IBS Awareness

by James Durham – Nutritionist – Life Rituals Oakham. james@liferituals.co.uk
Let’s look at what can go wrong in our gut that leads to IBS. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that when conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), gastritis, and colon cancer have been ruled out, a doctor will often diagnose IBS. The symptoms can be wide-ranging, from bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and reflux to more systemic symptoms like joint pain, skin issues, brain fog and fatigue.

There are four broad areas of the gut where things can go wrong, and we’ll look at each in turn.

Digestion and Absorption
When we think of the gut’s function, digestion and absorption are generally the first things that come to mind.

It doesn’t matter how good our diet is if we’re not properly digesting and absorbing our food. Problems with this issue often comes down to our digestive system not producing sufficient enzymes to break down the food we eat properly. This could be due to a lack of nutrients, but we may not be preparing our body to eat if we eat on the go in a stressed environment. Cooking meals from scratch – whilst not always possible – prepares us for digestion by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes.

Signs your digestion and absorption could be compromised include:

  • Indigestion and/or nausea after eating, pale stools that float, and Diarrhea > So, what can you do to support digestion and absorption?
  • Reduce stress and don’t eat in a stressed state; be mindful of meal quantity and
    timing – not too close to bedtime.
  • Consider eating more soluble fibre.
  • Moderate fat intake – healthy fats from avocado, extra virgin olive oil, fish in moderation
  • Consume foods that increase bile, such as eggs, soya, liver, scallops, tuna, turkey, chicken, seeds, salmon, and seaweed.
  • Reduce fluid intake right before and during meals; this can dilute stomach acid.
  • Integrity and ImmunityHere, I’m referring to the integrity of the gut lining, a vital interface between the external environment—in this case, the food we eat—and our internal environment. The intestinal lining must be permeable enough to allow digested particles into the bloodstream but not so permeable that bacteria and undigested particles can slip through.

    Your gut integrity may be compromised if you:
  • React to some food with a rash, headache, diarrhoea, palpitations
  • Feel discomfort when eating certain foods – cereals, gluten, dairy
  • Have difficulty maintaining weight
  • Have a history of recurrent NSAID use (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), e.g. ibuprofen or naproxen.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>All these symptoms can be signs the gut lining is compromised. To support and help repair the lining, we can:
  • Reduce aggravating foods – consider an elimination diet, e.g. Paleo, low FODMAP
  • Stress reduction and sleep routine
  • Consider meal quantity and timing
  • Focus on real foods, vegetables, and fruit. Reduce processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeine (sorry!).
  • Supplement with L-glutamine, vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, and probiotics.
  • Imbalanced gut bacteria
    The balance of the bacterial community in our gut has wide-ranging effects throughout the body, from helping digestion and immunity to influencing mood and cognition. However, this community is delicate and can be knocked out of balance by a range of things, including:
  • Antibiotics
  • Chronic stress
  • Highly processed diet / low fibre diet
  • Food poisoning
  • PPIs / Low stomach acid
    Your gut bacterial community may be imbalanced or ‘dysbiotic’ if you suffer with the
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loose stools/diarrhoea

We take these steps to support and rebalance the microbiome

  • Follow an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks. This could be a Paleo diet, a low FODMAP diet, or a Mediterranean diet—anything that moves you away from a standard, overly processed diet. Removing foods that commonly cause reactivity reduces the fuel for inflammatory bacteria.
  • Reintroduce foods one at a time and see what you react to
  • Once your improvements plateau, you can introduce a clinical-grade probiotic for 2-3 months and continue to broaden your diet as your symptoms allow.
  • If you still have issues at this stage, use herbal antimicrobials to target stubborn, problematic bacteria.

We Also Help Motility

  • Reduce snacking; allow at least 3-4 hours between meals.
  • Routine is key and meal timing
  • Stress reduction
  • Hydration and increasing soluble fibre like oats, apples, rice, and quinoa.
  • Pre-biotic supplements, which will contain inulin, FOS and/or GOS
  • Herbal teas with digestion-supporting properties like ginger, peppermint, fennel and
  • Probiotics (live bacteria)/Prokinetic supplement
    IBS is an umbrella term that covers various symptoms. Fortunately, there are several tools we can use to positively impact outcomes, from diet and stress reduction techniques to supplements and awareness of meal timing. Where to start will depend on the root cause of your symptoms. If you’d like to help dig down and uncover the unique reason for your gut distress, feel free to book a discovery call with me, James Dunham, a qualified nutritionist. Life Rituals Oakham 01572 868579 james@liferituals.co.uk.