Healthy Holidays with IBS

Healthy Holidays with IBS

Healthy Holidays with IBS

The holiday season can be a challenging and stressful time of year – even without taking your irritable bowel syndrome into account.

And while this year may look a bit different for you depending on the situation where you live, by keeping some tips in mind you’ll be more prepared than ever to navigate this time of year in a more healthy and less stressful way.

Check out the video below for all my healthy holiday tips!

This is an edited version of the monthly Facebook live of November in my free private community, IBSuccess. (Want to join? Click here!). It was a casual chat, so apologies for the overuse of “um”!

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Book a Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

 

Figuring out what is triggering your IBS symptoms is a bit like playing detective.

Since everyone’s IBS tends to be different, what might be triggering you is likely very different than what is triggering someone else.

It can be a frustrating task to try and sort it all out, but luckily if you know how to keep an effective food journal, you’re much more likely to be able to make sense of it all!

 

Tip #1: Every bite counts

Now remember, the purpose of this journal isn’t about tracking how much food you’re eating or your macro split or whatever blah blah is on trend for the moment.

It’s a no judgement zone.

You’re only collecting information to help you get to the bottom of this mystery called IBS.

But in order to do that, it’s helpful to be sure you’re really writing down everything you eat.

Even those two bites of mac n’ cheese you ate from the kids’ pot before you served them their dinner.

For many people, such a small amount might not be so relevant and might not cause IBS symptoms to be triggered. But for some it may be. And perhaps it’s just a couple bites of something that on top of the other foods you eat just manages to push you over the edge in terms of “trigger foods” consumed.

 

Tip #2: Don’t forget the liquids

Making sure our body is properly hydrated is so important, and if we aren’t doing well on this it’s just extra stress on the system. And extra stress = higher chance of symptoms being triggered. (Want to learn more about how much water you should be drinking? Head over to this blog post.)

And it’s not only the amount of water that you’re drinking that you should be noting. Any and all coffee, tea, sodas, juices, alcohol, etc. should also be making it into your food journal. This is all important data that could help you spot patterns in your symptoms.

 

Tip #3: What’s your mood like?

This step is too often skipped! How we’re feeling and what emotions are going on can play a big role in determining how we are going to digest our food. Worried, anxious, stressed? These emotions are probably increasing the likelihood of symptoms being triggered (sometime regardless of what you’re eating).

Studies have shown that when people are stressed their guts behave differently (IBS or not). Since the gut-brain connection is thought to be dysfunctional in many people with IBS, this could mean when your brain communicates with your gut about emotions and thoughts, it’s actually being over-interpreted.

 

Tip #4: Keep track of those BMs!

Noting down what’s going on for you digestively is a great extra piece of information to add into your food journal. When did you have a bowel movement? What was it on the Bristol Stool Chart? Did you experience pain, cramps, etc.

This is the kind of information you’ll likely forget or incorrectly recall if you look back on your food journal days or weeks later. You might remember having some symptoms pop up, but depending on how you felt at the time, you’re likely going to downplay or intensify what it was like. Make sure to always give some sort of rating (like a scale of 1-5 for discomfort / intensity) in order to have something concrete to refer back to.

 

Tip #5: Be realistic in what you can keep up with

Can you recall what you had for lunch a week ago today?

Most people can’t, or it takes them awhile to get there. Imagine you’re trying to recall an entire day or week of food at one time – probably you’re going to forget some details. Whether it’s a snack, a side dish, etc. the accuracy of your journaling will decrease if you don’t do it regularly.

While the more detail the better, you need to balance this with what you can realistically keep up with on a daily basis. Know you won’t have time to properly journal? Take photos of what you’re eating on your phone to refer back to and use the Notes app to jot down how you’re feeling and what’s going on with your digestion.

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Book a Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are probiotics?

Our gut is home to millions and millions of bacteria – in fact the number of bacteria in your gut is higher than the number of cells in the human body! The total weight of them can even come to 1.5kg / 4lbs. It’s generally agreed that there are about 500-1000 different types of bacteria in our gut, and for a healthy individual we have a harmonious relationship with these guys.

