If you have been dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome you know how frustrating it can be. Always plotting out where the next bathroom will be or knowing when “it” will strike, dealing with countless doctors, enduring invasive tests, trying multiple medications to “fix” the problem- none of it is fun and it doesn't yield the results you are looking for. After helping hundreds of people overcome IBS by finding the underlying cause, I know there is a different approach that works. I like to call it “Big Rocks Before Small Rocks.”
When I say “Big Rocks Before Small Rocks” what I mean is before you try a potentially harmful drug, or the latest and greatest supplement you need to address the big issues first. The reason why this approach is important stems from two lines of reasoning:
1) Most patients find a successful resolution to their IBS concerns by handling the “Big Rocks” first.
2) Handling the “Big Rocks” is a process of creating a healthy foundation within your body. If this doesn’t completely resolve your problem, then you will still benefit from that healthy foundation when tackling the “Small Rocks.” This will greatly enhance your success.
What Does Your Gut Do?
Now when I talk about the big issues first, it’s best to have a basic understanding of the many jobs of your gut. This basic understanding will lay the groundwork of why my approach works.
Your mouth is the beginning of the GI tract and the entryway for food.
I know this sounds stupidly simple but think about just that one statement. Your mouth is the entryway for food. Food is nutrition for the body. Are you eating FOOD that nourishes or are you eating things that appear like food but have no nutritional purpose and may actually be harmful? I mean everything you eat. Even your multivitamin may be filled with stuff that might be causing more harm than good.
What is the Underlying Cause of Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome?Next along the GI tract in our discussion is the stomach. The stomach has many important roles, but two of the most important are to break foods down, especially protein, and to prepare food for further digestion by killing off pathogens (harmful bacteria) before entering the small intestine. The secretion of hydrochloric acid is one of the many processes the stomach employs to break down food. That’s right; your stomach needs an acidic medium to function properly. Not only will acid blockers (known as proton pump inhibitors) hinder your digestion, they may actually cause you more harm in the long run. Many studies have linked these drugs to kidney disease, b-12 deficiencies, magnesium deficiencies, to name a few.
The 23’ long small intestine is next. I am in awe of this area of the GI System, especially a 6’ long layer that is only as thick as one microscopic human cell. This one layer allows broken down food to be absorbed. This one layer, where 80% of our immune system resides, is vigilantly stopping food pathogens from crossing the intestinal barrier. This one layer is beginning to carry waste products out of the body. This one layer is breaking foods down further. This one layer, with connections we are still leaning about, is in direct communication with your brain affecting everything from moods and emotions, to memory and intelligence.
The Large Intestine is where something called your microbiome resides. Your microbiome is a two pound mass consisting of trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. These organisms are vitally important to your health. The disruption of the microbiome has been implicated in a variety of conditions including IBS, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Depression, Mood Disorders, and skin conditions like Eczema. It would be nonsensical to discount the importance of the health of this very important ecosystem if you are having GI distress.
What Can You Do?
What’s the point of all this information? A sensible, successful approach to overcoming life with Irritable Bowel Syndrome must include the examination of all segments of the GI tract. Who is qualified to do this? A doctor who practices Functional Medicine and has seen hundreds of patients and has had the experience of helping patients navigate through this process.
The next best approach is to educate yourself, as you are doing now, and adopt an approach that takes all these systems into consideration.
It all starts with a healthy diet; remember, your mouth is the beginning of the GI tract and the entryway for food. There are many “diets” to choose from: Paleo, Micobiome, Ketogenic, FODMAP, Cellular Healing. It has been my experience that not everyone will respond the same way to each diet. Without knowing which one is best for you (based on blood tests and functional tests), you may consider a simple approach that has only six instructions:
1. Eliminate ALL grains
2. Eliminate all BAD fats
3. EAT HEALTHY FATS
4. Choose free range eggs and grass fed beef
5. Eliminate all processed foods
6. Eat a variety of vegetables (French fries are not a vegetable)
Supplementing with digestive enzymes, probiotics, CoCurcumin, fish oil (unless eating fresh fish twice a week) has also been found to be helpful in some patients.
These simple steps may help, and if they do that’s great. Please let me know your success story. If they don’t, maybe its time to seek expert advice to uncover the underlying cause of your IBS.