Over 60 million people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Are you one of them? Symptoms of IBS are uncomfortable and painful and include bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, and pain. Many conventional treatments for this condition merely hide the symptoms and don’t address the underlying cause of the irritable bowel. In fact, many physicians simply tell patients that their IBS is an emotional or psychological issue and they need to eat more fiber, prescribe sedatives or anti-spasm medications which don’t get at the root of the issue.
Why do I have IBS?
The truth is, there are things that can be done to address the underlying reasons for an irritable bowel to develop in the first place. There are two primary reasons why a person develops IBS. The first is food allergies/sensitivities and the second is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine.
The importance of gut health and IBS
The small intestine has a protective lining that keeps out toxic material like bacteria and food that is not digested. It also contains 60% of the immune system. If this protective lining becomes compromised and begins to break down, it will activate an immune response. There are many reasons why this delicate and important protective layer can break down including:
- Antibiotic use
- Consuming sugar-laden foods
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Intestinal infection
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
The immune response, that is triggered by the breakdown of the lining, irritates the intrinsic nervous system and causes irritable bowel and other symptoms such as allergies, arthritis, mood problems and autoimmunity. All of these are reasons enough to take the health of our gut very, very seriously.
If the microbial system in your gut is out of whack you will not be healthy. We have 3 pounds of bacteria, over 500 species living in our gut and the good bacteria must outweigh the bad bacteria to keep things balanced and the rest of the body healthy.
When the bad bacteria takes over
When the bad bacteria take over and crowd out the good bacteria, they begin to ferment digested food, especially starchy foods or food full of sugar. This overgrowth of bad bacteria can cause IBS and leads to bloating after meals. If you experience bloating after a meal, chances are the bad bacteria are producing gas as they munch on whatever you had for your last meal.
It is fairly easy to diagnose if bad bacteria have taken over your gut using a breath test. This test measures the gas made by the bacteria. You can also have a urine test that measures byproducts of bacteria after they are absorbed into your system.
Food allergies and IBS
Food allergies can also lead to IBS. It is important to note that these are not true allergies in the sense of allergies but rather low-grade reactions to food that drive a number of chronic symptoms including IBS.
A recently published paper in the British Medical Journal found that cutting out certain foods – which we will discuss shortly – from the diet can bring about remarkable improvements in IBS. Clearly, the role of food allergies and IBS must not be ignored.
Other reasons for IBS
While there are predominately two identifiable reasons for IBS, an overgrowth of bad bacteria and food sensitivities, there are other reasons why someone may present with symptoms including:
- Too few digestive enzymes
- Parasites in the gut
- A deficiency in zinc and magnesium
- Toxicity due to heavy metals
This means, there is not always a one size fits all solution to IBS but rather that all those seeking to remedy their condition should first and foremost attain the best diagnosis possible so that they can seek out the appropriate remedy for their condition.
How To Get Rid Of IBS – 16 Home Remedies That Work
There is much you can do at home to improve and alleviate the symptoms of IBS and work towards a renewal of your gut health.
1. Avoid These IBS Activating Foods
The food we eat can either fuel IBS or help to remedy the condition. Here is a list of foods that you should avoid if you have symptoms of IBS.
- Conventional dairy – Conventional dairy is hard to digest.
- Sugar – Bad bacteria will feed off of sugar making IBS worse.
- Refined flour – Bad bacteria also feed off of refined flour.
- Caffeine – Caffeine may stimulate the digestive tract and lead to inflammation.
Spicy food – Spicy foods will aggravate IBS.
Grains – Whole grains contain phytic acid and starch which will irritate the intestinal lining.
Gluten – Removing gluten from your diet can help with IBS symptoms.
Allergens – Removing foods that you may be allergic to can reduce IBS symptoms – common allergens include gluten, nuts, shellfish, and dairy.
2. Eat More Of These IBS Friendly Foods
Just as there are certain foods you should avoid, there are others that will help build up the integrity of your gut and encourage healthy bacteria.
- Water – Staying hydrated will keep your digestive system healthy.
- Raw cultured dairy – This includes things like kefir, raw organic goat milk and raw yogurt.
- Bone broth – Homemade bone broth contains proline and glycine which make collagen which can help repair compromises in the intestinal wall.
- Healthy fats – Healthy fats like those found in coconut oil, avocados, eggs, salmon, and ghee can help heal the gut.
Steamed fruit – Steamed apples and pears are easy on the stomach and provide essential vitamins and minerals to promote healing.
Fresh vegetable juice – Fresh veggies provide essential electrolytes and promote healing as long as they don’t exacerbate diarrhea.
