All Things Digestive Health



EXERCISE FOR A HEALTHY GUT

                     

Everyday there is new research published on the importance of exercise.  There are numerous benefits, from the obvious advantages of weight reduction, muscle-fat ratio, cardiac health and metabolism to memory and brain function.  Some of the most exciting studies recently published have shown exercise significantly improves the digestive tract and many disorders involving the gut.

Overall health benefits of exercise include:

  1. Bone Health– Strong bones make strong people. Though many people exercise to improve muscle size and tone, it is just as important for bone density and health. Our bones are not static and exercise increases the osteoblasts to bring calcium and other needed nutrients that strengthen our bones into them. Conversely, inactivity slows that process down and leads to bone fragility. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) 50% of all Americans will fracture a bone and need treatment before the age of 65 costing over $10 billion annually in hospital fees and another $1 billion in follow up medical care. (1)
  2. Natural cleansing– Along with exhaling, urinating and bowel movements, sweating is an excellent way of aiding the body to ‘cleanse’ and detoxify itself. The more aerobic the exercise the heavier we breath and the more we sweat, and the detox aspects increase at the same rate.
  3. Stress Reduction– Since exercising (almost any kind) increases the production of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones, it has been found that those who exercise regularly and consistently, even for short periods, have far less depression, anxiety and stress in general. One recent study done at the University of Colorado Boulder in April 2013 and published in the Science Daily even found that whether the exercise is voluntarily done or forced made very little difference in stress reduction. (2)
  4. Good sleep-The National Institutes of Health reports that between 30-40% of adults suffer from insomnia annually. According to a poll done in 2013 by The National Sleep Foundation of 1000 adults between the ages of 23-60, those that exercised regularly not only slept better but also slept longer with less drowsiness during the day. (3)  
  5. Appetite regulation– Very fascinating is that research indicates that appetite can both be stimulated AND suppressed by exercise! In a study by the University of Wyoming it was found that ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, is elevated after exercising. However, there are other hormones that are released that tend to allow for a feeling of being satisfied at a faster rate, thus lowering the appetite following exercise. Some feel that the ratio changes if the person is underweight or overweight accordingly. (4)
  6. Improves brain function– What’s good for the body is also good for the brain- including the memory.  Findings from the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in 2012 found that not only did waistlines and muscle mass improve after 4 weeks of workout but when tested cognitively following their exercise sessions, people’s thinking and memory continually improved. (5)
  7. Better Digestion- Research has shown that minimal to moderate, regular exercise improves digestion in almost all subjects even lowering the risk of colon cancer, diverticular disease and many other issues. In a study done in 2011 by Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Irritable Bowel Syndrome exercise was shown to improve symptoms in patients across the board. (8)

Exercise and your Gut

Recent research on how exercise effects digestion and the gut has produced some very interesting results.  The gist of the research shows what nutritionists and homeopaths have been saying for quite some time…BALANCE is the key!

The gut has been said to have a “second brain.” What this means is that although the digestive tract does not produce emotional responses or memory, over 100 million neurons regulate digestion without any input from you.  The digestive tract decides when to move food from your stomach to your small intestine, when to release necessary hormones and when to get rid of the waste.

Dr. Gershon found in his research and detailed in his book entiltled “The Second Brain” (6) that the ‘feel good’ hormone seratonin is prolific in the digestive tract and governs the actions required for normal activity as well as protective responses.

“Serotonin in the gut can mobilize inflammation, detect potential invaders, and essentially get the gut to mount a full-fledged defensive reaction,” says Gershon.

There are many reasons the digestive tract can go off track.  Prolonged dietary factors, drugs, mental/emotional disturbances and heredatary factors all can play a role. What can we do to rectify a faulty digestive system?

Exercise is one of the first things shown to have an immediate reaction in a positve way for the gut.

In Julia Edelstein’s article “Your Guide to Digestive Health” (7) she lists “5 Healthy Gut Strategies” and the first one listed is exercise! She states: “1. Commit to exercise. Exercise gets the colon moving, helping you maintain regularity. It’s also useful when dealing with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS: A recent Swedish study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that people who exercised three to five times a week for 12 weeks had significant improvement in IBS symptoms; non-exercisers didn’t see the same benefits.”

While exercising, your heart rate and rate of breathing are increased so that the muscles that support the digestive tract get toned just like the other muscles in your body which aid in improving the mechanical action of your gut and stimulate the ability of the intestinal muscles to contract properly.

