No Shakespeare, no medical jargon that’s like Egyptian hieroglyphics, and nothing left unsaid.
Let’s do this.
So, what is IBS?
IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Basically, your big intestine gets irritated and inflamed. This causes your bowel movements to be very frequently or not at all. It will also cause digestion issues. Researchers are still trying to understand the root cause, but The Mayo Clinic suspects that it is due to a bacterial overgrowth, genetics, food sensitivities, or the relationship between your intestinal tract and nervous system.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
- Stomach and lower abdomen cramping.
- Pressure in your stomach. (For me, I was always undoing my jeans at dinner!)
- Aches and pains in the belly after eating. (I always got the crazy grumbles).
- Diarrhea or constipation. (Again, everybody is unique)
- Feeling chained to the washroom and going constantly going throughout the day.
- Gas. (For me, I was gassy all the time).
- Feeling uncomfortable after meals. (I felt slow, lethargic, and like I needed to lay down or “sleep-it-off” to feel better).
How to cure IBS:
IBS can be managed through diet and lifestyle, but there is no magic cure, treatment, or pill that can make it stop. IBS is a “chronic condition that you will need to manage long-term” according to the Mayo Clinic. Some folks take medication for it, but I healed my IBS on my own.
This is what works for me to manage my IBS:
#1: I eat an anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet.
If you read my story, you’ll understand all the crazy sh*t that was going on. This removed the pressure gas, bloating, and frequent washroom runs for me. In addition, I had severe malabsorption issues due to my autoimmune diseases, so switching to a fully plant-powered diet was critical for my intake of vitamins and minerals. In the past, I experimented with meat and fish on and off and I find plants much easier to digest. Ultimately, meat makes me feel lethargic and it takes my body longer to process it.
#2: I cut out gluten and dairy which were two of my biggest IBS triggers.
Gluten and dairy resulted in a lot of bloating, cramping, and pressure in my belly. I have celiac disease, but even if you don’t, gluten still causes gastrointestinal symptoms in people without celiac disease, according to this study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. So, be mindful of your consumption. Plus, Dr. Amy Myers who is a leader in functional medicine, states that “dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten.” It causes digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas too. In addition, the casein protein found in dairy has “a very similar molecular structure to gluten and 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well.” For me, gluten and dairy are no-gos and my life is 100x better without them.
#3: I limit my caffeine intake.
Through an elimination diet, I discovered that caffeine triggers me. So, I limit my intake to one or two cups per day. Man oh man, do I LOVE coffee. And boy, it was hard for me to get off the coffee train. But, the extra caffeine really does make my stomach twist and turn. Also, I find less acidic coffees better for my IBS. I really enjoy the Starbucks Via packets in hot coconut milk. It’s a very mellow coffee. Plus, a latte goes down easier since fat and protein slow the caffeine absorption, so you can ditch the crazy jitters. Note: this is why people are crazy about bulletproof coffee! If I’m drinking coffee on an empty stomach, I’ll add a teaspoon of coconut oil to my coconut latte as a plant-based option.
#4: I stopped drinking alcohol.
Honestly, booze and I don’t get along. It makes me flare up, I get very bloated, it irritates my stomach, and I am in physical pain. For a while in college, I did drink. I just assumed that everyone else felt like sh*t too after they downed a bevvy. I remember going out for a night on the town in one of those sequins, glittery skirts and then unzipping it half way and untucking my top since my belly was so bloated and uncomfortable. Passing on the booze is a tactic that does wonders for my body!
#5: I need to deal with my stress ASAP. Otherwise, my stomach goes awol.
In addition, stress is another factor that causes my IBS to flare up. Because my stress manifests in my stomach, it makes it more difficult for me to digest my food. If I don’t deal with my stress, I’m running for the restroom on the hour. (#Realtalk, folks. No BS here). Here’s how I taught myself to calm down in two seconds with essential oils and taking the time to breathe. (Even if that means going into a washroom stall in the middle of a meeting and taking three deep breaths). Yoga, meditation, gratitude, and mindfulness are all tactics I use to manage my IBS and energetically shift during the day.
Do you have any other tips and tricks to manage your IBS and IBD?
So, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line!
P.S. you might wanna read:
Peace, love, and happy intestines,
-Kelly from The Wild Manifesto
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