I just walked through the door at work and began walking to my office. I recognize the voices and laughter of my colleagues engrossed in our morning chats around the water cooler. I place my purse and lunch bag down by my chair and enter the discussion. Not 20 minutes later, I am awkwardly backing out of the conversation, moving closer to the hallway which leads to the bathroom. I need to go to the bathroom, RIGHT NOW! This urgency, the pressure, the uncomfortableness, the embarrassment, the shame, the guilt. I am defeated. I have to poop.
Welcome to my bowel problems.
I know it's not the sexiest of topics, but hey, everybody poops. Some people's bowel movements (BM) are just looser and more explosive - I like to say they have more character. (This was supposed to make you laugh). I grew up talking about poop. My family, however taboo, talked about our BMs like it was a normal conversation. It wasn't until I was older that I realized not everyone enjoyed talking about such personal matters. Just like the "eyes are the window to your soul" your bowel movements are the window to how well your body digests and processes foods (super important for overall health). The goal is to have a beautiful bowel movement at least once, but ideally 2 times per day. Hot, right?
At this point, you have probably guessed, "Hey, this woman totally has irritable bowel syndrome or IBS." Hey! You're right! This is actually extremely common, especially in women. It is estimated that the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome in North America is 10 - 15%, (roughly between 32- and 48 million people). (Cue distant flushing sounds). Just to be clear: there are three subtypes of irritable bowel syndrome: IBS-D (Diarrhea dominant), IBD-C (Constipation dominant), and IBS-M (D+C mixed). This article strictly covers diarrhea dominant irritable bowel syndrome.
This rate is alarming. Fortunately, irritable bowel syndrome may be easily managed with a targeted personalized diet and lifestyle plan from a qualified functional medicine nutritionist - such as a Certified Nutrition Specialist or Registered Dietitian - by getting to the root cause of the problem.
Before getting into the specifics of how a Functional Nutritionist may help those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, let's take a look at the most common symptoms of this condition.
5 Most Common Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
We now know how prevalent irritable bowel syndrome is and what the common symptoms are of irritable bowel syndrome. The next question is my favorite to answer:
How can a Functional Medicine Nutritionist help patients who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome?
First things first, you will be asked to fill out paperwork about your personal, social, and family histories. You will be asked about specific medications, supplements, herbals you are taking. You will fill out a 3-day diet diary, where you are asked to record everything you eat and drink ideally during 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day. This gives the nutritionist a better idea about what foods you are eating and where possible nutrient inadequacies are. If you were requested to have labs done, your functional medicine nutritionist can review your labs with you and talk about how nutrition and targeted supplement therapy would help stabilize out-of-range values.
Depending on all of this information - a personalized nutrition plan that may involve a supervised elimination diet, stress reduction, and/or hormonal balancing could be suggested to help you understand which foods and lifestyle factors are contributing to your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
A review of your systems (accomplished by the Medical Symptom Questionnaire) will also be completed which helps target which body systems may be in need of intervention. Common systems that may be compromised in the case of irritable bowel syndrome include your gastrointestinal system, endocrine system, and/or nervous system.
Nutritionist Treatment Aims of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Normalize bowel function through nutrition and lifestyle modifications
Manage adverse food reactions and sensitivities
Support the nervous and endocrine systems
Minimize gut inflammation
If you aren't ready to work with a Functional Medicine Nutritionist to ease your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms take a look at the following quick list of nutrition and lifestyle recommendations you can implement right away but remember: If you aren't treating the underlying condition, your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms will remain.
3 Nutrition and Lifestyle Hacks to Use Right Now to Help Ease Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms:
1. Reduce Stress
2. Include more fiber in your diet
3. Add a probiotic to your diet or probiotic-rich foods
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any concerns that you may have irritable bowel syndrome, consult with your healthcare practitioner right away and consider seeing a functional nutritionist- like me!
I have helped many clients manage their irritable bowel syndrome condition by getting to the root cause of their condition. If you want help with this debilitating condition, please schedule your complementary Nutrition Strategy Call HERE and I will be in touch to help you.
Stay healthy friends,