ground chicken is frozen solid?

These scenarios are not uncommon in my world. There’s been numerous times where I forget to take meat out of the freezer with enough time to thaw out in the fridge OR I decide on a recipe last minute with only frozen meat on hand.

I’m assuming I’m not alone with my frozen meat problems, so I decided to give you some quick tips for thawing out frozen ground meat safely! 

The first method is best, BUT the second method comes in handy for those who forget to thaw out their meat using the first method or are last minute planners.

THE LONG THAW METHOD: If you have 12 to 24 hours…
If you know ahead of time that you want to use your ground meat, thawing it in the refrigerator is the safest way to do so. It takes about 24 hours to fully thaw one pound of ground beef in the refrigerator.

THE QUICK THAW METHOD: If you have 30-minutes to 1 hour…
With less than an hour to go before dinner and a pound of frozen ground meat in your hands, you can defrost it in a bowl of cold water. Make sure the frozen meat is in a sealed package, then submerge it in a bowl of cold tap water. Important note: DO NOT use warm or hot water since this will heat the outer layer of meat too quickly, risking the growth of bacteria. For this reason, you should also change the water to keep it from getting too warm. One pound of meat will take about one hour to defrost in a bowl of water, then it should be cooked right away.

Now that we’ve solved your frozen meat problems, it’s time to try this super delicious Chicken Green Goddess Plate!

This is one of my favourite go-to dishes during the busy work week. It’s super quick and easy to prepare and it’s packed with so much great flavour!

I used cabbage as a base for this recipe since I always have it on hand–it lasts long in the fridge and is super versatile. If you’re not a fan of cabbage feel free to substitute it with riced cauliflower, spaghetti squash, salad or another base of choice.

Green Goddess Chicken Plate (Keto, Paleo, Quick Meals)

Green Goddess Chicken Plate

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2-3)
1 lb ground pastured chicken
1 small green cabbage or half large, thinly sliced
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper to taste

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING:
1/3 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh parsley, basil or cilantro
1/4 cup chives or green onions
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. For cabbage: Using a deep stove-top pan heat 2 tbsp avocado oil, add cabbage and season with sea salt. Cook at medium heat, mixing occasionally, until cabbage is tender and begins to brown slightly. Remove from heat and mix in olive oil.
2. For chicken: While cabbage is cooking, cook chicken in another stove-top pan. Break meat apart, season with salt and pepper and cook until meat browns slightly.
3. For dressing: Add all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth.
4. Place sauteed cabbage on plate, add chicken on top then drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!

Green Goddess Chicken Plate (Keto, Paleo, Quick Meals)

Tiger Nut Energy Bites (Nut Free, AIP, Plant-Based)

Tiger Nut Energy Bites (Nut Free, AIP, Plant-Based)

DID YOU KNOW? Tiger nuts are not actually nuts, but rather tubers, like sweet potato, though much smaller in size. They get their name from the stripes on the tubers’ exterior.

These marble-sized tubers are chewy and taste like a cross between an almond and pecan with a hint of honey–making them a great nut replacement.

They are naturally gluten, grain and dairy free, so they’re perfect for those following a plant-based or paleo diet.

Tigernuts can be consumed in a number of ways. You can eat them raw, roasted, soaked or boiled. You can also find tiger nuts in a variety of forms; tiger nut flour, tiger nut oil, tiger nut butter and tiger nut milk!

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different tiger nut recipes. Not only do I get more variety in my diet with these small tubers, but they are packed with antioxidants, resistant starch fiber & vitamin E.

So, if you’re curious about tiger nuts or maybe you’re looking for nut free paleo recipes, I recommend trying some of my tiger nut creations below …

Tiger Nut Energy Bites (Nut Free, AIP, Plant-Based)

Tiger Nut Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup tiger nuts
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1/8 tsp sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Put tiger nuts in a jar, fill with water and let soak in fridge for 12+ hours. Drain well.

2. Using a food processor, process drained tiger nuts until they break down a bit. Then add pitted dates, cacao/cocoa powder & sea salt. Continue to process until a consistent mixture forms.

3. Roll the mixture into small balls. Place in airtight container and store in the fridge.

Tiger Nut Energy Bites (Nut Free, AIP, Plant-Based)

5 Ways To Boost Your Smoothie

5 Ways To Boost Your Smoothie

Have you heard about different ‘superfoods’ that can be added to smoothies to make them even more healthy?

