The Gut Stuff Reader:
I have had problems with my gut for as many years as I can remember. I have IBS which I have only recently been diagnosed with. I have had severe issues for years, I have been taken Symprove probiotic and keeping to a low map diet. Is there anything you recommend?
“IBS” is a very broad umbrella diagnosis for “gut issues” when nothing shows up on regular medical investigations.
It can a very frustrating diagnosis because people are often expected to leave the doctor’s surgery and just “live” with the symptoms which can be some of the following or even all: chronic bloating, embarrassing wind, heartburn, stomach pains, chronic loose stools, chronic constipation for days-weeks at a time, sometimes alternating between the two.
It can be tempting to go chasing after a “magic pill” probiotic or a newer test or diet than the last one for answers. If only life was that simple!
In my experience of hundreds of patients with IBS, the cause/causes of gut dysfunction are usually a list of issues which form a tipping point and very unique to each individual. Often working on several areas of diet and lifestyle at once and really mastering them can gradually bring the gut back to good health for the long term. It often takes years of different parts of our diet and lifestyle to shift the gut into trouble, and takes at least several months, to a year to get them back.
Here is a brief list of issues which could be contributing to “IBS” with some self-questioning to ask and see if there are areas you could start to work on.
- Chronic stress – eg job, money, relationships – is there anything you could change here? The gut and brain are connected and have a big impact on each other bidirectionally. Have you tried daily meditation, or joining a mindfulness group where you could learn to eat mindfully so that your parasympathetic nervous system gets switched on each time you eat so that food is digested and absorbed properly and less likely to cause bloating?
- Unresolved trauma – sometimes this could be at the heart of gut troubles. Could talking to a professional you build rapport and trust with help over a few months? If cost is an issue, are there self-help groups or survivor groups you could join?
- A monotonous beige diet – are you eating enough variety, vegetables and fruit with all the fibre in them at every single meal to feed your gut bacteria and create a healthy microbiome to help support your gut health? Many people who have tried the low Fodmap diet have very low diversity scores on stool tests because they have been eating such a restricted diet of different plants for longer than the original 4-6 prescribed time it was designed for.
- Many people tell me their “IBS” improves greatly when they are on the wagon. Have a think about your relationship with alcohol. It doesn’t suit everybody’s guts. Can you imagine a time in the future with no IBS? Would alcohol be part of that picture? A third of 16-24-year-olds now don’t drink. Which is good news fs you’re in this age group – as it may mean not drinking is gradually becoming easier socially.
You can read more from Jeannette on her blog.
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No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.
Do you want to ask a nutritionist a question about your gut issues? You can do that HERE!