Besides being having good muscle tone and physically fit, exercise helps prevent and treat problems (including those in your gut) and may lead to a longer, healthier life so get out there and start your exercise program today even if it’s just a nice walk.  Start slow and build up from there and it will not be long before you start seeing results both in your digestion and your overall well being!

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

 

 

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425160212.htm
  2. https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/expert-insight-article/29/3157/new-study-promotes-sleep-benefits-of-exercise/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22619704
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22619704
  5. http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/psjournal/archive/archives/jour_v19no2/second.html
  6. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/11/28/your-guide-to-digestive-health/
  7. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125092231.htm

What Are Prebiotics and Why Do We Need Them?

 

For the last couple of years, everyone has been talking about our lack of and need for probiotics for numerous reasons. Finally though, the research is in on the importance of PREBIOTICS!  What are they? Do we need them?  And, if so, how does one get them?

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics (inulin) are food ingredients that are not digested but rather stay in your bowel and feed and promote the growth of the beneficial gut bacteria, which are crucial to our digestive health and overall well being.  Prebiotics have been shown to contribute to gut health in several ways:

1)   Prebiotics feed the probiotics (good bacteria) ingested.

2)   They help repair damage to the lining of the gut.

3)   They increase calcium and magnesium absorption.

4)   Provide a healthy soluble fiber to the bowel.

5)   Improve a host’s immune system.

6)   Help with balancing colon pH( lowering colon cancer risk)

7)   Aid in remission for Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis

8)   Allow the probiotics to ‘colonize’ in the gut.

Prebiotics are found in many of our everyday foods such as bananas (only 1% by weight),  onions, garlic, jicama and jerusalem artichokes (in their raw forms). By and far though, the most concentrated and easily utilized is the inulin source found in chicory root (over 64% by weight).  It is interesting to note that research has found that breast milk, as the first food, sets up our digestive tracts to produce this symbiotic relationship. The  downward trend in breastfeeding may also be a contributing factor in so many digestive problems and disease in the western world today.

Why have I not heard more about them?

Two reasons…The first reason is that only in recent years have our diets become so compromised, causing dysfunction in the entire digestive system. This is due to the over abundance of processed foods, sugar consumption, increased use of trans-fats and the overzealous prescribing of antibiotics.  Before this occurred in our diets there was no need to know about prebiotics as they were just naturally found in the common combinations of foods we normally ate which contained both prebiotic and probiotic activity.

The 2nd reason we haven’t heard more about prebiotics is that because of the above, research related to bacterias role in gut issues is new and only in 1995 did a researcher named Marcel Roberfroid single them out and understand their necessary function in our digestive tracts.  He has since done many subsequent studies showing diminished prebiotic and probiotic activity and availability of our modern-day diet intake and consequences.

How do I get prebiotics?

Eating foods that contain prebiotics is the first place to start but you need to consider the source. For instance, to eat enough bananas to get a minimal amount of prebiotics, you you would need to eat a pound and a half! That would be a lot of calories and too much fruit sugar!  Many fermented and cultured foods are good as they contain both prebiotic and probiotics. If you are supplementing with probiotics you certainly should be adding in the prebiotics so that the probiotics grow and colonize in the gut! Inulin from chicory is the best addition found, when taken with probiotics.

What Should I Eat?

Diverticulitistinfo.com finds that you should stick to some simple, commonsense rules when developing a healthy gut/bowel:

  1. No Fast/Processed Food
  2. No Processed Sugar
  3. No white flour (and many have found limiting their wheat intake helpful)
  4. Do eat full fat, raw dairy
  5. Do eat fermented and cultured foods

It is helpful to stick to these rules as well as changing your whole diet to be healthier.  Eat fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and whole grains with raw dairy as well as fermented and cultured foods.

What If I am Not Getting Enough Prebiotics?

If you aren’t getting enough prebiotics in your diet and especially if you are having digestive problems, you may need to take a supplement to get your digestion back in balance. Food supplements with raw chicory root (Healthy Bowel Support) as an ingredient are especially beneficial.

Chicory root gives support for the digestive system by providing the needed prebiotics and by increasing the flow of bile. Bile breaks down fats whilst helping to digest your food. Chicory also helps with blood composition and aids with blood sugar levels. Chicory has also been found to have a beneficial effect in fighting salmonella and other diarrhea type disorders.

