Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? If you do I'm sure your symptoms will be different to the next person who has IBS. It is defined by a number of gastrointestinal issues including abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort and erratic bowel movements. It is difficult to get a diagnosis as there is no real test to confirm IBS so you are more or less left to your own devices once this umbrella term has been given to you. But generally if you have had one or more of the following for at least 6 months (Abdominal pain, Bloating and Change in bowel habits) and investigative blood tests come back negative you will probably be diagnosed with IBS.
- Abdominal discomfort/pain/cramps or spasms
- Alternating constipation or diarrhoea
- Gas/flatulence and rumbling noises in the intestines
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Relief of passing stools
- Mucous/jelly-like substance in stools
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Sleep problems
- Back pain
(Marilyn Glenville PhD, Natural Solutions to IBS)
The exact cause is not really known but many studies have shown that IBS can be caused by poor diet, our environment, stress levels, medications and possibly a genetic predisposition. As a nutritionist I have seen many people with IBS and after spending time going through their life story it becomes apparent what is the driving force behind the symptoms. For example if someone has taken a lot of pain-killers or antibiotics in their lifetime this can upset their digestive system and cause symptoms like constipation or diarrhoea.
There is a lot of information out there about beneficial bacteria and how they have various tasks to do within our body systems. They improve our nutrition by helping digest our food, manufacture vitamins and aid detoxification by helping move food along and preventing it from sitting in our gut too long. The level of beneficial bacteria is affected by many things including stress, diet and medications. There is some research saying that an imbalance of bacteria can cause IBS symptoms.
There are so many symptoms to IBS, which is why it can baffle the health professionals as to how to treat this condition. As a nutritionist one way is by using the 5 'R' program: Remove triggers, Replace, Repopulate, Repair and Rebalance your mind and body. This programme can be tailored by a qualified nutritionist who will give you the right protocol to follow depending on your particular symptoms i.e. do you get bloating and abdominal pain or more constipation?
Another way to treat IBS is to do a stool test and to find out what your microbiome (gut bacteria) are and if you have an imbalance. Do you have more bad bacteria than good or are you missing a bacteria like Lactobacillus that helps break down dairy. Have you got a parasite like Blastocystis Hominis that has been shown to cause IBS symptoms, are you breaking down fats? There are so many areas that a stool test can highlight and really help create a tailored nutrition plan that works for you.
The best way to treat IBS is to see a nutritionist who can help you on your path to recovery and hopefully become symptom free. In the meantime, here are some simple natural ways to deal with IBS as written about by Henrietta Norton in Natural Health Magazine:-
- Eliminate allergenic foods
- Remove Sugar from the diet
- Increase dietary fibre
- Drinks lots of water
- Watch the caffeine
- Address Stress
- Practice mindful eating
Recipe - Chia, Flaxseed & Tomato Crackers from The Gut Health Diet Plan, by Christine Bailey
- Makes 24 crackers
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time: 45 minutes, plus cooling
- Great with nuts butters and fermented foods
- 50g/1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 70g/1/2 cup chia seeds
- 160g/1 cup flaxseed
- 1 red pepper/bell pepper, deseededand chopped
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- Preheat the over to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put all the ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor and add 60ml/2fl oz/1/4 cup water. Blend to form a stiff paste.
- Put the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, then spread it out to about 5mm/1/4 in thick using damp hands to make a rectangle shape. Mark the mixture into rectangle cracker shapes using a knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes until crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Gut Benefits: These grain-free crackers contain soluble fibre and protein thanks to the addition of the seeds, making them useful for supporting the digestion.
If you want more information about dealing with IBS, please contact B/Nutrition to make an appointment and see how we can help you.