I NEED THE RESTROOM, NOW! Dealing with IBS

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Many women I know have issues with diarrhea.  It limits their lives in ways that I can’t begin to imagine.

A dear friend of mine has such bad IBS and a strong reaction to lactose that she spends a large part of her morning confined to the nearest restroom if she is able to make it out of her house at all.  All this from eating a tiny bowl of ice cream or a cup of yogurt!

So what is really happening when we experience this issue?

It is truly amazing how much water is usually absorbed through the colon – two gallons every day.  If you have chronic diarrhea, you aren’t getting the maximum benefit from foods because you are not absorbing all the nutrients.

Diarrhea is a symptom, not a disease.  It is characterized by the frequent passage of watery stools.

Some of the more common causes are viruses, food poisoning, parasites, anxiety and nervousness or reactions to food, alcohol or medications.  Antibiotic, antacids and other products containing magnesium, anti-hypertensive medications, laxatives that are not bulk forming and medications for irregular heartbeat can all cause diarrhea.

Diarrhea is a healthy way for your body to eliminate the irritant causing you a  problem. Most experts consider it best to let it run its course if possible, while rehydrating to prevent dehydration.
You should seek medical attention if you have a temp above 101, a black tarry stool or diarrhea that persists for more than 10 days.

Here are  some of the specific causes of diarrhea:

The use of Antibiotics cause the intestines to become inflamed.  The result is diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever.  One of the easiest things to do to combat this issue is to take probiotics.

People who have lactase deficiency also have problems with diarrhea.  Milk sugar, lactose, cannot be absorbed by the small intestines.  Bacteria in the colon break the lactose into simple sugars, which then exert an osmotic force in the colon, resulting in loose stools.  Avoiding dairy will generally help you to avoid this type of reaction.

Certain bacteria give off toxins that stick to the intestinal lining.  Although these toxins do not damage the intestinal lining they do cause the cells to secrete massive amounts of fluid, which results in voluminous watery diarrhea so typical of food poisoning.

Certain diseases can result in diarrhea.  Crohn’s disease , a common form of inflammatory bowel disease, tends to impair absorption and leads to diarrhea.  Irritable Bowel Syndrome or (IBS) is the most common cause on chronic diarrhea in women in developed countries.

Acute diarrhea can also be cause by parasites.  Many times these are found in contaminated water and can be very common in developing countries.

Traveler’s Diarrhea is caused by ingesting contaminated food and/or water.

Chronic diarrhea, or an issue that last beyond 2 weeks, is often caused by another disease.  Patients with AIDS are prone to develop diarrhea.  Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s and certain bowel infections, along with gallbladder removal and the consumption of a high fat diet can result in diarrhea.

Here are some tips on what to avoid and what you might want to try.  Remember that everyone is different, what works for one person may not work for you.

When you are experiencing diarrhea you usually are not hungry.  It is your body’s way of not feeding the intestinal “bugs”.  Many people find relief in the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.  These foods are binding and bland.

Foods that have a  high protein content such as meat, chicken, fish and eggs more readily support overgrowth of bacteria than do carbohydrates.  Dry food is less likely to cause food poisoning.  One important key is refrigeration: food should never be allowed to sit without refrigeration for more than three hours.

Avoid sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol that are found in dietetic candies and sweets that cause diarrhea.  Some people have the same reaction to fructose and lactose.

Avoid dairy products as lactose is an irritant for many people.

Investigate food allergies and sensitivities with an elimination diet.

Take probiotics to restore the healthy bacteria that can be destroyed by taking antibiotics.

Use olive oil.  Some studies show that oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil slowed down the transit time in people with chronic diarrhea.  Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Use Psyllium daily to solidify stools.  Begin with 1 to 2 teaspoons in at least 8 oz of water.  It may give you gas at first but that should calm down after a few days.

Hydrate:  The most important thing you can do if you have a bout of diarrhea is to drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid.  Water, fruit juice or vegetable juice is the best.  Avoid dairy products since milk sugar may be poorly absorbed and cause more irritation.

To avoid traveler’s diarrhea remember to always drink from sealed water bottles.  The most common food contaminates are fruits and veggies.  If you can’t peel it don’t eat it.  Washing fruit in local water will only make it worse.  Wash your hands frequently.

Diarrhea is seldom serious but can be very annoying and restrictive.

As a nutrition coach I help many of my clients figure out what food affect their digestion and what food really enhance their health.  If I can be of any help, let me know.

I would love to hear from you.

You Deserve to be Healthy!

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OMG I’m Stressed! Stress and Your Digestion!

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Your body reacts to everyday stress in the same way it reacts to the stress of being chased by a bear.

What is even more important is if you are plagued by constant stress your body will start to show the wear and tear of being on alert too much of the time.

Here are some signs that your digestion is being affected by stress:

·         Bloating:  When you are under stress you are more likely to swallow air, which can cause bloating.
·         Flare-ups with Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Studies suggest that stress will make flare-ups more frequent.
·         Diarrhea:  Stress can trigger diarrhea.
·         Ulcers:  Stress may not cause ulcers but they sure do aggravate them and can even increase the chance you will develop one.
·         Constipation:  If you suffer from this condition you know that if you add a little stress to the mix your balanced system goes way out of whack.
·         Acid reflux and indigestion:  These conditions are aggravated by stress and can lead to more damage in the esophagus.

So, in anticipation of future stress here’s what you can do to protect your digestion:

·         Walk it off: This is an aerobic exercise that not only lets you burn off the stress but  produces brain chemicals that perk up your mood.
·         Let it out: Okay so at the Thanksgiving dinner table you may not want to break down into an sobbing heap but if you feel emotional, the best thing to do is privately let it out.  Holding in emotions makes them more intense and creates a situation that affects your body.
·        Laugh it off: Hunt for the humor.  I like this one the best.  I am really good at looking at even the most stressful situation and finding something funny in it.  If you struggle with this, watch a comedy, read a funny book or watch your favorite comedian. 
·         Revamp your to-do list: Having too much to do really creates a lot of stress.  Rate the importance of each task and start shuffling the less important to another time.
·         Write in a journal or diary:  This ties into expressing your emotions.  Write it down and get it out.  Make sure that you don’t keep re-reading if it makes you anxious.
·         Listen to relaxing music: For some of us music can make all the difference in our mood and outlook!  Find music that lifts and inspires you and play it loud.
·         Breathe: I know when I am under stress, I hold my breath.  Not good!  Breathe in through your nose for a count of four; hold it for four, breath out through your mouth for a count of four.  Do this four times each day or when you feel stress.  It really works for me.
·         Catch those ZZZ’s:  We are better able to handle stress when we are well rested.
·         Put down the bottle: Alcohol can really bring out the emotions and not always in a good way.  Alcohol also dehydrates us and makes us tired and irritable.  Definitely not a de-stressor.
·         Eat foods that support you! Avoid sugar and process foods that will cause mood swings, cravings and a lack of energy.  Vegetables (mainly leafy greens) and small quantities of fruit with lean, clean protein will keep you operating at your peak, maintaining mental clarity and boosting your immune system. 
 
 So go out and enjoy life with friends and family.  Pay attention to how you are feeling and follow these 10 suggestions for beating stress and you should feel better soon!

You Deserve to be Healthy and Stress-Free!

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Bear Image courtesy of Hal Brindley / FreeDigitalPhotos.net