People with digestive troubles often live their lives in constant fear of eating because it will cause them pain to digest their food. Besides the dietary suggestions offered above the other two easy things you can do to help improve your digestion is:

  1.     1.  Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly
  1.     2.  Eat smaller meals often rather than three big meals

 

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

 

 

  1. Roberfroid MB (2007). “Prebiotics: The Concept Revisited”. J Nutr. 137 (3 Suppl 2): 830S–7S. PMID 17311983
  2. Coxam V (Nov 2007). “Current data with inulin-type fructans and calcium, targeting bone health in adults”. J Nutr. 137 (11 Suppl): 2527S–2533S. PMID 17951497.
  3. Scholz-Ahrens KE, Schrezenmeir J (Nov 2007). “Inulin and oligofructose and mineral metabolism: the evidence from animal trials”. J Nutr. 137 (11 Suppl): 2513S–2523S. PMID 17951495
  4. El Oufir L, Flourié B, Bruley des Varannes S, Barry JL, Cloarec D, Bornet F, Galmiche JP (Jun 1996). “Relations between transit time, fermentation products, and hydrogen consuming flora in healthy humans”. Gut. 38 (6): 870–877. doi:10.1136/gut.38.6.870. PMC 1383195. PMID 8984026.
  5. Moshfegh AJ, Friday JE, Goldman JP, Ahuja JK (Jul 1999). “Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans”. Journal of Nutrition 129 (7 Suppl): 1407S–1411S. PMID 10395608
  6. Hughes R, Rowland IR (Jan 2001). “Stimulation of apoptosis by two prebiotic chicory fructans in the rat colon”. Carcinogenesis 22 (1): 43–47. Doi:10.1093/carcin/22.1.43. PMID 11159739.
  7. Peppelenbosch MP, Ferreira CV (2009). “Immunology of pre- and probiotic supplementation”. Br J Nutr. 101 (1): 2–4. Doi:10.1017/S0007114508020746. PMID 18577301

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Panic Attacks

Category : IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (15) Comments · by Mar 29th, 2013

Many people who report that they experience symptoms of IBS also have panic attacks and vice versa.  The exact connection between them is contested, but it is believed that the connection involves a major nerve which is local to the digestive system and which is involved in the fight or flight responses.  Muscle tension may also play a role in both.  This is why anxiety and depression are common in patients with IBS, and why patients who suffer from mental illness sometimes develop IBS-like symptoms.  Panic attacks are one more form of mental illness which can accompany IBS—or spawn IBS symptoms.  What should you know about panic attacks and how to treat them?

Panic attacks usually start suddenly.  Sometimes there is an identifiable source of panic—an unresolved worry which is not a clear and imposing danger, but which is there nonetheless.  Other times, panic attacks begin seemingly out of the blue, with no obvious trigger.  Symptoms vary, but a typical panic attack may include a fast or irregular heartbeat, shallow breathing or hyperventilation, vertigo, shortness of breath, faintness, constriction in the chest, nausea, and feelings of unreality or separation from reality.  You may experience other more unusual symptoms as well, like discomfort in your skin or a feeling of pounding in your veins.  There are often feelings of impending doom.  A person having a panic attack may believe that he or she is going to die, or that he or she is going to go insane.

Panic attacks typically peak at 10 minutes; they typically last minutes, but can last hours, and often leave after-effects that may linger for longer.  If you are having a panic attack, there are several things you can remind yourself of to try and curtail the length of yours.  The first is to remember that IBS can cause panic attacks, and that something as simple as indigestion can trigger feelings of panic, which can in turn lead to a panic attack.  It doesn’t mean that you are in danger.  And if you remember that the panic attack will typically pass within a relatively short time period, this provides negative feedback against the panic attack, abbreviating its length.

Another important thing to know about panic attacks is that they involve surges of adrenaline and chemical imbalances in the body.  These chemicals and hormones can linger in the body for a while before you come down off the “high” of an adrenaline rush.  The best thing to do is just wait it out and try to find a way to relax and distract yourself.  Whatever you do, try not to fixate on the panic attack, or start believing in the story that the panic is telling you.

Panic attacks are a common complication of IBS, and the first time you experience one, it can be terrifying, but after a while, you will probably get a handle on them.  There are patients who resort to anti-anxiety medications, but even doctors are generally not swift to prescribe these since they can be addicting, and can cause many unpleasant side effects, both physical and psychological.

