Combat Your IBS Symptoms Using Integrative Methods
IBS Symptoms | Your gut is made up of a series of organs including your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. This group of organs convert the food that you eat into nutrients that your body can utilize and thrive off of. Unfortunately, the gut can be sensitive at times, causing an upset stomach, gas, bloating, constipation, or heartburn. For those who have experienced some of these symptoms, it can not only be painful and uncomfortable, but also embarrassing. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a gastrointestinal condition that affects over 10% of Americans. Though medications are available, most individuals do not respond well to them, and for individuals who do find some relief, it is only temporary. Fortunately, there are several well studied solutions to IBS symptoms that are integrative and do not rely on the use of medication.
It is well known that IBS is aggravated by stress. Unfortunately, the symptoms of IBS itself can be stressful, which can cause a vicious cycle of discomfort and pain. You may be wondering how stress affects the gut. Well, it turns out that besides your brain and spinal cord, your gut hosts the largest concentration of neurons. This allows the gut and brain to create a strong connection, which also makes the gastrointestinal system susceptible to the effects of stress. It is well known that stress hormones can alter your gastrointestinal tract to speed up or slow down, as well as create spasms which in turn cause pain. For individuals who experience a lot of stress, learning stress reduction techniques can be very beneficial in decreasing the severity of IBS.
According to Harvard Health, the two best stress-reduction techniques is meditation and mindfulness interventions. In order to be most effective, these tools should be practiced on a daily basis. Similar to any learned skill, stress-reduction techniques take time to master, and it may be awhile before any relief of symptoms related to IBS are observed.
The type of food that we eat can either aggravate or eliminate IBS symptoms. There is a large amount of evidence that shows the benefits of following a low FODMAPs diet for regulating IBS symptoms. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These types of sugars can provide fuel to a certain type of bacteria in the gastrointestinal system causing IBS-related symptoms. Though many individuals find success following a low FODMAPs diet for short-term use, there are no long-term studies on this diet. The most difficult component of this diet is compliance, as it can be challenging to sustain.
For many individuals, reducing intake of gluten and lactose can also help combat IBS-related symptoms. Gluten can modify the barrier function of the gut lining, and lactose can aggravate the gut as well.
There are several supplements that may be helpful for individuals dealing with IBS. This could be a long list a few options would include:
- A soluble fiber supplement: Konjac root, Inulin and foods high in Soluble fiber like apples, oranges, flaxseeds, and carrots.
- Probiotics: Helps reduce pain, increase “good” gut bacteria, and maintain digestive health.
- Peppermint oil: Known to relax the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, and may help reduce abdominal pain associated with IBS.
Constantly dealing with pain and discomfort is difficult. If you are experiencing sensitive gut issues consider a consult with a doctor of functional medicine Overland Park, KS, who can assist you. As a specialist in functional medicine, the best treatment plan will be created to help improve your overall health.