Lean and clean protein – People who have IBS often have a protein deficiency. Consume at least 3 ounces of lean and clean protein per meal.
- Steamed veggies – Lightly steamed, non-starchy veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts provide helpful nutrients for healing.
3. Consume More Probiotics
High-quality probiotics will help repopulate friendly gut bacteria and crowd out harmful bacteria.
You should also consider a high quality probiotic supplement. This Ultra-50 Probiotics Supplement is designed specifically to help with digestive issues, including IBS.
4. Consume More Prebiotics
Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that feed healthy bacteria. They can be found in onions, leeks, beans, oatmeal, garlic, dandelion leaves, and chicory root. Other natural sources include fibrous fruits and vegetables. Most of their fiber is contained within the peel, so eat the skin as often as you can to boost your levels.
5. Take A Digestive Enzyme Supplement
Digestive enzymes will improve the ability of your body to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. This will, in turn, help your gut heal. For best results, take two digestive enzymes before each meal. This Green Label Premium Digestive Enzymes Supplement is one of the best reviewed on Amazon.
5. Aloe Vera Juice
Fresh aloe vera juice, with no additives, is soothing to the intestinal lining. Drink one glass daily to help with IBS.
6. Fish Oil
Fish oil contains EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids which reduces inflammation in the digestive system. Take a daily fish oil supplement to boost these levels.
7. L-glutamine Powder
Glutamine is an amino acid that helps bring healing to the digestive tract. It is especially useful for people with chronic diarrhea. Take 5 grams twice daily for best results. This Evlution Nutrition Glutamine Powder packs five grams per serving.
8. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm comes from the inner bark of the red elm tree. In a powder form, slippery elm can help heal irritated digestive tract tissues. To use, mix one teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder with one teaspoon of coconut sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and two cups of boiling water. Drink twice a day.
Known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can help reduce IBS symptoms. A pilot study found that participants who took two turmeric tablets for eight weeks experienced reduced IBS symptoms. Not only does turmeric reduce inflammation but it also lessens abnormal muscle contractions. For best results, take 300-400 mg two to three times per day. This Amazon Elements Turmeric Complex packs 400 mg of turmeric per capsule. Plus, it also includes black pepper which increases the bioavailabilty of turmeric.
10. Peppermint Oil Capsules
Peppermint oil can help reduce abdominal spasms and pain associated with IBS. In a review of four studies involving the use of peppermint oil capsules to treat IBS, it was found that there was a 57% reduction in participants experiencing persistent IBS symptoms after taking peppermint oil capsules.
One to two capsules taken about twenty minutes before a meal can significantly reduce discomfort. These Heather’s Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Capsules have 50% more enteric coating than the industry standard to help the capsules pass through your stomach and reach your intestines.
11. Carob Powder
Carob is a brown powder that is extracted from the carob bean. It is often used as a substitute for chocolate. To soothe intestines mix one tablespoon of organic carob powder with applesauce.
12. Licorice Root
Licorice root has been used for thousands of years as a digestive aid. It is best to use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which is available over the counter, or from this page on Amazon, without a prescription. DGL helps to heal the digestive tract while reducing spasms which can cause diarrhea.
Lifestyle Changes & Alternative Therapies To Treat IBS
In addition to the home remedies above, there are some important lifestyle changes that can help tremendously with IBS. Additionally, there are numerous alternative therapies that show promise in treating IBS and its accompanying symptoms.
13. Stress Reduction
The role that stress plays in IBS has been well documented. Because of this, it is necessary that all those suffering from IBS learn to handle stress in their life. Stress is one of those things that is hard to escape but with the right tools, we can learn how to cope and even minimize stressful situations in our life.
Learn how to say “no” more, learn how to take time to be alone and relax and learn how to spot the triggers in your life that cause you to stress. For some people it may mean staying off the freeway at rush hour, for others, it might mean not overcommitting. Whatever your trigger, learn how to identify it and put measures in place to protect yourself. Many people find things like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, aromatherapy and journaling helpful.
Besides helping improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing, exercise can specifically help bowel regularity and as mentioned above, reduce stress. The important thing about exercise is that you are consistent. Find something you like to do and stick to it!
A number of studies show that hypnosis can help reduce the symptoms of IBS. One British study found that 71% of those suffering from IBS had an improvement in their IBS after attending 12 weeks of hypnotherapy. Out of this group, 81% had relief for more than five years while practicing self-hypnosis. If you are in need of a certified professional in your area consult the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Studies show that acupuncture, which has been proven effective to treat chronic pain, could help with intestinal bloating. If you choose to try acupuncture, be sure to consult a trained professional acupuncturist who knows about IBS and its symptoms.