There are many better approaches, including cognitive therapy, relaxation techniques, and exercise, spending more time outdoors, and making time in your life to enjoy positive and constructive activities.  Spending time with people you love can help you to gain perspective.  The worst thing you can do is identify with your panic attacks.  Just remember that they belong to your IBS and not you.  You are not your IBS, and you are not your psychological disorder.  You are bigger than both, and by working to overcome one, you automatically take steps toward treating and resolving the other. There are several homeopathic remedies that can help with panic attacks such as Aconitum Nap, Argentum Nitricum and Phosphorus. The Emotional Balance Kit has helped many with ongoing panic attacks especially with gut issues.

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

Does Acupuncture Work for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Category : IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (20) Comments · by Mar 25th, 2013

 

For many patients, medications are not the best way to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Medications may be ineffectual or may have so many side effects that they aren’t ultimately worth it, which is why so many patients look to alternative treatments for IBS relief.  One treatment which is popular for IBS patients is acupuncture.  How effective is acupuncture at treating IBS symptoms and causes, and how does it work?

 

From a western medical point of view, how acupuncture works is not entirely clear.  One possibility is that acupuncture needles help to convey electromagnetic signals which in turn can help to motivate the healing process or the release of chemicals which can provide relief from pain and discomfort.  Traditionally, the concept behind acupuncture’s effectiveness is the presence of qi, a kind of life energy.  Acupuncture stimulates the flow of qi.  While western doctors do not believe in qi, they do believe the body is a collection of energy systems, so in some sense their explanation of how acupuncture might work is simply another model for how it could provide relief for pain and correction in other health issues.

 

Interested in acupuncture for IBS, but not all that excited about the idea of being poked with needles?  Most equate needles with the type we have had while getting ‘shots’ from the Dr. In acupuncture the needles are much, much thinner (some say the width of a strand of hair) and the majority of those who have had acupuncture report it to be painless. Patients who are still totally leery of needles but still interested in acupuncture can try out acupressure, a similar system which doesn’t involve the use of needles, but which stimulates the same points in the body, improving the flow of energy.  Many acupuncturists also do acupressure treatments and vice versa.

 

One great thing about acupuncture is that it’s a completely natural alternative therapy.  It can help you to feel better without having adverse side effects.  In fact, it may even have positive side effects.  Oftentimes acupuncture provides holistic benefits.  You may find that it isn’t just your IBS that starts to feel better, but that you experience improvements and relief affecting other aspects of your health at the same time.

 

Check around in your area to see if there is an acupuncturist or acupressurist near you who can help you with the IBS.  Some acupuncturists offer free consultations before actual treatment.  Others may charge more for your initial visit and less for subsequent visits later on.  Call and ask in advance so you can find the best deal, and ask for referrals from other patients so you can find a really good acupuncturist.  Not all acupuncture services are equal, which can be another reason for discrepancies in studies.  Be optimistic about your healing process, do what you can to relieve stress in your life, take healthy supplements to support your digestive system, and good luck!

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

Should I use medications for my IBS?

Category : IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Mar 6th, 2013

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may feel like there is no relief in sight.  Many patients find that their IBS gets much better or even goes away completely after time and treatment however.   In severe cases, your doctor may suggest that you try taking a medication to counteract your IBS.  Not all IBS patients require medication; in fact, the vast majority do not.  If your case is very debilitating, you might consider some of these possibilities, but as we will discuss further on, there are many reasons to consider alternative therapies in addition to or in lieu of medications.

 

For IBS-D:

 

  • Antidiarrheal medications.  These include diphenoxylates like Lomotil and Ioperamide (Imodium is a good example).
  • Alosetron (like Lotronex).  This medication is sometimes prescribed to women who cannot be helped by other medications.
  • Bile acid binding agents.  These medications include cholestyramine such as the medication Questran.

 

For IBS-C:

 

  • Lubiprostone (such as Amitiza).  This boosts the level of fluid in your intestines.
  • Linaclotide (such as Linzess).  This can increase the frequency of your bowel movements if they are far apart.  It is not suitable for patients younger than 17.
  • Osmotic laxatives.  These increase fluid retention in the intestines.  Examples include Milk of Magnesia and lactulose.
  • Polyethylene glycol like MiraLax or stimulant laxatives like Senokot.

 

If you have IBS that switches between constipation and diarrhea, treating your symptoms using medications like these may well be ineffectual since these medications can only help with one or the other, and may make your other symptoms worse.  Natural alternatives like yogurt, probiotics and supplements such as Healthy Bowel Support and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Kit can assist you in balancing out both aspects of your IBS so that you have less constipation and less diarrhea.  Ultimately, treatments like these will probably be more effective.

