Not exactly a sexy topic but the reality is that 10-15% percent of us suffer with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s a pretty high number. Two out of three sufferers of IBS are women which means we have a huge number of women walking around with something that can be both emotionally and physically debilitating and draining.
The goal for this post is to share information with both those who suffer with IBS and for everyone else to have some understanding of the impact that IBS can have on daily life. The fact is that if you’ve haven’t experienced something, it’s hard to empathize and understand but the reality is that IBS can have a huge impact on every area of our lives, personally, socially and even professionally. I personally have experienced IBS which I think gives me a unique point of view to share with others.
What is IBS?
Let’s see if we can unravel what is occurring with IBS. The label of IBS typically comes after our doctor rules out any other physical reason for our symptoms. It’s a condition of exception and sometimes is a last resort label when nothing else can be found to blame for symptoms that can include diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of the two combined with severe stomach pains, gas and bloating. All this can leave you feeling completed wiped out and our day even our week side-tracked when a flare occurs.
What causes IBS?
Women often find that their IBS flares are related to their menstrual cycle. It’s not uncommon to see an uptick in reactions around the time of their periods. This connection is important and supporting hormonal balance must be addressed to heal IBS.
Stress and how we cope with stress also plays a part in unraveling IBS. Research shows a strong connection between our brains and our gut (digestive system). Many of the neurotransmitters that play a key role in the function of our brains are produced in the gut. This gut-brain connection makes complete sense when we discuss IBS impacting us both physically and emotionally. It’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe anti-anxiety and anti-depressants to attempt to calm the emotional side effects of IBS. For some, this is a beneficial short-term aid to support the process of healing.
Stress management is key to supporting IBS healing. There are many options that can be put into action to reduce and manage stress. Anything from meditation, therapy, prayer, journaling to yoga, mild exercise and EFT tapping. This step also must include a commitment to self-care. Many of us too easily allow caring for others to come before our own health and wellness. We must address this issue and commit to long-term self-care and lifestyle change.
I hate to have to address the elephant in the room but it’s a reality that what we put in our bodies has a huge influence on how we feel. Our food system has changed and the foods we eat directly impact our health. The biggest offenders when we talk about IBS are dairy, eggs, coffee/caffeinated beverages, and carbohydrates specifically wheat/gluten, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, corn and many fruits. An elimination diet combined with a healing protocol of lifestyle change and supplements as needed is a must to get to the cause of IBS. When symptoms are reduced/eliminated then a re-introduction of foods can occur. Unfortunately, this often means a permanent elimination of offending foods.
Sometimes it is necessary to look at imbalances of the bacteria in our guts that is a crucial part of our immune system and digestive health. Eighty percent of our immune system originates in our gut. This fact can’t be ignored and is key to our overall health. If auto-immune conditions are identified, we must work on healing our guts!
How Can We Heal?
Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all fix for IBS. Each of us will present a little differently and will need a slightly different diet based on our sensitivities. Ultimate biochemical individuality! We are all uniquely and wonderfully made! The best way to address IBS is an investigation to figure out what is causing the digestive issues, remove the offending cause and then heal the gut to recovery. This means a long-term lifestyle change to control IBS instead of IBS taking control of our lives. The great news is that healing is possible!
Although some sufferers successfully guide themselves through the healing process. It often takes someone looking from the outside in to make the connections and decipher the specific solution.
Are you ready? I am passionate about helping others heal. We can chat and see how I can best help guide you to healing. Contact me now.
Resources used for preparing this post:
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