These bacteria are vital to our health; they help maintain the health of the cells in the gut lining, they support our immune function in the gastrointestinal tract (which is where the bulk of our immune system is located!), they aid in the digestion and absorption of key nutrients, and they even produce some nutrients that our body cannot produce itself – making these available for us.

Probiotics are essentially supplements of specific types of the “good guy” bacteria. The idea is that in taking them, you may be boosting the population of the good bacteria, which would help if your body’s balance of bacteria in the gut is off.

You can also find natural sources of probiotics in certain foods, namely fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and other pickled vegetables.

When it comes to supplementation specifically, most research has centered on two main families of bacteria: lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, the specific strains/sub-strains of bacteria are going to vary from product to product. Some supplements will just be one specific strain, some may be a mix, and the overall quantity of bacteria can also vary.

 

Should I be supplementing with probiotics for IBS?

One theory is that symptoms of IBS such as gas, may develop due to an imbalance of “good vs. bad” bacteria in the gut. However, actual clinical results have been mixed and largely inconclusive as to whether probiotics are effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

When it comes to our gut microbiome, in general the composition of it is fairly similar between healthy individuals. But when it comes to an unbalanced microbiome, every person’s tends to be unique. Therefore, it’s difficult to judge whether or not a probiotic will be effective.

Since the bacteria in the probiotic are meant to be alive, it’s also difficult to say how many – if any – actually make it through the digestive system and to the large intestine still alive. And a small study done on off-the-shelf probiotic supplements found that 50% of those tested were actually already dead even before use! Since there’s very little regulation in the industry, whether you’re getting what you paid for can be questionable.

The American Gastroenterological Association has recently come out with revised recommendations stating that there is insufficient evidence to recommend probiotics for IBS.

However, a low-FODMAP diet for as little as 4 weeks has been seen to already impact the balance of bacteria in the gut in a negative direction. But research done at King’s College in the UK has shown that taking a probiotic may help rebalance the gut microbiome after following a low-FODMAP diet.

Overall, if you’re going to try supplementing with a probiotic, keep your expectations realistic and only expect a mild improvement, if any.

 

Considerations for supplementing with probiotics for IBS

Start with the natural sources in fermented foods! Ease into it over time, as going for a too-large portion size right away could cause digestive distress. Keep in mind that some probiotic-rich foods could be high in FODMAPs.

If you try a supplement, you can also ease into in it by starting with lower amounts. Research suggests that it is more beneficial to focus on one specific strain of bacteria at first, rather than choosing one with many different types.

Give yourself at least a month (one full female hormone cycle) to judge whether or not they are making a difference. They should be taken just before or during a meal (of course always follow the label’s instructions).

If you don’t see an improvement – stop taking them! You don’t want to be wasting your money. You could also try switching to a different strain of bacteria.

 

Final thoughts

As always, consult your doctor before taking any sort of supplement! If you have a known immune deficiency, have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, or have short gut syndrome, you shouldn’t be taking probiotics. 

There is no research on long-term probiotic use, so taking them for a longer period isn’t recommended.

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes probiotics!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Book a Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are digestive enzymes?

Enzymes are a specific type of protein and act as a chemical catalyst in the body. Digestive enzymes are the group that break down the food we eat into smaller molecules to eventually be absorbed and used by the body. 

Most digestive enzymes are made by the pancreas and during digestion are secreted into the small intestine. But some are also made by the salvatory glands (so are present in our saliva), and by the cells lining the stomach and small intestine.

Each digestive enzyme has its own specific target, for example:

  • Amylase targets carbohydrates, breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars
  • Lipase targets fats, breaking them down into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Pepsin targets proteins, breaking them down into peptides

These are just a few examples of the many digestive enzymes our body produces. One that you may be more familiar with is lactase. This is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose. The lack of this enzyme in some people is what lies behind lactose intolerance! (Keep in mind this is not the same as with a true dairy allergy.)

 

Should I be supplementing with digestive enzymes for IBS?