 

There are also medications available for the other adverse effects which can be caused by IBS.  For pain and cramping, you may be able to take antispasmodics such as dicyclomine (Bentyl).  This may relieve some of the pain you feel throughout the day.  Antidepressants like desipramine (Norpramin) may also be suggested, though they can cause a lot of severe physical and psychological side effects, so you may want to think twice before you take them.

 

Both depression and anxiety are common complications of IBS.  Since anxiety and depression are often felt physically in the digestive tract, alleviating them can help to reduce physical symptoms and not just psychological ones.  Counseling or therapy can also be used as an alternative to medication, as well as relaxation techniques, leisure activities and other stress reduction measures.  Once again, ultimately these natural methods will probably prove to be more effective in the long run.  They are healthier, and they help you to gain control over your life, instead of becoming dependent on a drug.

 

Treating IBS can be difficult since the condition manifests in such diverse ways with different patients.  With the help of your doctor, you may be able to identify an over-the-counter or prescription medication which can help restore some quality to your life, but you should not rely on drugs alone, and you may wish to forego them completely.  Don’t overlook the power of natural treatment methods in helping to counteract both the physical and psychological aspects of IBS.  Natural treatment methods can be used to balance and normalize your condition, even when you suffer both constipation and diarrhea.

 

While medications can be helpful in treating IBS, many patients will find some measure of relief or even recover completely without their assistance.  Natural methods are usually safer and are generally side-effect free.  Try checking into different probiotics (with prebiotics like the Healthy Bowel Support) and supplements which you can add to your diet, and also try adjusting the foods you eat and the timing of your meals.  Look for ways to relax and maximize your enjoyment of life, and you will hopefully start feeling better sooner than you think.

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

When the ‘Go’ is Slow

Category : Healthy Products, IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Feb 19th, 2013

Slow elimination is frustrating for anyone and constipation is even worse. Constipation is defined differently for different people.  As a clinical problem, chronic constipation isn’t diagnosed until three months, and is defined in specific ways.  In terms of everyday life, though, everyone is going to get constipated now and again.  And if you have IBS or another bowel problem, it may happen more often for you than it does for other people and can be an ongoing, frustrating problem.  Learning how to track your particular system and figure out when you are more prone to problems can help you to alleviate your symptoms and establish regularity and balance more quickly.

 

Clinically speaking, chronic constipation is characterized by having to strain to have a bowel movement more than 25% of the time, and/or having hard stools more than 25% of the time, and/or having incomplete bowel movements more than 25% of the time, and/or two bowel movements or fewer during the course of a standard week.  In order to qualify as chronic (according to most health practitioners), at least two of these scenarios need to be present.  In acute terms, constipation may last only a day or two, or it might go on for a week or longer.  Acute episodes can go on as long as a month or two without it being considered to be chronic.

 

Some people think they are only constipated if they “can’t go to the bathroom.”  While this certainly counts, there are other warning signs you can look for.  If your stools are hard, even if you manage to go “a lot,” there is a chance you are becoming constipated.  If your bowel movements are happening less frequently than you expect them to, that also could be an indication you may want to get things moving along again.  For most people, some shifting back and forth between looser and harder stools is expected, as well as some alternating between going more or less.  For people with IBS that alternates, this cycle is usually exaggerated.  People with IBS-C (IBS with predominant constipation) have to work extra hard not to be constipated all of the time or most of the time.

 

Many find that keeping a journal to document your bowel movements to be enlightening.  If you start noticing a deviation, it’s best to take care of it right away.  The 1st thing to do is make sure you are hydrated properly. Most recommend drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily… so if you weigh 140 lbs try to drink 70 oz of water daily. Make sure you are ingesting good oils on a daily basis like Olive, coconut oil and foods high in Omega-3’s like Salmon, Sardines, Flax & Chia seeds. Make sure your fiber intake is good with lots of freash veges, fruit and whole grains. You may find you need to consider taking some fiber supplements for a time period.  If you usually only are constipated for a couple of days out of the week, but you’ve been having harder stools for several days in a row, try taking fiber to fix it before it turns into a really frustrating problem.  You don’t need to be full on stopped-up to put a full stop on constipation!

