Bloating, gassy, cramps, heavy, uncomfortable? One minute you can’t go to the loo and the next minute you can’t get off it?
The likely cause is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It’s incredibly common. According to Guts UK, a charity set up to promote awareness of and funding for digestive problems, it affects up to a third of people at some stage or another and it is one of the main reasons people visit their doctor.
Unfortunately many people suffer for years with this condition and, while a diagnosis can – at first– offer comfort in finally having a recognised problem, the satisfaction is short lived because often that’s where all support ends, and you’re left no further forward in actually fixing what the problem is.
The difficulty begins because IBS is essentially meaningless; it’s a catch-all term used to encompass a huge variety of digestive issues. As a nutrition professional I would like to tell you that there IS hope. There are simple, natural steps that you can take that often really improve the way that you feel – and then, working with a nutritionist you can focus on finding the root cause. This should enable you to get to the bottom of what is causing the symptoms of IBS, and then take steps to fix it.
In my experience, it’s likely to be one of the following five conditions.
One of the most common causes of IBS is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which accounts for 60+ of IBS cases. This describes a condition where bacteria manage to to grow and thrive in the small intestine. It’s not a question of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria. There shouldn’t really be many there at all.
It might be that you have a lactose intolerance. This is when your body is not able to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found naturally in milk and other dairy products, leading to a host of ‘IBS symptoms’. It might similarly be fructose malabsorption. Again, some people are not able to absorb fructose and symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance.
Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon, potentially caused by the overuse of antibiotics or alcohol, an increase in high sugar diets, and stress.
Or you might have a yeast overgrowth. Simply, the gut environment gets out of balance (due to dysbiosis) such that unwelcome yeast can thrive.
In some cases, digestive problems can be tricky to solve, and it almost always involves a lot of detective work. But if your symptoms are hampering your life in a significant way, I want you to know that there ARE things you can do. Although IBS might be very common, it is not normal to experience the symptoms you do.
What can I do about my IBS now?
There are some simple tricks you can put into practice today and that might make enough of a difference to help you get your life back on track. I’m going to tell you what they are in a moment.
I also want you to consider the degree to which your symptoms bother you. Are you satisfied with just covering up the symptoms and hoping for the best? That might be enough for you. If it isn’t, please book yourself in for a free digestive health call to get an idea of what you can do right away and what might be possible for you.
Simple ways to improve your digestion
The following suggestions are very basic but surprisingly effective at improving symptoms of digestive distress.
Try a cup of hot water or ginger tea before meals to stimulate digestion.
Apple cider vinegar (with the ‘mother’) also works – take 1tsp before a meal.
Think about your food before eating it – the thought and smell kickstarts the digestive process.
Make sure you’re chewing properly. If you had to spit out the mouthful, no one should be able to tell what you’ve been eating.
Try a few cubes of pineapple or papaya before a meal. These contain enzymes that can boost your digestion.
Take a 15-minute walk after eating if you can. This lowers blood sugar levels and improves digestion (see, your granny was right).
Eat at your desk at work. Getting up and out is important for so many reasons. In this case, checking emails while you are also eating may have you gulp down your food or not chewing properly. Neither are good for your digestive health.
Try to eat on the go or when you’re stressed out. You won’t digest your food properly or absorb the nutrients. This is the quickest way to get heartburn.
Don’t eat fruit after a meal. Fruit likes a quick passage through the digestive system. It can get stuck behind other foods that are digested more slowly and then ferment, causing gas.
If you’re sick of feeling bloated, gassy, crampy or going to the loo too much (or too little), book in for a health and energy review. You can do that here: https://p.bttr.to/3eFTYR6