Five Ways to Soothe Digestive Discomfort

((By Ryan Burch))

Did you know that 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) – including symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea?

I’ve personally suffered from digestive issues my entire life, leading to uncomfortable situations at work, frustrating dinners out, endless doctors and naturopath visits, lab tests, and a cabinet full of fiber supplements, probiotics, anti-acids, (and really any supplement promising digestive relief).

At first, I didn’t want to believe that I had IBS (if you look it up online, it’ll sound like a death sentence) – but after regularly meeting with a nutritionist and gastroenterologist, I’ve learned to accept the diagnosis, (stop feeling sorry for myself), and shift my focus to finding the best course of treatment.

Now, three years since that diagnosis, I’ve figured out some tips to manage my symptoms (both naturally and affordably), and I’m sharing those findings within the following 5- step guide!

** Disclaimer : the following information is based on my personal experience with IBS, as well as advice shared by doctors and nutritionists I've worked with over the years. These steps should help reduce symptoms of digestive discomfort, but results will vary based on the individual  (digestive disorders are effected by many factors, including genetics & lifestyle).**

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STEP 1: Follow the FodMap diet*

Over the last few years, I’ve experimented with many different diets and even cut out gluten and dairy entirely. I didn’t see any noticeable improvements, however, until discovering the “FodMap Diet” – a diet low in certain sugars and fibers that are known to trigger IBS symptoms.

Start by purchasing “IBS, Free at Last” by Patsy Catsos and follow her “elimination diet.” In a short period of time, you will be able to identify the exact foods that are triggering your symptoms and causing you the most harm (the results may surprise you. I found out that gluten isn’t actually a problem for me!).

*There are many variations to the FODmap diet out there, so be sure to refer to the plan laid out by Patsy Catsos. (More info HERE).

Step 2: Start your day with hot water & lemon

Having a couple glasses of hot water and fresh lemon in the morning (about 3 slices per cup) will stimulate the GI tract, help flush toxins from your system, and reduce stomach pain!

I’ll also order hot water with lemon at restaurants pre or post a big meal – especially when my symptoms are flaring up.

Step 3. Use a high-quality probiotic

Probiotics are a great way to improve bowel function and restore bacterial balance. I recommend looking for one with 30 billion cultures, and taking with your morning or evening meal (I use Ultraflora Spectrum: 1 capsule has 30 billion cultures).

Step 4. Apple Cider -OR- Coconut Vinegar

There are many benefits to using apple cider (or coconut!) vinegar—including soothing stomach pain and reducing indigestion and constipation.

(I add 1 TBS of coconut vinegar to a small glass of water in the morning to give my digestive system a jump start.).

Step 5. Supplement with Cal Mag

Dealing with constipation? Try adding calcium magnesium into your diet. These tablets help clean your colon and relax your muscles — which improves bowel function.

I use Mag Citrate (3 tablets in the morning), but you could also check out “CALM” which also helps you sleep (start with a half teaspoon in a cup of hot water).

 

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Living with IBS (and other digestive disorders) can be extremely frustrating— and it may seem easier to ignore your symptoms and carry on eating the same foods without having to adjust your diet in a major way. Unfortunately, this sort of approach will only make matters worse—and it may end up taking much longer to get your symptoms sorted out. Instead, commit to putting your health first, and try this 5-step plan to (hopefully) help you start feeling like your better self, today!