 

Fiber has a cumulative effect.  Many people will only take a few tablets and then wonder why it isn’t working for them.  The reason is usually that they gave up too quickly.  You may need to take fiber for a few days in a row before you notice an improvement.  You might also want to make a supplement like Healthy Bowel Support a standard part of your diet.  This supplement contains organic soluble fiber as well as probiotics, prebiotics and healthy food sources which support healthy bowel function in a natural way and has a regenerative effect on the bowel and gut.  It has also been shown that live plant enzymes like DigestPlus can help with digestion and elimination. Many find these to be helpful in not only turning around a problem but actually preventing problems, so take them regularly!

 

The sooner you catch a problem such as constipation, the easier time you’ll generally have getting past it and resuming regularity and normality.  Again, one of the best cures however is prevention.  Taking Healthy Bowel Support and DigestPlus regularly can help you to prevent constipation from happening in the first place, or reduce its severity,  You also can try boosting your activity levels and reducing stress in your life.  Anything you can do to improve your metabolism and mood can also help you to overcome the woes of a less than optimum digestion and elimination tract.

 

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

 

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

Is IBS Causing My Cramps?

Category : Healthy Products, IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Jan 28th, 2013

One of the many things that many find confusing about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is that it can mimic other conditions.  IBS cramps are easily confused with cramps due to other causes.  If you know you have IBS, one of the things that can be useful to do is try to figure out what’s causing your cramps.  Learning to distinguish the difference between IBS cramps, muscle cramps, and (for women) menstrual cramps can help you to deal with your symptoms effectively.  Sometimes you can experience other cramps which are related to other medical problems in the same area of the body (bladder infections, kidney infections, etc) as well, which can make it even more challenging to tell cramps apart—but even more important.

 

Cramping is a very common IBS symptom.  One thing you may not realize is that the cramping is usually related in part to the muscle groups in your abdomen and back tensing up in response to the difficulties going in on your intestines.  You may be able to relieve some of the pain with a heating pad, calming botanicals (herbs) or a homeopathic remedy.  Nerves in that part of the body can transfer sensations in confusing ways.  Sometime, a simple heating pad to the back may help alleviate pain you think you’re feeling in the front of your abdomen!

 

If you have muscle cramps from other causes, you may find that dealing with IBS cramps is even more challenging because you may find it a struggle to tell IBS cramps apart from cramps caused by other problems or in other areas.  If you have a bad back, you may have a difficult time differentiating between IBS-related pain and pain which has nothing to do with your digestive tract.  One way to try and figure out if your pain is IBS related or not is to try stretching.  If you know that you have muscle cramps unrelated to IBS at times, you may find that stretching relieves the pain right away.  This can stop you from thinking you’re having an IBS episode when you aren’t, and may relieve associated anxiety.

 

Many people tense up their abdomens in response to stress and fear.  So anxiety may also cause cramps in your abdomen, and may also cause you to have digestive problems.  If you’re feeling nervous and you have cramps, there’s a good chance that your nervousness is the root of the problem.  Look for a way to calm down (yoga, prayer, meditation, chamomile tea, homeopathic Calm’s Forte) or distract your self (go for a walk or run) to see if that helps.

 

Women with IBS who haven’t reached menopause can often manage their conditions better by keeping track of menstrual cycles.  If there are certain times during your cycle that you know you tend to get hormonal cramps (this may not happen only during your period; the middle of the cycle is another common time for a spike in symptoms), you can learn to predict when cramps may occur.  This can help you alleviate anxiety, because, once again, you can tell yourself, “It’s just my period—I’m not necessarily having another episode.”  In general, the hormonal changes during your menstrual periods tend to cause health conditions to flare as well, so don’t be surprised if you do get episodes during your period which are more severe than your usual ones.  Knowing that they will probably settle down when your period is over can help you get through it though.

 

Managing IBS symptoms is challenging because IBS not only can feel similar to other conditions, but can also interact with other conditions and be influenced by hormonal fluctuations.  The more you learn to listen to your body, the better you’ll become at distinguishing different types of cramps and treating them appropriately for fast relief.

 

Remember to take good care of your body before, during and after episodes with correct nutrition and healthy balance in your life!

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

 

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Menstruation

Category : Healthy Products, IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Jan 9th, 2013

 

If you’re a woman with IBS, you may have noticed that your symptoms seem to get worse during your menstrual period.  Indeed, fluctuations in your hormones can cause changes in your condition throughout the month, not just at the time of your period.  You’re not just imagining it, though; it’s well documented that IBS can get worse during your menstrual period.  If you’ve gone into “remission” and your IBS is mostly better, you may feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time each month when your symptoms suddenly flare out of nowhere.

