In the last post of our IBS blog series, I have 13 tools to share with you that may help break the cycle of IBS and set you free to enjoy life without embarrassing symptoms.
1. Increase Fiber
In last week’s blog post I shared that lack of dietary fiber can be a culprit behind IBS symptoms. To alleviate your symptoms:
Make sure you’re getting 25-35 grams of plant fiber per day. As a reminder from last week, we find fiber in:
- Grains (wheat, teff, barley, quinoa, oats, and brown rice)
- Fruits (apples, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, and grapefruit)
- Vegetables(acorn squash, green peas, collard greens, artichokes, butternut squash, parsnips, broccoli, and carrots)
- Legumes (navy beans, dried peas, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans, etc.)
- Hypoallergenic fiber like psyllium (Metamucil) or PHGG PHGG is a natural, soluble fiber derived from the guar plant. It is low in FODMAPs – read on to learn all about them!
2. Eliminate Allergens
We carry the Great Plains Food Sensitivity Test. Why go through months of food elimination and reintroduction, when you can know the answers in just a couple of weeks? $349 provides you with the answer to 190 food sensitivities and an hour with one of our experienced nutritionists. As a result, you’ll walk away empowered to make the right decision for your health and wellbeing. And the best part? The kit is mailed to your home and only requires a finger poke. If you don’t want to do it yourself, simply request the kit that requires a blood draw. Your local lab will happily help you out for a nominal fee. Contact us here to speak to one of our staff and get started today.
3. Eliminate Refined Sugar
Meals high in refined sugar contribute to IBS, Candida overgrowth, and SIBO. SIBO raises histamine levels and high histamines can cause digestive upset too.
4. Reduce FODMAPs
A low FODMAP diet may help to alleviate symptoms. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosacchirides, Disacchirides, Monosacchirides, and Polyols. They are foods that contain short-chain carbohydrates that don’t get absorbed well in your small intestine and ferment, producing large amounts of gas and bloating.
- Oligosaccharides fall into two categories: fructans and galactooligosaccharides. These include foods like wheat, barley, beans, cashews, onions, and garlic.
- Disaccharides (literally means two sugars) refer to lactose. We need an enzyme called lactase to break down these two sugars. Without it, you will suffer from lactose intolerance. Many soft varieties of cheese have a high lactose content, but firmer dairy products like cheddar and parmesan have less.
- Monosaccharides are single sugars, and fructose is a single sugar. Foods high in fructose include agave nectar, apples, asparagus, figs, mangoes, pears, etc.
- Polyols are sugar alcohols that occur naturally in a few fruits and vegetables like blackberries, cauliflower, plums, and watermelon. They also exist in artificial sweeteners that often end in “ol.” Xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol are a few examples.
FODMAP Diets Can Alleviate Symptoms, But They Take Work To Figure Out
Following a low FODMAP diet takes a little finagling. Not every high FODMAP food will bother you. Sometimes too much of a low-FODMAP food will overwhelm your system, and because it eliminates so many healthy foods from your diet, it’s not a diet that you stay on. Instead, it’s a good idea to do an elimination-style diet where you remove high FODMAP foods and then reintroduce them to see which ones bother you the most.
They can have a cumulative effect as well, so you might be alright eating half an apple today, but you won’t do well having half an apple and half a cup of chickpeas followed by a big bowl of guacamole.
As of this writing in April 2021, Microbiome Labs announced the exciting development of a digestive enzyme called FODMATE. FODMATE is designed to help you digest oligosaccharides, disaccharides, and monosaccharides. I purchased a bottle this week to try and am on day two. So far, so good. I pleased to report that there’s very little to report! I’ve eaten garlic, onions, apples, and avocados this week without so much as a grumble. I’m excited to see how this continues and will dedicate a post to the product if it continues to go well. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me here. Include the word FODMATE in your text.
Exercise is beneficial on so many levels, including stress reduction and digestion. It can help lower the risk of diverticular disease and constipation. It also improves your good gut bacteria.
