IBS, irritable bowel syndrome is such a common issue affecting people of all ages.
In my opinion, the main trigger for this imbalance is dehydration within the colon. When the colon becomes dehydrated, the movement of digesting food slows down. As this food stagnates in the gut it releases toxins and encourages unfriendly gut bacteria to flourish. This imbalance triggers inflammation and an overload of mucous to protect irritated surfaces . It's these changes within the gut environment which kick off symptoms of discomfort, heaviness, bloating, gas, nausea, pain and so on.
Tackling the key Underlying Imbalances for IBS
From my nutritional and naturopathic point of view, IBS symptoms are just signalling an underlying level of cellular dehydration within the body which is also affecting the digestive system.
The body works on a water priority system and organs with higher priority like the brain will take water from lower priority areas when short. The colon acts like a back up reservoir for water and is drawn upon to divert water to higher priority areas when required.
If dehydration is not resolved, it intensifies and affects the functioning of the colon and leads to issues like incorrect pH, toxicity build up and an overgrowth of unfriendly micro-organisms. These all trigger symptoms of IBS like bloating, spasms, pain, constipation, diarrhoea and so on.
Factors influencing hydration of the colon
- Lifestyle stress be it mental, physical or emotional is a significant factor which can dehydrate the body, particularly the colon.
- Challenging diets: low in water, including gluten, dairy, highly processed grains/sugars/fats and so on. These foods will be difficult for the body to digest, process and eliminate.
- Nutritional deficiencies such as low omega 3, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C.
- Too many whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils etc which are not correctly prepared also create stress within the digestive system. See my article on how to prepare these foods so that they become easier to digest.
- A build up of toxicity within the colon contributes to digestive dehydration. Toxicity also influences the gut environment and imbalances the gut flora further. These toxins can also affect other parts of the body causing pain and inflammation.
Reducing IBS and Restoring the Balance
Reducing and eventually eliminating IBS takes time and personal effort to change the factors within the body which trigger these uncomfortable symptoms.
Positive strategies for reducing IBS include: restoring hydration within the colon, avoiding foods which are which are challenging for the body to digest/process plus restoring the gut flora.
My IBS Juice Recipe
Foods and drinks which help to rebalance the colon and support digestion also help.
My IBS juice recipe is a therapeutic drink, which helps soothe and ease IBS symptoms. It includes a mixture of peppermint tea, combined with apple juice and rejuvelac, which is a natural probiotic.
Apples are rich in soluble fibre like pectin, which helps to restore movement within the digestive system and also acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria within the gut. Peppermint is a natural calmer for bloating and muscle spasms. The probiotic I am adding is buckwheat rejuvelac. This is an easy to make lemony drink made from lightly fermenting sprouted buckwheat. Have a look at one of my previous posts on rejuvelac for more information.
1 tsp dried peppermint leaves
50 ml of buckwheat rejuvlac
- I added around 1/2 a cup of hot water to 1 tsp of dried peppermint leaves. I left this to brew and cool down to room temperature. You could cool the tea down further if you prefer a colder juice.
- When I was ready to make my juice, I strained the peppermint tea to remove the leaves.
- Next I juiced the apple and added it to the cooled peppermint tea.
- Finally, I mixed in the rejuvelac
This juice would also work well with other herbal teas which soothe digestion such as ginger, fennel and cardamom.