 

Not only does IBS tend to flare up during women’s periods, but it also can be difficult if not impossible to distinguish between IBS-related cramping and period-related cramping.  This is in part because both IBS and period cramps involve pelvic and abdominal muscles.  Since the same muscle groups can tighten in response to either IBS or your period, your period cramps may feel like indigestion, and indigestion may feel like period cramps.  This can be especially confusing if you have PMS, since you may think your period has come early when it’s actually your IBS flaring in response to the hormonal changes right before menstruation.

 

Is there anything you can do about IBS fluctuations during your menstrual cycle?  That depends on a lot of factors.  Some women have found it helpful to start taking birth control pills.  For others that may not be a great option.  Taking birth control can regulate the hormone levels for some (progesterone and estrogen), which in turn may alleviate some of the symptoms which you associate with your menstrual period.  These symptoms may include IBS flares though taking birth control can come with its own risks and though may help alleviate certain symptoms does not cure the cause.   Since every woman’s body is highly individual, there’s no guarantee that birth control will reduce or eliminate IBS flares.  And different types of birth control may be more or less effective.  Many have found balancing their hormones homeopathically to make a long term difference.

What are the symptoms you might experience during your period?  Some women report constipation, while others report diarrhea—and some patients report a measure of both.  Gas and bloating are very common.  Your exact symptoms will probably depend on the type of IBS that you have and the specific nuances of your own individual body.

 

Another reason that IBS flares are associated with women’s periods may have to do with anxiety and depression.  Both of these psychological imbalances associated with premenstrual symptoms can cause IBS symptoms to flare.  Just as IBS, depression and anxiety can feed into each other, so can depression, anxiety, and menstruation.  Both problems are very common symptoms of PMS, and may persist through menstruation.  If your anxiety and depression are flaring, odds are that it will cause your IBS to flare as well.  So when you get around to that time of the month, you may have not one, but three issues, all of which feed on each other and get stronger until your hormonal balance shifts again.

 

How can you manage your symptoms?  The first thing you can do is be aware.  When you get around to that time of the month and you start experiencing worse IBS symptoms, remind yourself, “It’s that time of the month.  Nothing is ‘wrong.’  I just have to wait it out.”  This should reduce associated anxiety.  You also may want to take extra time to rest, and stay away from foods which trigger your IBS.  You might also try eating foods which seem to help you, like lemon juice or ginger to reduce gas and bloating and try not to eat sugar or even overeating in general. You could also take fiber supplements if you have constipation.  Many women have found relief not only for their IBS symptoms but for their hormonal imbalance as well with the all natural ingredients in the  Irritable Bowel Syndrome kit!

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

IBS…is it Serious?

Category : IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Dec 30th, 2012

 

IBS, unlike IBD, is not generally considered a “serious” illness though to one experiencing IBS and the disruption in their lives, it is very serious!  Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t actually an illness at all, although in post-infectious cases it may be caused by one.  Instead, it is a group of symptoms and referred to as a “condition.”  IBS may make you more prone to digestive ailments, but won’t cause you to go on to develop cancer or inflammatory bowel disease or IBD (both serious diseases).  While IBS is generally not a serious condition, there can be exceptions to that rule.  The symptoms usually are mild to moderate, but for some people they can be severe and may reduce their quality of life.  There are also serious situations which can occur at the onset of post-infectious IBS which may require immediate medical attention.

 

This post was inspired by the recent tribulations of a friend who was in a great deal of abdominal pain.  She was experiencing vomiting and ongoing constipation.  She was unable to defecate effectively for several weeks.  The pain was so intense she thought at first that it was a kidney stone.  Since she had had several kidney stones in the past, she decided to simply wait to pass the stone.  Gradually, though, it dawned on her that this situation was different, and that something else had to be going on.  So she went to the ER.  Tests were run, and came up negative, which is what you’d expect with a diagnosis of IBS.  IBS is not a disease, so there would be no signs of infection.  She also came up clear for screenings for diseases like cancer or IBD.

 

The doctors concluded that she had a severe case of post-infectious IBS.  Post-infectious IBS can sometimes happen after a case of food poisoning.  Your body is able to kill the infection, but a “shadow” of the infection remains like a scar.  Your GI tract remains sensitive, reacting as though it still is infected even though it isn’t anymore.  These symptoms may last a few weeks, a few months, several years, or a lifetime.  Interestingly, for reasons unknown, many cases self-resolve around the three year mark.