Since the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract equates to IBS symptoms, probiotics can be a beneficial option. The health-promoting friendly bacteria create a healthy environment in your gut. The dose should be 5 billion to 20 billion CFU’s. While probiotics exist in many foods, like dairy and fermented vegetables, individuals with a sensitive stomach, especially those with SIBO or histamine problems, may not tolerate them well. In these cases, a supplement is better.
One of our favorites is Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Synbiotic which you can purchase online with an account at Fullscript. The supplements suggested below can also be purchased there.
7. To Improve Stomach Acid Levels:
Digestive Enzymes and HCL
These are usually available in formulas that include variations of either enzymes, hydrochloric acid, ox bile, or all of the above.
Raw Manuka Honey
Manuka honey has antibacterial and antibiotic properties that reduce both SIBO and Clostridium Difficile. It reduces reflux and heals stomach and intestinal imbalances.
Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp of Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in 2oz of water before your main meals can help prime your digestive pumps. It may also help to alleviate acid reflux if you have low stomach acid. However, because it is a fermented product, those with FODMAP sensitivities or histamine intolerance may worsen their symptoms.
Gentian and Skullcap
Skullcap is in the mint family. It relieves anxiety, reduces inflammation, soothes the lining of your gut, and regulates the gut-brain axis. Gentian helps keep your gut pH optimal and increases your ability to break down your food properly.
Wise Woman Herbals Bitter Tonic contains the phenomenal digestive herbs Gentian, ginger, and anise. Taking a little of this tonic in water before meals helps with your stomach pH, alleviates constipation, and protects against stomach ulcers.
8. For Cramps
Enteric Coated Peppermint
Enteric-coated peppermint oil dissolves in your digestive tract and improves its muscle coordination. Drinking peppermint tea or rubbing peppermint oil on your belly can alleviate cramping. If you have a hiatal hernia, peppermint tea may relax your stomach sphincter and exacerbate GERD.
Castor Oil Packs
Topical application of castor oil has so many benefits that Dr. Marisol, self-proclaimed Queen of the Thrones, teaches an eight-hour lecture on them. It reduces inflammation, assists with gut motility, reduces scar tissue, and improves your gut bacteria and digestion. It alleviates stress by improving sleep and relaxation.
9. For Constipation:
Magnesium citrate works well to alleviate stress and relax the muscles in your digestive tract. It also draws water into the digestive tract to prevent constipation. All of these factors make it the perfect option for stressed-out IBS-C sufferers. A product called Professional Formulas Alka Calm works well.
Vitamin C also draws water into the digestive tract. Higher doses of 2,000 to 5,000mg can get your gut moving. High doses of vitamin C can exacerbate high oxalate conditions.
10. For Diarrhea:
This combo formula contains ulcer-fighting DGL, soothing aloe, and bismuth citrate, which treats mild diarrhea. I’ve personally found it to be helpful.
The antibacterial properties of Mastic help to keep ulcers under control, thereby improving digestion. It may also reduce long-term swelling, bacterial and fungal infections.
IgG Powder works to bind up the bad guys (including C. diff, E. Coli, and other harmful toxins) allowing your immune system to do the work of repairing your gut lining. It’s been shown in studies to reduce diarrhea by half in some studies and restore normal bowel function within 6 weeks of treatment for others.
11. For Low Bile Levels:
Ox Bile is helpful for those struggling with fat digestion. Doses range from 30mg in formulations to 500mg as a single supplement.
12. Control Stress
Since stress is one of the dominant triggers for IBS, seeking help to deal with it is vital. Whether you use supplements, counseling, biofeedback, or another avenue, stress management is a fundamental component for alleviating symptoms.
13. Symptom Log or MySymptoms App
Keeping a food journal or using an app like MySymptoms will provide valuable insight into your personal IBS triggers.
Hope is possible for IBS sufferers.
Elizabeth took control of her IBS with the help of a nutritionist. She changed her diet and took supplements, which helped her physically and psychologically. Yoga, meditation, and therapy helped her reduce her anxiety. She said:
For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.
We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.