Supplementation of digestive enzymes originally started namely for people with pancreatic insufficiency – these people were unable to produce enough of their own digestive enzymes in the pancreas.

There’s some, albeit limited, research that certain digestive enzymes could beneficial for people with IBS. The theory being that they can help with indigestion and cut down on the chance of IBS symptoms being triggered by poorly digested food.

However, regulation in the digestive enzyme industry is very poor, and many products on the market lack scientific evidence backing up their beneficial claims. Since enzymes are a type of protein, in many cases there is no proof that these enzymes even reach the small intestine intact – they may be digested themselves in the process!

If you are going to try a supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. Make sure to choose one that has research showing its benefits specifically for IBS symptoms. Take them following the label’s instructions (generally before and/or during a meal).

Supplements can be pricey, so take the time to evaluate whether you are experiencing any benefit from it after a consistent trial period of a month. If you don’t notice the benefit, don’t waste your money!

 

Types of digestive enzymes for IBS

Lactase (commonly found as the brand Lactaid)

This is a digestive enzyme that aids in the breakdown of the milk sugar, lactose. Studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance that many people with IBS struggle with.

 

Alpha-galactosidase

Around 2/3 of people with IBS have been found to be sensitive to a FODMAP subcategory called GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). GOS are commonly found in foods like lentils and legumes, cashews, and pistachios. The digestive enzyme alpha-galactosidase has been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS like bloating, abdominal distension, and gas.

 

Biointol

Biointol is a combination of different digestive enzymes along with some soluble fibers. A study on IBS patients showed improvement on symptoms like bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, with a slight increase in urgency of bowel movements. However, the study was a fairly small group and there was no placebo group. More research still needs to be done.

 

Pancreatic lipase (PEZ)

A small study on a group of people with diarrhea predominant IBS showed improvement in symptoms like cramping, stomach rumbling, bloating, urgency of bowel movements, pain, and loose stools. More research still needs to be done.

 

Final thoughts

Digestive enzymes could be helpful for some people with IBS. Take care which ones you are taking and make sure to choose ones that have credible research and proven results on IBS symptoms. Some digestive enzymes can come from animal-based sources, so make sure to check the label if you require a vegan/vegetarian product.

Remember that some digestive enzymes, like lactase, are very specific, and so their effectiveness is going to rely on whether or not you’re consuming food that contains that substance. This is why knowing what your food triggers are is so important! 

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes digestive enzymes!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Book a Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

Breakfast Root Veggie Hash

Breakfast Root Veggie Hash

Breakfast Root Veggie Hash

Sometimes breakfast doesn’t need to be sweet!

And often when we go for a savoury option, eggs are involved. I love eggs as much as the next person, but do yourself a favour and give this breakfast hash a try for a different take on the first meal of the day.

The root veggies actually do give a bit of a sweetness to the hash, and as a bonus you’re ticking off a serving (if not more) of your 5-a-day right away!

The original recipe isn’t quite FODMAP-friendly, but if you refer to the notes below the recipe you’ll see some easy swaps to ensure it’s low-FODMAP if you need it to be.

Breakfast Root Veggie Hash

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 sweet potato small, diced
  • 1 parsnip diced
  • 1 beet large, diced
  • 1 onion small, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 500 g ground pork
  • 100 g spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ avocado garnish

Instructions
 

  • Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add in the sweet potato, parsnip, beet, onion, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Cook for roughly 10 minutes.
  • Add in the ground pork and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, breaking apart the ground meat as you go until it is browned and cooked through.
  • Stir in the spinach and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Garnish with avocado.

Notes

Make this FODMAP-friendly!
  • Skip the beet (you can add in more parsnip).
  • Replace the onion with chopped leeks (green part only).
  • Remove the garlic cloves and use garlic-infused olive oil instead of regular olive oil.
  • Limit the avocado to ⅛ of an avocado per serving.
 
Keyword Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegetables
Contact

Healthfully Heather

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VAT: 0694867319

✉️   hello@healthfullyheather.com

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