IBS isn’t an incurable disease, and it is possible to find the root causes of IBS and regain gut health. In this article, I’ll explore how that process might look.
There are four logical steps to work through to regain gut health. It is possible to do this on your own, and Dr Ruscio offers a protocol in his book. However, I offer this information with caveat that I would suggest working with a Functional Medicine practitioner to provide expert guidance and support which can be invaluable during this process.
In this phase, we remove everything that may be stressing your gut and causing inflammation. To start with, we need to know what your personal stressors are …
If it’s suspected that you have Candida, bacterial or protozoa overgrowth, Helicopter Pylori, or a virus, I recommend the GI Map test offered by Nutripath in Australia. It’s a stool test that can be done from the comfort of your home. It analyses the DNA of the microbes in your stool and so is very precise. It also analyses markers for leaky gut, IBD, and gut inflammation, making it a very complete test. SIBO testing may also be appropriate.
If parasites are found, then there are a number of options including herbal antimicrobials, specific probiotics, and antibiotics. I work with the first two options but you always have the option of talking to your GP about the antibiotic option once we’ve identified the issue.
Particular foods can also be a stressor for some people. This can include trigger foods such as gluten, dairy, and added sugar. When working with a client, I often start with dietary change. Encouraging digestive enzymes and stomach acid production is also important to ensure our food is digested properly.
I find the Low FODMAP diet helps many people with IBS. The first phase of the diet removes types of sugar which may be causing your gut symptoms. After two to six weeks, we systematically re-introduce these foods. This allows us to identify your trigger foods which can be selectively avoided in the future. If you need help with a Low-FODMAP diet, I also offer one-on-one Low-FODMAP coaching.
When there’s inflammation in the gut, you can also expect there to be increased intestinal permeability, commonly known as Leaky Gut. A leaky gut allows toxins, larger food molecules, unwanted bacteria, and viruses to enter the bloodstream. When these foreign substances pass through the gut barrier, the immune system is called into action to defend us from the invaders and inflammation results. This is bad news and can lead to a diverse range of symptoms such as food sensitivities, fatigue, brain fog, and nutrient malabsorption.
To heal a leaky gut, you also need to consider your lifestyle such as stress levels, making time for yourself, and getting enough sleep. Bone broth and stewed apples, as well as polyphenol-rich foods such as blueberries, blackberries, purple sweet potatoes, purple carrots, may also help. Supplements such as Colostrum, L_Glutamine, and Zinc or Mega Mucosa from MicrobiomeLabs can also help.
This phase is all about encouraging a diverse range of ‘good’ gut bacteria. This is vital as, without it, your gut issues are likely to return. Time needs to be spent fixing your gut microbiome. It’s a necessity for ongoing gut health!
We reseed our guts through probiotics, fermented foods, and also soluble fibres known as prebiotics. Our gut bugs love almost all veggies and whole grains such as flax seed, chia seed, buckwheat and other non-gluten containing grains.
By this stage, you should be able to handle more prebiotics than you could in stage 1. Healthy high FODMAP foods and resistant starches can be introduced to feed your ‘good’ gut bacteria. Remember high FODMAP foods are often healthy foods and we want to be able to eat them without problems.
For the probiotic, there a number of options including a Lactobacillus / Bifidobacterium blend, Saccharomyces Boulardii, and soil-based probiotics. Different types of probiotics work for different people, and I urge you to experiment with different types if one type is not helping.
Saccharomyces Boulardii and Lactobacillus GG have also been found to combat Candida and pathogenic bacterial overgrowth.
This final stage is all about preserving the gains from the previous stages. We pay particular attention to lifestyle choices such as sleep, exercise, and stress.
Of particular interest is that when we eat, as well as what we eat. Nowadays, we tend to eat all day (16 hours) and fast for just 8 hours overnight. It’s during this fasting period that the gut lining repairs itself and the body can clear out unprocessed foods and bacteria from the small intestine. This helps prevent small bacteria overgrowth or SIBO through a process known as the ‘migrating motor complex’.
Spending longer periods without food, say 12 or even 16 hours overnight, and reducing snacking, may help your gut health, improve your overall health and prevent chronic diseases.
Everyone is different
These four steps provide a framework for regaining gut health. But that doesn’t mean everyone should follow exactly the same steps, and that’s where the experience and training of a practitioner can be invaluable.
If you have any questions, I’m always happy to help so please get in touch. To know more about how you can work with me, you can find out more here.
Stephen Ward (MSc) is trained in assessing the root cause of your health issues and together, we can work this out.
Call 0491611043 or BOOK ONLINE.
Alternatively, send me a message and I’ll get back to you ..