There’s a long list of them; so many that it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the land of superfoods.

I always recommend to keep things simple, but I can understand the urge to test out something new, especially if there are health benefits attached to it.

To save you the time and energy required to sort through all the superfoods out there, I’ve put together a short list of my favourite smoothie boosters. Check them out and give them a try!

5 Ways to Boost Your Smoothie

1. MACA POWDER

Known for its hormone balancing effects. Maca has been studied to help normalize the symptoms of premenstrual/menstrual symptoms, as well as the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, cramps, fatigue and lethargy. Look for gelatinized maca for easier digestion and absorption. Add 1 tsp.

2. COLLAGEN

The ultimate anti-aging smoothie booster! As we age, our bodies’ natural production of collagen starts to slow. Collagen supplementation has proven to be effective in supporting the strength and flexibility of bones, tendons and cartilage, as well as the appearance of skin and nails, and GI tract health. Incorporating a collagen powder into your smoothie is an easy way to support many areas of your health and stay forever young. Learn more about the benefits of Whole Body Collagen. Add 1-2 scoops.

Whole Body Collagen

A unique blend of THREE collagen peptides supported by clinical research showing their efficacy for supporting collagen production, bone strength, joint & gut health, skin elasticity + more.

3. CACAO NIBS

These little guys are loaded with antioxidants, even more so than tea, wine and blueberries! In addition, cacao nibs are a high source of magnesium, iron and fibre. A great way to add extra nutrition and crunch to your smoothies. Stir in 1 tbsp.

4. SEA SALT

Not only will a high-quality sea salt enhance the flavour of your smoothie, but it will add life-giving nutrients. Sea salt is rich in trace minerals that are hard to obtain from food due to the lack of nutrient-rich soil. Sea salt can help promote vascular health, healthy pH & electrolyte balance, as well as increase energy, regulate sleep and improve symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Look for Pink Himalayan or Celtic. Add a pinch.

5. CINNAMON

Popular for its blood sugar lowering effects, but also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and immunity-boosting abilities. Great way to naturally sweeten your smoothies as well. Opt for Ceylon cinnamon over Cassia (aka “fake”) cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon contains a higher amount of coumarin, a natural plant chemical that can be toxic to the liver and kidneys, and it may also be carcinogenic, in large doses. Add 1/2-1 tsp.

Join my free smoothie Challenge

Get started on your journey back to health by joining my FREE 14-day smoothie challenge. It’s a simple and natural approach to weight loss & better health. 

Sautéed Lemon & Pine Nut Kale (Plant-Based, High-Fiber, Low-Carb)

Sautéed Lemon & Pine Nut Kale (Plant-Based, High-Fiber, Low-Carb)

To be honest, before this recipe I really wasn’t a big fan of kale–and the only way I would incorporate it into my diet was by hiding it in a smoothie.

The BF managed to change my mind about kale in our early dating days …

It was Halloween 2018 and I was heading to his house for the very first time. The plan was to dress-up and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters in his neighbourhood.

I showed up as Organic Farmer Jen (no surprise there) and he dressed up as Superman (padded abs, biceps, quads and all).

We really didn’t discuss dinner plans before I arrived (I was mentally prepared to eat my stash of organic dark chocolate and SmartSweets for dinner), but to my surprise this man had some dinner ideas up his jacked Superman sleeves.

He busted out a gluten free keto pizza from the freezer and then grabbed a bunch of kale from the fridge. Now, the kale didn’t excite me as much as the pizza did, BUT I was extremely impressed that this bachelor had something green in his fridge and was prepared to do something with it.

I decided not to mention that I wasn’t a big fan of kale, afterall I did show up as Organic Farmer Jen and what organic farmer doesn’t eat kale, right?!

So, after 10-minutes of methodical kale prep and warming up keto pizza, there we were, the organic farmer and jacked Superman enjoying our first at home dinner–that he made!!!

I realized two important things that night:

  1. I actually do like kale, I just needed the right combo of ingredients to make it tickle my palate.
  2. Jacked Superman and his kale recipe might be keepers!

We now make this kale recipe on a regular–and I enjoy it just as much today as I did when I tried it for the very first time.

The combination of lemon, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil makes kale exciting and flavourful. It’s the perfect low-carb, high-fiber side to any fish or meat dish (or gluten free keto pizza!).

Give it a try and leave me a comment below with your thoughts!

