Living with an upset tummy, there is help for IBS

Living with an upset tummy, there is help for IBS

When things ‘work’ they can easily go unnoticed… it’s when something starts to ‘glitch’ that everyone knows about it. The same is true for our large intestine, going along in its tireless unwavering motion until one day it doesn’t, and your whole body knows about it.

IBS is characterized by a host of symptoms namely; abdominal pain and cramping, bouts of diarrhea alternating with constipation, bloating, wind and nausea. Often associated with stress, IBS usually appears first in early adolescence or early adulthood and is twice as common in women than men.

While going over your nutritional habits with a fine-tooth comb for any ‘tummy’ issue is the go-to, looking at one’s family history is also important. If a tummy sensitivity runs in your family, it is important to let your doctor know as a part of the diagnostic process, as both celiac disease and wheat (Gluten) allergy need to be excluded before settling on the diagnosis of IBS. IBS only has gastrointestinal symptoms, while celiac disease can have body-wide symptoms, and affect everything from growth to fertility. Patients with celiac who continue to have GI symptoms even on a gluten-free diet, may additionally have IBS - although it’s not too common.

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Living with IBS can be very frustrating with significant side effects on one’s everyday life. Thankfully there are a number of approaches to assist in managing the symptoms namely; nutrition therapy, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, reflexology, yoga, and self-regulation/care are a few.

When dealing with IBS the first step is to analyze one’s diet as this is the beginning of understanding one’s individual triggers. Keeping a food diary is said to be a must, as looking back triggers can be clearly identified and then avoided. During a flare-up, a bland diet is recommended in which fatty and spicy foods are eliminated. After the flare-up’s symptoms have subsided a low fat and high fiber diet is best. Interestingly the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ proves true for many suffering with IBS as the digestive and detoxifying properties of this fruit help intestinal function and relieving some of the IBS symptoms.

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While emphasizing a lifestyle of moderation it is also important to understand gut health especially if you or a loved one suffers from IBS. So, what are the best supplements for your gut? Below are some supplements to think of adding to your ‘tool belt’ of managing IBS:


help restore and maintain a balanced by boosting beneficial flora in your gut and by fighting off bad bacteria. Probiotics come in both liquid and tablet forms and can be given to all ages, ranging from a few drops for babies to 30ml for adults. Probiotics are widely available at any pharmacy or health shop.


Think of prebiotics as food for your probiotics. These are like fiber and help to colonize the gut with good microbes. When prebiotics and probiotics are used in conjunction it is called microbiome therapy. Prebiotics don’t need to be taken in order for probiotics to work but people with IBS may choose to go on a short course of microbiome therapy, to ensure that the essential building blocks for good gut health are intact. Both prebiotics and probiotics tablets can be bought from any pharmacy or Health Shop.


L-glutamine is an amino acid that is produced by the body and is said to heal and restore damage to the gut tissue, as well as reduce inflammation. It is found in foods such as chicken, fish, and dairy (to name a few), but can also be taken in a powder or supplement form prescribed by a doctor. There is a belief that IBS could be the result of a L-glutamine deficiency, if you have been through times of significant stress or severe illness and suffer from IBS contact your doctor and ask about L-glutamine supplements.

Aloe Vera juice 

Aloe is packed with nutrients and natural enzymes, which can help support the gut lining, as well as aid in the digestion of food.

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

DGL is available over the counter at pharmacies and is available in a chewable tablet form to be taken before meals. It is useful because it helps heal the mucosal lining in the digestive tract.

Digestive Enzymes 

Most foods require a certain enzyme to break them down, and without enough enzymes, food cannot be digested properly. Adding enzymes to your diet can help ease digestion and increase absorption of nutrients.

When armed with new information there is always an allure to try everything, especially when the ‘new’ has the potential to reduce pain or discomfort, but remember the process of elimination is critical in managing IBS. When adding anything to your ‘tool belt’ add one new food or supplement at a time, as to monitor benefits.

Living with IBS can feel like eating your way through a mine field, some flare ups being worse than others - but take heart. A flare up is an opportunity to begin again only wiser, to try adding a different tool to your tool belt that could help you get closer to you truly managing your symptoms.

Date Published: 
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