Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Holistic Nutrition

digestive health gut health holistic nutrition leaky gut stress management Jul 25, 2023
IBS symptoms

If you're one of the millions of individuals struggling with IBS, you understand the challenges it presents. The uncomfortable symptoms can disrupt your daily life and the solutions on the market don’t offer long-term relief. This leaves you searching for practical solutions to alleviate IBS and find relief through effective IBS treatment, right?

IBS treatment is a complex topic, and while the exact causes of this gastrointestinal disorder remain elusive, emerging research suggests that stress, dietary choices, and gut microbiota play pivotal roles in its development and severity.

Let’s explore the transformative power of holistic nutrition and intentional IBS treatment!

Stress Management: Easing the Burden on Your Gut

Research has shown a strong link between stressful life events and IBS, making stress management a crucial aspect of IBS relief. Incorporate the following relaxation techniques into your daily routine to improve your gastrointestinal symptoms:

  • Breathe: Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and alleviate stress. When we get more oxygen to our brains, we feel and function a lot better!
  • Mindful Eating: A practice that encourages us to be fully present and aware of our eating experience. By slowing down, savoring each bite, and paying attention to our body's hunger and fullness cues, we can enhance digestion and reduce overeating. Practicing mindful eating can also aid in the "rest and digest" process. In the context of IBS treatment, mindful eating helps identify trigger foods and empowers us to make informed dietary choices for better gut health.
  • Meditation: Dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation, which can have a positive impact on your gut health and IBS treatment. Here is a great 5-minute deep-breathing meditation to capture two benefits in a single move!
  • Go for a Walk: Leave the headphones at home and pay attention to your surroundings during your walks.
  • Reflect on Your Physical State: Take a moment to assess your physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. It’s like a DIY body scan!
  • Imagine Being Somewhere Pleasant: Create a mental image of a place you enjoy and focus on the sensory details. Are you at the beach with the warm sun on your (sunscreen-protected) skin? Maybe you’re cozy at a cabin in the woods! Wherever you are, the imagery will help distract you from any physical or mental discomfort you are feeling. 

Check out this blog where I expand on how stress affects your gut.

Lifestyle Changes: Exercise and Sleep for Gut Health

Lifestyle changes are helpful for IBS treatment as they can help further reduce stress and anxiety. Your body will love the benefits from improved sleep quality, increased physical activity, and a strengthened digestive system.

  • Exercise: The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, which can be as simple as 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That seems manageable, right? Regular physical activity can positively impact IBS symptoms and keep systems working efficiently.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Create a sleep-friendly environment by ensuring your room is dark and cool. Sleeping in a cool room improves sleep quality by lowering body temperature, promoting faster sleep onset, optimizing REM sleep, preventing night sweats, and supporting the natural production of melatonin, leading to a more restorative and rejuvenating sleep experience. Additionally, I recommend turning off screens one hour before bedtime and unwinding with a book or a cup of tea for a more restful sleep! 

Dietary Changes: Nourishing Your Gut

Dietary changes are crucial for IBS treatment. Altering your diet can alleviate symptoms, reduce trigger foods that may worsen IBS, promote gut health, and address specific dietary sensitivities or intolerances that contribute to digestive discomfort.

  • Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is essential for optimal gut function and IBS treatment. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
  • Low FODMAP Foods: Incorporate gut-friendly foods such as carrots, cucumbers, spinach, bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, and blueberries, which are low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs), a significant aspect of IBS treatment.
  • Fiber Intake: Gradually increase your fiber intake by 2 to 3 grams per day to help prevent symptoms. Focus on soluble fiber found in foods like beans, oats, and fruits, as it may be better tolerated by those with IBS.
  • Limit or Avoid High FODMAP Foods: Reduce your consumption of beans, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, and dairy products, as they can trigger reactions and prolong IBS relief.
  • Address Food Allergies and Intolerances: Identify and avoid foods that you may be sensitive to, such as gluten and lactose-rich dairy products. It's helpful to keep a log of your symptoms after eating certain foods!

Supplements: Nourishing Your Gut Health

These specialized supplements address nutrient deficiencies, combat inflammation, and restore gut balance, paving the way to lasting relief from uncomfortable symptoms, revitalized energy, and a renewed sense of well-being. The right supplements have the power to completely transform your gut health and IBS!

  • Vitamin D: Get tested for vitamin D deficiency, as it is common in IBS sufferers. Vitamin D helps individuals with IBS by regulating the immune system, supporting gut barrier function, managing pain, balancing gut microbiota, and potentially improving mood and mental health through its effects on the gut-brain axis. However, it should be integrated as part of a comprehensive IBS management plan under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Consider taking digestive enzymes to aid in food breakdown and nutrient absorption. Especially for those with IBS-C, irritable bowel syndrome can deplete the nutrients in your body.
  • Ginger: Use ginger to remove toxins, reduce inflammation, and soothe digestive discomfort. Enjoy ginger tea between meals or incorporate ginger root into your recipes.
  • Peppermint: Reduce inflammation and ease digestive discomfort with peppermint. Sip on peppermint tea after meals.
  • Turmeric: Decrease inflammation, digestive discomfort, and enhance bowel movements with turmeric. Try turmeric tea blends or add turmeric root to your recipes.
  • Probiotics: Support your gut's microbial populations with probiotics found in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. You can also take a daily probiotic under the guidance of your trusted health professional. 

IBS treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Managing IBS effectively requires a holistic approach, combining stress management, dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle adjustments. While the tips provided here can make a significant difference, it's essential to consult a trained nutrition specialist for personalized guidance and support in your journey toward better gut health. Don't hesitate to seek professional assistance to optimize your well-being and manage IBS more effectively.

Whether you've just been diagnosed with IBS or have been struggling for years, I'm here to guide you on your journey toward better digestive health and effective IBS treatment. From stress management techniques to dietary adjustments and the incorporation of supplements, we'll explore a range of solutions that can be tailored to suit your specific needs, supporting your overall health and well-being during IBS treatment.

Contact me for a FREE 15-Minute Discovery Call to start your journey to good health.

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.