For years my cousin lived with irritable bowel syndrome. The alternating constipation and diarrhea along with the bloating, cramping and urgency made her life miserable.
If you’ve suffered from IBS, you know her pain. What makes it worse is that her doctors, and many others, have a poor understanding of IBS because there is no single known cause and no known cure.
Working with a doctor to control the condition is a process of trial and error and can take years with no guarantee of success. IBS affects everyone differently and can be triggered by different things.
Over the years, I’ve found a number of things that I’ve shared with my cousin to help her maintain healthy bowels keep her Symptoms under control. One of them is something we no longer think of as healing but are told to be afraid of… sunshine.
82 percent of IBS sufferers were low on the sunshine vitamin
Researchers from the University of Sheffield set out to discover whether there was an association between how much Vitamin D you have and the severity of IBS symptoms, particularly the extent to which IBS affects quality of life.
What they observed is that 82 percent of the people with IBS had insufficient vitamin D levels. Yes, you can get some through food, but the main way humans get vitamin D is though converting sunlight on the skin.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that scientists found there was an association between vitamin D status and the sufferer’s perceived quality of life. I have been talking about this with my readers for many years now. The less vitamin D they had, the more likely these sufferers were to have severe symptoms with their IBS and a lower quality of life.
One of the researchers in the trial had also suffered with IBS for over 30 years. She began taking vitamin D3 as a result of the observations, and reported a significant improvement in her symptoms.
She said this, “I wasn’t really expecting the vitamin D supplements to work as I had tried and failed with so many other treatments. I’m not cured but I have found that supplementation has dramatically improved my IBS.”
Seven steps to IBS relief
If you live with the daily struggle of IBS, you are more than likely to be low on vitamin D and need a supplement. The D3 form is the active one, and it should help you find symptom relief.
In addition, here are seven more tips you can use to improve your IBS symptoms:
1. Eat more fermented foods — Fermented foods support the good bacteria in your intestines to help relieve your IBS symptoms. Foods to try include kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi.
2. Hydrate — Getting enough water each day is critical to a healthy digestive system. Drink throughout the day and aim for at least eight (8 oz.) glasses.
3. Go gluten free — Many IBS sufferers can find relief by avoiding gluten in their daily diet so avoid all foods made with or containing wheat.
4. Kick caffeine — Caffeine stimulates the digestive tract and can make your symptoms worse.
5. Support your colon — Optimize the health of your colon and promote natural elimination with a supplement of ancient aloe vera extract and black walnut hulls. The one I use is made by my colleague Virginia Tims-Lawson at Peak Pure & Natural, Peak Colon Support.
6. Replenish — Probiotics can help re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria so take 50-100 billion units daily.
7. Control stress — Since stress can have a negative impact on your IBS symptoms, be sure to find ways to manage your stress levels to feel better. Exercise, meditation and deep breathing exercises are all good options to try.
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