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. 

The Ultimate gut Support KIt for IBS

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

5 Gut Healing Smoothie Ingredients

5 Gut Healing Smoothie Ingredients

Do you feel like your gut could use a little extra support?

Maybe you’re experiencing symptoms like excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stomach pain or other issues that could be related to your gut?

As you may know, my goal with the 14-day smoothie challenge is to promote health and weight loss with delicious & gut friendly smoothies.

Gut friendly smoothies are a top priority for me because I truly believe that all health begins in the gut — and by healing and supporting our gut, we can optimize our health and prevent & reverse illnesses.

I come from a long history of IBS, so I’m always experimenting with different ways to support my gut. I’ve discovered that adding certain ingredients into my smoothie is not only an effective way to promote gut health, but it’s super easy too! 

Below, you’ll find a list of my top gut healing foods & supplements that you can easily add to any smoothie recipe from the 14-day smoothie challenge or any of my e-books.

The best part is, these foods & supplements will have little impact on the flavour or texture of your smoothies. Feel free to add as many of these ingredients as you’d like — your gut will love you for it! 

5 Gut Healing Smoothie Ingredients

1. COLLAGEN POWDER

Collagen is an essential component for healing and sealing the gut. Besides providing the building blocks for new collagen in the body, the amino acids delivered by hydrolyzed collagen support gut health. 

For example, glutamate and arginine (and possibly methionine, cysteine and threonine) optimize the immune functions of the intestine. They also help to maintain the integrity, growth and function of the intestine.

The amino acids methionine, threonine, arginine, serine and proline all support intestinal mucosal healing. Glycine, has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Collagen supplementation can help a number of gastrointestinal disorders, such as leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Whole Body Collagen is my recommended collagen powder (learn more about the amazing benefits of this supplement, here). Add 1 scoop to your smoothie.

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.

2. L-GLUTAMINE POWDER 

Glutamine is the most important and commonly used nutritional substance to repair tissues, particularly high turnover tissue such as the cells of the intestinal lining.

The surface area of your gut is lined with a type of cell known as enterocytes. L-glutamine is considered an essential amino acid because your body uses so much during times of intense physical stress. It is essential for maintaining the health and growth of enterocytes in your gut since it is the preferred fuel of these cells.

Glutamine deficiency can cause severe intestinal degradation and supplementation can enhance intestinal healing and repair. Add 1 tsp. to your smoothie. Find l-glutamine powder here.

3. KEFIR OR YOGURT

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics which help restore a healthy gut microbiota and intestinal barrier.

According to Isolauri, Salminen, (from the Nutrition, Allergy, Mucosal Immunology and Intestinal Microbiota Research group), immune regulation in the gut depends on the establishment of the healthy gut bacteria.

The factors that contribute to leaky gut tend to produce inflammation and improper functioning of the mucous layer that protects the cells of the gut from damage. Medical experts suspect that probiotics’ role is to reduce these factors and therefore protect the gut.

Yogurt and kefir can provide probiotics in abundance. However, make sure you’re not struggling with histamine intolerance before increasing your intake of these foods, as fermented foods can exacerbate symptoms. I recommend a good quality unsweetened coconut kefir or yogurt. Add 1-2 tbsp. to your smoothie. My favourite coconut kefir is from Healing Spirit Nutrition (available at Nature’s Emporium & Ambrosia). 

Note: If fermented foods do not work well for you, try a broad-spectrum, high-quality probiotic. Here is one that I recommend.

4. SLIPPERY ELM POWDER

Slippery elm is a herb that contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. This mucilage coats and soothes the stomach and intestines, promoting the healing of ulcers and inflamed tissue, and reducing cramping by relaxing the intestines.

Slippery elm is ideal for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis and diarrhea. Add 1/4 tsp. to your smoothie. Find slippery elm powder here.

5. MARSHMALLOW ROOT POWDER 

Marshmallow, like slippery elm, is a herb that contains mucilage, producing a thick sticky substance that coats membranes.

Marshmallow extract also contains flavanoids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties. The flavanoids are able to reduce inflammation while the mucilage holds them in place and prevents further damage.

Marshmallow helps restore integrity of the gut lining making it beneficial for people suffering from leaky gut and other forms of inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Add 1/4 tsp. to your smoothie. Find marshmallow root powder here.

Join my free smoothie Challenge

Learn how to create delicious smoothies that will help you on your journey towards weight loss and better gut health. You’ll also get exclusive access to over 16 dessert-inspired smoothie recipes!

Tuna & Sauerkraut Wrap

Tuna & Sauerkraut Wrap

DID YOU KNOW? Sauerkraut’s live and active probiotics have beneficial effects on the health of your digestive tract — and therefore the rest of your body too.

That’s because a very large portion of your immune system actually lives within your gut and is run by bacteria that live within your intestinal flora.

Imbalances in gut bacteria have been associated with a long list of health related problems and increased risks of disease, but luckily obtaining good bacteria from probiotic foods has repeatedly demonstrated health benefits in clinical settings.

Probiotic foods can be beneficial for reducing symptoms like IBS, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, food sensitives and other digestive disorders since they can help lower the presence of toxins, inflammation and bad bacteria living within your gut.

In the process, sauerkraut and other fermented foods help you better absorb nutrients from the food you’re eating and even help manage your appetite, since they have an effect on hormones.

Sauerkraut with live bacterial cultures can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Read the label to make sure it contains live cultures.

Give this gluten free Tuna & Sauerkraut Wrap a try! It makes for a great lunch or dinner when you want healthy & probiotic-rich food.

Tuna & Sauerkraut Wrap

INGREDIENTS: (serves 1)
1 can wild albacore tuna
3 tbsp sauerkraut
1/4 cup sprouts (I like to use broccoli sprouts)
1 tbsp avocado oil mayo OR coconut yogurt (unsweetened)
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 coconut wrap

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix all ingredients (except for coconut wrap) together in a bowl.

2. Place mixture in the center of the coconut wrap, fold and enjoy!

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