5 things you must know about IBS

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Get to know IBS. 

Are you one of those unfortunate people who experience gut-wrenching cramping, while feeling bloated and battling constipation, all at the same time? Then you probably suffer from a common condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

IBS is a common gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Diagnosis is made purely through the exclusion of other diseases, when no other more serious causes can be found. IBS happens when the normal rhythmic muscular contractions of the digestive tract become irregular and uncoordinated. This interferes with the normal movement of food and waste, which in turn results in the build-up of mucous and toxins. The partial obstructions trap gas and stools, affecting the entire GI tract from mouth to colon. 

Symptoms include:

  • Chronic abdominal pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Gas.
  • Spasms.
  • Distension (outward expansion).
  • Varying bouts of diarrhoea that alternates with constipation.

A bowel movement or release of gas will generally relieve the discomfort. The condition varies in severity and can restrict your lifestyle, giving new meaning to the phrase “cramping your style”. 

IBS is predominant in women between the ages of 20 and 50, and often flares up around menstruation. It’s also commonly found in the elderly and can be the root of common symptoms experienced by this age group. These symptoms include lethargy,  frequent urination, headaches and backache. IBS is also common in people who've struggled with constipation most of their lives, and where fermentation has irritated the gut wall to such an extent that colon distension and diarrhoea occurs when the body tries to expel the irritants. Compulsive worriers, who skip meals or put tension on their stomachs when they eat, create an environment where the stomach isn't able to produce enough digestive enzymes, leading to undigested foods festering in the system, which exacerbates IBS symptoms.

Soothe the symptoms:

  • Aloe vera juice soothes the digestive tract. Sip on an empty stomach.
  • Glutamine heals the gut lining.
  • Avocado is a good fat for digestion.
  • Slippery elm powder makes a nice mix with some warm water. Or take it with a banana and yogurt, as a soothing formula to help digestion.
  • Live probiotic cultures can be used daily on an empty stomach. Many people notice a change within four weeks of taking a good-quality probiotic.
  • Fish oils, Krill oil and curcumin inhibit the inflammatory prostaglandins to help reduce pain.
  • Digestive enzymes help with the digestion of starches and lactose, and helps to break down undigested protein complexes.
  • A magnesium supplement will relax the colon muscles, help stomach movements and act as an antispasmodic to relax the smooth muscle of the GI tract.
  • A Vitamin C powder with magnesium ascorbate and potassium will help bowel movements if peristalsis is slow.

Ease the pain:

  • Create a relaxing environment during mealtimes. Chew your food thoroughly to release digestive enzymes.  
  • Don't eat in front of the television or on the run. Small, regular meals will stabilise your blood sugar levels and curb hunger pangs. 
  • Don't overeat or eat when you’re extremely hungry. In the evenings, the digestive fire is low and not equipped to handle large quantities of food, so take note of how much you eat at night.
  • Combine food correctly. Try to eat protein, green vegetables and non-starchy vegetables together, rather than too many carbohydrates. Avoid eating fruit straight after meals as it digests quickly and may ferment. 
  • Zap those stress levels with exercise, deep breathing, massage, acupuncture, yoga or hypnotherapy.

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