IBS: The Silent Irritator & Destroyer Of Our Greatest Assets – Happiness & Time

IBS plays a huge part in leading an uncomfortable and anxious life. Any stressful event triggers gastrointestinal distress to the point in which it affects the quality of our lives. About 18 years ago, my gastroenterologist concluded that I had IBS. IBS – what exactly is this silent life killer, and what brings on a flair up? Well, IBS is not only triggered by certain food groups – it tends to rear its ugly head when stressful mini-events start to build up. To this day, no one know’s what causes IBS. It seems to differ from person to person. The strange thing about this disorder is that it can change from day to day and from one stressful event to another. What I mean is that one particular food group can cause a flare-up, while three days later, it doesn’t. How is that for stressful unpredictability on unsuspected chronic sufferers? 

Some common symptoms can be:

• Abdominal pain and discomfort• Stomach bloating• Water retention• Chronic diarrhea or constipation (usually altering between the two )• Worse symptoms during hormonal shifts – such as menstruation If you are anything like me and suffer from gastrointestinal distress regularly, it may seem like any stressful situation can set you right off. But, unfortunately, I have found that no amount of so-called meditation or relaxation helps. Once the problem faces me front and centre, that’s when a train wreck of symptoms. Stress doesn’t usually face you in bite-size chunks – it’s always a full-blown event. Eating food can also bring on symptoms. Putting anything into your stomach during a flare-up can cause even more distress – and exasperate the symptoms. So much so that is going out, socialising and being yourself is out of the question. Running and hiding away can sometimes be the only option.  Coming out of the IBS cave-like being re-born again. Pain-free at last & ready to pick up where we left off. IBS can be pretty irritating and, not to mention, create embarrassing symptoms. No one understands the sufferer, and I don’t get why you resist eating bowls of pasta, alcohol, junk food, potato chips and curry. When these foods face me during a work function – I go into complete panic mode. My initial thought is, “how in the hell am I going to get out of this one?” And there it goes again. I have suffered this for many years, and with age, it seems to be increasing in its severity. In addition, chronic stress and hormonal fluctuations seem to be a lot more common during this stage of my life. Working from home and lockdowns are a blessing for sufferers like me – we get to hide away and deal with our symptoms in peace. When my mum was first diagnosed with cancer, the first thing that happened to my body was the shutdown of my digestion – and it hasn’t been the same since April 2021; I’ve had symptoms galore, and with that comes weight loss & energy drain. Being in the fight or flight mode every day causes digestion to stop and can inhibit the absorption of the foods you eat. So it’s essential to monitor this to ensure you don’t become malnourished. 

Here are some common irritant foods for IBS. Avoid them as much as you possibly can

  • Onion, Cabbage, brussels sprouts, dried beans, lentils. cauliflower
  • Lactose foods like milk, ice cream, yoghurts and creams
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Artifical sweeteners such as aspartame, Sorbitol and mannitol.
  • Any kinds of soft drinks, even the diet variety.

Over the years, I’ve built an arsenal of tools to deal with this. Here are my favourite quick healing tips that permanently save me from days of distress. I hope they help you out as well when a flair up takes place. 

My recommendations for anyone suffering are as follows:

  • Juice cleanses Foods like veggies and fruit (use only a tiny amount of the pulp as it can cause gas. Make veggies the more significant component, and beware of fruit higher in fructose. These fruits can trigger a gas reaction in the gut. Stick with green bananas, berries and maybe some apples. If you can, juice for at least 7 to 10 days, just using live foods, some fats like nuts and avocado. It could leave you a bit hungry, but the relief from digestive issues will leave you satisfied and full of energy. It’s worth the hunger pangs!
  • Drink lots of water with lemon or lime juice to flush everything out of your system. I find that lemon gives the extra edge and helps to alkalise the body too. If you would like to go the extra mile, use a tablespoon of olive oil before you start drinking the water and lemon.
  • Practice intermittent fasting. This has been my saviour throughout the years. Eliminating the need to eat for long periods dramatically decreases the symptoms and helps my digestion recover and unwind for a while. During my fast, I drink lots of water, herbal teas and try to massage my stomach.
  • I am walking as much as possible. Walking has always helped me to ease indigestion, constipation, and movement, eliminates pain and cramping. Walking helps to trigger a digestion reaction when constipated and eliminates my stress levels by taking a break and changing the scenery by being outdoors. I can find that sometimes weight training increases my IBS symptoms. On days like this, I move onto some light cardio instead.
  • Peppermint oil, tea and when you massage your stomach. Peppermint has miraculous qualities; It helps to ease digestive irritability and also helps in relaxation. Peppermint also helps diminish headache symptoms – just by smelling this beautiful oil. I always use it on my sore muscles, as it decreases inflammation almost instantly.
  • Colonics once per month. Colonics helped to alleviate my symptoms. A colonic is when water is filtered through your small and large intestine, allowing you to eliminate old waste products and gas. You may get relief for about 2-3 weeks, but there is a requirement to do this regularly. It may not work for everyone, but clearing any waste from my colon relieves my body of constant inflammation. After my session, I’m usually exhausted to the point of needing sleep. It’s perfectly normal, and it is essential to allow your body to rest after a session. I don’t think I will ever feel energetic and full of life after one of these. That usually comes along 3-4 days later.
  • Hot water bottle or heat pack on your tummy. I do this pretty much every single day. I use peppermint oil on the wheat pack and allow the warmth and oil to calm my digestion. Peppermint oil is fantastic for period pain or indigestion. The heat and cooling of peppermint make a marvellous combination.

Unfortunately, I have not found a cure for my irritability – but being in a situation where you expect a parent to pass away doesn’t help. Seeing someone you love suffer every single day can cause distress in anyone. Riding the tides of emotional upsets is perhaps the only way anyone can overcome situations such as these. WIth everything in life, it passes – but when it involves the ones we love, it may take a little longer. Suffering may become apparent for an extended timeframe. If this is the case, make it as easy as you can on your digestion by eating foods that may be bland or require no effort in the stomach and colon. Soups, broths and juices may not be appealing but will give you some relief to get on with life for the time being. It too shall pass eventually

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