Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The Natural Nutritional Approach

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The Natural Nutritional Approach

woman-having-irritable-bowel-syndrome-problem-LSWCIrritable Bowel Syndrome – The Natural Nutritional Approach

by Bruce Bonner, MASc., RNCP

Digestive conditions are prevalent and rapidly on the rise in our society. Accounting for a large number of visits to the doctor’s office, the once embarrassing and secretive conditions are openly discussed even at dinner parties! Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive disorders and is what lead me into my career as a Nutritional Consultant. I realized as I was seeing many different health professionals the one thing I really had control over was what I consumed and the changes I made had a significant impact on how I felt. Now, 19 years later and much healthier, a large portion of my practice involves helping people to overcome their IBS naturally. If you are unfamiliar with IBS and its prominence please read the following statistics from The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation:

  • Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world.
  • 5 million Canadians suffer from IBS with 120,000 Canadians developing IBS each year
  • Each year, the economic and health care burden of IBS is in excess of $6.5 billion. This does not include monies spent on either over-the-counter drugs or prescriptions
  • A patient with IBS misses an average of 13 work days a year. At $72.60, this indirect cost represents $8 billion of lost productivity each year.
  • About 40% of IBS sufferers seek medical attention. Those with milder symptoms typically end up self-treating through life style changes, food avoidance, and non-prescription remedies.

Description Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder. Those affected may experience abdominal pain, bloating and an irregular bowel pattern alternating between constipation and diarrhea. People with IBS may also have associated upper abdominal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, bloating and abdominal pain.

IBS is a functional condition with no discernable disease and it is very important not to self-diagnose. More significant diseases may be causing your symptoms  such as Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Make sure to consult your doctor to get the correct diagnosis.

Common Triggers

Foods: it can be anything as each person is unique yet there are main offenders like caffeine, high fat foods (especially processed oils), gluten grains like (wheat, rye, spelt etc.), dairy, soy, artificial additives (like sweeteners) and processed foods in general.

Stress: emotional stress and an overly hectic lifestyle without rest can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome.

Helpful Strategies and Therapies

Biofeedback, meditation, yoga, regular exercise, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture have all been shown to be helpful tools in tackling IBS and are excellent complements to dietary modifications.

What To Do On Your Own Before or After Diagnosis

Once you have your IBS diagnosis you want to makes changes to get better. There are also those who cannot get to see their doctor for weeks to months but want to try something to eliminate symptoms. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Begin with one or two changes so you know what is working, too many changes can be confusing!

  • Eliminate items like gluten, dairy, processed foods for at least 1 week.
  • Pay attention to stress levels and breath deeply when you feel you are getting too worked up.
  • Slow down at meal time and chew your food well. Use some soluble fiber from ground flax or chia seed .Minimize insoluble fiber like hard bran cereals as too much can irritate the bowel lining.
  • Add fermented foods like sauerkraut, take probiotics and digestive enzymes to help digestion and support intestinal health.

As stated above, there are many excellent natural strategies/therapies to help you regain your health.

In my practice I test using a biofeedback computerized system to evaluate stress in your body to see what areas need to be nutritionally supported. Furthermore, the biofeedback devices can be used to evaluate food intolerances (not allergies) to see if anything is stressing your body. Often foods are not eliciting an outright immune reaction and come back negative on allergy tests, yet could still pose a problem when consumed too much. It is a great adjunct to getting standard skin prick test and blood test from your medical doctor. Once your stressors are determined we can create a customized nutrition plan and use specific natural supplements to help your body correct nutritional imbalances overcoming your Irritable Bowel Syndrome!