Dear Dr. Terri K: Lately, my stomach has been bothering me, and I think I may have IBS. I do love sweets, and I know I need to be careful and watch what I eat. I am always running to the restroom (diarrhea/bloody). Can you share with me a natural approach to improve my stomach problems? – LO
Lo: First, congratulations for wanting to take control of your health. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder seen by physicians. Twice as many women suffer from the condition as men. Here are some basic lifestyle suggestions:
Eat a high-fiber diet. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains (especially brown rice). Limit the consumption of gas-producing foods such as beans and broccoli.
Avoid high-stress foods. This includes animal fats, sugar, processed and fried foods, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. These foods prevent the uptake of nutrients and can irritate the linings of the stomach and colon.
Supplement with anti-inflammatory and cleansing herbs. Beneficial herbs include peppermint, burdock root, red clover, alfalfa, chamomile, fenugreek, ginger, pau d’arco, rose hips and slippery elms. These can be taken in tea or capsule form. Aloe vera is also healing to the digestive tract.
Develop good eating habits. Chew your food well. Do not overeat or eat in a hurry. Do not eat right before going to bed. Wait one or two hours after eating before lying down.
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat and how you feel afterwards. You may begin to see patterns – when you eat certain foods, your body reacts in a particular way. Your body knows best; you simply have to listen to it.
Make water your drink of choice. Drink a minimum of eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. Water works as a cleansing agent for the body.
Practice deep breathing exercises. Shallow breathing reduces the oxygen available for proper bowel function.
See a physician. Share all of your symptoms with the doctor. He/she will most likely perform a colonoscopy to rule out other disorders such as Crohn’s disease and colon cancer. Don’t be afraid of the exam. Drinking the prep solution is worse than the actual procedure. Also, check for food allergies.
Honor your body. Today, take control of your health. Use the power of choice to change your lifestyle. You can make it happen. Start Power Living® today!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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