 

This story about our friend is relevant because she was experiencing severe compaction as a result of her post-infectious IBS.  The pain she was experiencing was the result of her GI tract carrying 5-8 pounds of accumulated waste and impinging on her other organs.  This kind of compaction can actually kill a person within 10 days.  The waste not only presses on other organs, but is also poisonous if it remains in the body for too long.

 

The lesson here is that while IBS is usually not a grave condition, it can cause severe symptoms, particularly directly after an infection which spawns the IBS.  These symptoms require treatment and it is recommended to do some ‘repair’ work for your gut following.  If you’ve had a bad case of food poisoning and your symptoms are lingering, you may have post-infectious IBS.  If your body seems to be adapting and adjusting, you’ll probably be fine.  If however, you’re experiencing severe compaction (or ongoing diarrhea and difficulty holding down water), you should seek help immediately.

 

Even though IBS will not lead to cancer or IBD, a bad enough acute case can be just as lethal if it goes untreated.  After you receive treatment and your body has a chance to adjust (and your initial infection is wiped out), you should start feeling better, though it may be a long road to recovery.  Many have found healing botanicals, pre & probiotics and especially homeopathic help to be most advantages in speeding the recovery process.

 

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

 

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com

Common IBS Trigger Foods

Category : IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome · (1) Comment · by Dec 18th, 2012

 

There is no guarantee that a single food item is going to be a trigger food for everyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but there are certain foods that are common triggers for symptoms across the board for many different people.  These are only ideas for foods to avoid; you should test them out yourself and observe how they impact your condition, since some of them may do nothing negative to you.  Also be alert for other foods which cause you problems which aren’t on this list; a food that most people are fine with may cause you distress…often a food dairy can help you discover which foods fall into this category.

Common stressors are:

 

  • Dairy products.  Dairy products upset plenty of people with and without IBS since lactose intolerance is actually the norm for many healthy human adults.  If you’re lactose tolerant and you’re an adult, count yourself lucky.  Even if you do have lactose problems, you may not be intolerant of all dairy products; you might have problems with milk and cheese but do fine with yogurt and butter for example.  Keeping a food journal can help you figure out whether lactose is triggering your IBS or not, and if so, what types of dairy are okay for your system and which aren’t. Many have found raw dairy to be fine when they could not handle pasteurized at all…again, we are all individuals so see how it is with you.

 

  • Certain high-fiber foods, specifically those with insoluble fiber.  Not that fiber isn’t good for you overall, but don’t be surprised if foods like high-fiber cereal, popcorn, nuts, seeds, crackers, or breads trigger your symptoms.  As with dairy, some high-fiber foods may cause you problems while others may have no effect on you.  And as with dairy, this doesn’t affect everyone.

 

  • Fructose.  This could come in the form of sugar, fruit juice, honey, or artificial sweetener.  Sugar in particular is prone to giving people problems.  Try Stevia as a natural, herbal alternative which is much healthier for you.  And if you do eat sugary food, you’ll probably have an easier time digesting it if you also eat other food at the same time. Many with IBS have found that Agave is particularly bothersome as well.

 

  • Garlic or onions.  These foods are both good for you, but they can be a bit strong and acerbic for some people with IBS.  Both are usually easier to digest if cooked first, and they may be fine if you moderate how much you eat.  On that note, spicy food is another trigger for a lot of people with IBS.  You may want to try ordering milder versions of the dishes you enjoy to see if you fare better.

 

  • Fatty foods or foods with unhealthy oils.  Fat and oil can both trigger IBS symptoms.  Look for leaner meat, cut out the fried foods, and also think about investing in a healthy cooking oil like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, which is less likely to cause you gas, bloating, cramping, and other symptoms.

 

  • Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee.  Both caffeine and alcohol are common IBS triggers and carbonated drinks.  Think about what you’re drinking and not just what you’re eating.

 

Once again, there are no hard rules on IBS triggers.  You may have no problem with some, most or all of these foods and have problems with others not listed here, but most people with IBS can probably look at this list and remember some incidents which demonstrate that these foods indeed have caused issues.  You may not need to entirely cut them out of your diet either, but consider moderating them instead.  And some you may be able to eat like normal.  Also look for highly acidic foods in your diet and try replacing them with more alkaline foods.  That’s one way you can help to regulate your stomach acid and avoid extra gas and heartburn.

 

Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

 

www.DiverticulitisInfo.com