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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April is Irritable Bowel Awareness Month


It seems that Irritable Bowel (IBS) is increasingly common these days. But I've been familiar with it since I was a kid. My dad was diagnosed with it back in the 80s. At that point, nobody was talking about it. He was put on this weird fibre supplement but I don't think it helped much because after a few years he quit taking it.

By the end of highschool, I'd been diagnosed with it too. My doctor recommended I start my day with a glass of warm water and then sit on the toilet until elimination occurred. Um. Okay...

That didn't work. Partly because drinking warm water made me gag (hot with lemon or ice cold is how I like my water!), and partly because it just didn't help me eliminate. It was only years later I realized I just needed to stop consuming milk (I was lactose intolerant and ate cereal with milk every day for breakfast) and start drinking a lot more water. I was working out regularly by 10th grade, but like most young people, drinking crap (pop, juice, etc.) or nothing at all.

My IBS symptoms have always been around since, but improved or worsened depending on what's going on with my hormones and my diet.

I am now fine with dairy, as long as I don't consume too much milk (cheese is fine). But, as I reported recently, I have had to entirely cut out chia and flax seeds. I also can't overdo it on cauliflower, beets, or beans.

I am pretty bummed about the flax and chia, as they are so nutritious and a great source of Omega 3s, which are vital to overall health. Fortunately, there are some other plant-based sources, such as sea buckthorn berries.  This plant also contains Omega 7 which can ease IBS symptoms for some people. You can get a variety of supplements and beauty products made from sea buckthorn through Seabuck Wonders, an awesome company whose products I reviewed for you all a few years ago.

They have provided some info on IBS in honour of April being IBS Awareness Month:

April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

SeabuckWonders Offers Five Tips to Support Digestive Health 

Chicago, IL – March 23, 2017 – If you’re not personally affected by IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chances are you know someone who is. Did you know that 11% of the world population suffers from IBS?[1] In the U.S. alone, 25-45 million people are affected by this disorder—with a majority being women. And it is quite possible there are many more who suffer from IBS but have not been diagnosed.

These are staggering statistics for a condition that does not have a specific cure. As a matter of fact, if you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, it is because most other digestive diseases or conditions have been ruled out—it is a diagnosis of exclusion with many variables in terms of symptoms, treatment and severity.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The Mayo Clinic defines IBS as ...a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.[2] It goes on to explain that only a small number of people have severe symptoms requiring prescribed medications, and that most sufferers can control symptoms through diet, exercise, lifestyle and reducing stress.

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Symptoms of IBS

The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A bloated feeling
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool

For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.[3]
5 Tips to Reduce Tummy Trouble:

  1. Drink plenty of water - Drink enough water. Many digestive problems are the result of a lack of water, as the liquid helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber. Taking a glass of water soon after waking up jumpstarts the digestive system, which helps prevent constipation. Also, drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal stimulates the stomach lining and prepares it for food.[4]
  2. Probiotics - Increasing the number of good bacteria in our GI tract, by taking probiotic supplements and eating foods that contain probiotics, may help combat reduce digestive symptoms, a growing number of scientists say. New research indicates that specialized strains of these good bacteria could also alleviate mood and anxiety disorders.[5] Of course, always confer with your doctors to find out which probiotics are right for you and the optimal dosage.
  3. Low FODMAP Diet – FODMAP compounds (found in gluten containing foods) are thought to contribute to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and similar gastrointestinal disorders.[6] Click here to learn more and find out which foods are low in FODMAPs, which may help reduce IBS symptoms
  4. Increase Omega-7 intake - Sea buckthorn has an array of essential omega fatty acids, including the rare Omega 7. These fatty acids soothe cells and support the functions of the gastrointestinal mucosa. Omega 7 provides also helps to restore moisture. When the mucous membranes are healthy, they hold moisture better. Constipation sufferers may find relief with the healthy functions of these mucous membranes.
  5. Exercise - Aerobic activity, the use of large muscles groups for at least 10 minutes, helps fight constipation. Exercise helps with digestion in several ways, including promoting the movement of food through the intestines and improving blood flow to your gut.[7]