Sautéed Lemon & Pine Nut Kale (Plant-Based, High-Fiber, Low-Carb)

Sautéed Lemon & Pine Nut Kale

INGREDIENTS: (serves 3-4)
1 bunch leafy kale, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tbsp avocado oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. In a large stove-top pan saute garlic in avocado oil until fragrant.
2. Add kale to pan. Use tongs to coat kale in oil and garlic. Add sea salt.
3. Once kale has wilted down, add pine nuts and allow them to toast slightly.
4. Add in lemon juice, turn off burner then finish with olive oil. Toss one last time and serve.

Sautéed Lemon & Pine Nut Kale

Sausage & Rapini Pizza (Gluten & Dairy Free, Paleo)

Sausage & Rapini Pizza (Gluten & Dairy Free, Paleo)

DID YOU KNOW? Cassava flour is a good choice for those with gluten intolerance symptoms and sensitive digestive systems or disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Cassava flour is derived from cassava root (also known as yuca or manioc), a starchy, high-carbohydrate tuber – similar to yam, taro, plantains and potato.

Starchy tubers tend to be safer for people with gut issues since they contain more soluble fiber and less insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can be soothing for the gut, whereas consuming large amounts of insoluble fiber when your gut is inflamed can aggravate IBS symptoms.

Once a month (OK fine, every two weeks ?) the BF and I experiment with different pizza toppings for this cassava flour pizza crust. You can find the original pizza crust recipe created by Otto’s Naturals, here.

We’ve nailed down another great recipe which was inspired by my little Jen days. I could always count on a sausage & rapini pizza from Caruso’s Pizza when I would visit my dad on the weekends. This pizza put all others to shame! Looking back, I’m truly grateful my dad was hopeless in the kitchen or else I wouldn’t have got my weekly dose of this pizza ?

So, if you’re looking for a gut friendly pizza with a whole lot of Italian love, this is the one for you!

Love this recipe?! Then you’ve got to try this Classic Margherita Pizza and Mediterranean Tuna Pizza.

gluten free sausage and rapini pizza

Sausage & Rapini Pizza

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2-4)
½ cup warm water (roughly 105-110 F)
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 cup cassava flour
1 tbsp coconut flour
5 tbsp arrowroot flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 egg
¼ cup avocado oil

TOPPINGS: 
1/2 cup plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
20 whole mushrooms, sautéed
1 bunch rapini, boiled & sautéed
1 cured Italian sausage, sliced
Sea salt to taste (mix into tomatoes)

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Prepare yeast mix: In a small bowl, add warm water and honey. Mix to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast in. Mix to dissolve. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate. It will get foamy on top.

2. Mix dry: Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl to combine.

3. Mix wet: Lightly whisk eggs and olive oil together in a small bowl.

4. Mix together and form a dough ball: Add egg mixture and activated yeast to the dry ingredients and form a dough ball. Transfer ball to an oiled bowl, cover with dish towel and set aside in a warm place (70-80 F is ideal) to rise for 1 hour. It will not double in size, but it will rise a little.

5. Prep toppings while dough rises: Remove stems from rapini, boil until tender and drain. Grab two stove-top pans and saute 1 sliced garlic clove in 2 tbsp avocado oil, in each pan. Add rapini to one pan and mushrooms to the other. Season each with sea salt and coat in oil and garlic. After a few minutes remove rapini and set aside. Add some red or white wine (other liquids work too) to the mushrooms and cover for a few minutes. Remove when liquid evaporates and mushrooms are cooked. Set aside.

6. Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 550 F. Preheat pizza stone, baking sheet or metal pan.

7. Roll and shape dough: Place the dough on parchment paper. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough (if necessary) and shape dough with your hands by pushing down (on top of parchment, so it doesn’t stick) and roll with rolling pin. Flatten your pizza about 1/8-1/4 inch thin. Roll the crust thick or thin (to your liking) by shaping with your fingers and rolling the edges. Use extra cassava flour if dough is sticking. NOTE: Split the dough in half before rolling it out to make two smaller pizzas. 

8. Add toppings: Add tomatoes, rapini, mushrooms and sausage onto the dough. Lift the whole piece of parchment paper with pizza on top and transfer to the preheated baking sheet.

9. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes until dough is firm and slightly golden, pulling out halfway and removing parchment paper. For a crispier golden crust, allow a few more minutes. Allow more time if cooking at lower temperature.

Sausage & Rapini Pizza with Cassava Flour Crust